With the UFC’s return to Japan for the first time in over a decade, the world’s biggest MMA organization is bringing a card full of exciting matchups to the country that helped develop mixed martial arts to the sport it is today. The UFC has released an extended preview video for the event, which features former Pride stars Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Mark Hunt, along with local Japanese stars Yushin Okami, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Takanori Gomi.
The event is headlined by a title fight for the UFC lightweight championship between champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Benson Henderson.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson makes his return to Japan for the first time since his final fight in Pride at Pride 31 in February 2006, nearly six years ago to the day. The former UFC light heavyweight champion takes on The Ultimate Fighter season 8 winner Ryan Bader.
Another former Pride star making his return to Japan is heavyweight Mark Hunt, who last fought in Japan in at Dream 9 in May 2009. Hunt takes on fellow striker Cheick Kongo.
Japan will also be hosting multiple Japanese natives, including middleweight contender Yushin Okami, Yoshihiro Akyima, who makes his welterweight debut, and former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi.
This will be the first UFC event in the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Previous UFC events took place in Tokyo and Yokohama, respectively.
UFC 144 takes place this Saturday, with the normal start time for the entire card, including the 10 PM EST start for the pay-per-view. The event will feature an extended four hour pay-per-view, with a seven fight main card instead of the usual five.
Facebook starts the coverage at 7:30 PM EST with the first preliminary card fight, with FX taking over at 8 PM, hosting four more fights until the pay-per-view coverage begins at 10.
MAIN CARD (PPV)
- Frankie Edgar (c) vs. Ben Henderson
UFC Lightweight Championship
- Quitnon “Rampage” Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
- Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Hunt
- Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama
- Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis
- Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
- Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
PRELIMINARY CARD (FX)
- Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell
- Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Vaughn Lee
- Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
- Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook)
- Tiequan Zhang vs. Issei Tamura
For complete coverage of UFC 144, stay tuned to MMAFrenzy.com