UFC 144 took place in Saitama, Japan Saturday night and the card did not disappoint. In the main event, Ben Henderson put his full set of skills on display to defeat the now former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in a fantastic fight.
Also on the card, light heavyweight Ryan Bader was victorious over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the co-main event while Mark Hunt was also victorious.
Henderson outlasts Edgar to become champion
Newly-crowned UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar laid it all on the line for the crowd at the Saitama Super Arena. Both fighters had their moments as Edgar out-landed and won the takedown battle but Henderson clearly did the most damage as he had the former champion in danger multiple times during the fight.
A major moment in the fight happened at the end of the second round when Henderson landed an absolutely crushing up-kick that dazed the champion and had him in serious trouble as the round ended. That kick likely stole a key round for Henderson as Edgar appeared to be leading on the scorecards at the time.
A similar scenario played out at the end of the fight where Edgar appeared to be leading before Henderson landed a crushing jumping knee that forced Edgar into survival mode as the former champ then ended the round getting hammered by Henderson.
Those moments, along with a deep guillotine attempt and powerful striking in round 4 likely sealed the fight for the former WEC and now UFC champion Ben Henderson.
“Rampage” has moment, but it is not enough as Bader controls fight
The Japanese crowd was thrilled to have Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on the card and for a moment it looked like the Rampage of old was back as he slammed a dazed Bader in the second round. That moment would be fleeting however, as Bader would assert his control shortly after and refused to relinquish it.
Rampage looked to be just a step behind all night as his power shots were consistently a split second away from landing on the younger and faster Bader. While Jackson said he injured his knee before the fight, Bader held a distinct advantage in speed and on the ground.
Hunts Drops Kongo
There are good MMA strikers and then there are K-1 Grand Prix champions, Mark Hunt is of the K-1 champion variety and it showed in Saitama. Kongo, who normally holds a technical striking advantage over opponents, was taken aback by the speed, power, and accuracy that Hunt used.
Eventually, a beautiful counter sent Kongo reeling against the cage and while Kongo tried to survive, Hunt overwhelmed him and sent him crashing to the canvas to pick up his third straight win in the UFC.
MAIN CARD (PPV)
- Ben Henderson def. Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision (49-46,48-47,49-46)
UFC Lightweight Championship
- Ryan Bader def. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson via unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)
- Mark Hunt def. Cheick Kongo via TKO (strikes) at 2:11 of Round 1
- Jake Shields defeats Yoshihiro Akiyama via unanimous decision (30-27,30-27,30-27)
- Tim Boetsch def. Yushin Okami via TKO (strikes) at :54 of Round 3
- Hatsu Hioki defeats Bart Palaszewski via unanimous decision (30-27,29-28,29-28)
- Anthony Pettis def. Joe Lauzon via KO (head kick) at 1:21 of Round 1
PRELIMINARY CARD (FX)
- Takanori Gomi def. Eiji Mitsuoka via TKO (strikes) at 2:21 of Round 2
- Vaughn Lee def. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto via submission (armbar) at 4:29 of Round 1
- Riki Fukuda def. Steve Cantwell via unanimous decision (29-28,30-27,30-27)
- Chris Cariaso def. Takeya Mizugaki via unanimous decision (29-28,29-28,29-28)
- (Facebook) Issei Tamura def. Tiequan Zhang via KO (punch) at 0:32 of Round 2
Pictured: Ben Henderson via UFC.com