Former WEC champ added to Japan card
It will likely be a win-or-go-home situation for Steve Cantwell when he next gets in the Octagon.
Cantwell (7-5, 1-4 UFC) will have gone more than three years since his last victory when he faces Fukuda on Feb. 25 – and he’ll have to do it on his opponent’s home turf at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, just north of Tokyo.
Cantwell beat Razak Al-Hassan at the UFC’s first Fight for the Troops show in December 2008. Since then, he’s dropped four straight unanimous decisions to Luiz Cane, Brian Stann, Cyrille Diabate and, most recently, Mike Massenzio at UFC 136 last month. Cantwell has heard at least one 30-27 score come across in each of those losses. Against Massenzio, he made his debut at middleweight, but with a similar result as his previous three bouts at light heavyweight.
Fukuda (17-5, 0-1 UFC) will be fighting for the first time in more than a year. He made his UFC debut in February, losing a unanimous decision to Nick Ring at UFC 127 in Sydney. He was expected to meet Rafael Natal in August, but suffered a knee injury in a car accident and was forced out of the fight.
Prior to his loss to Ring, Fukuda had won seven straight in Deep and Dream events in Japan, including a unanimous decision win over Murilo “Ninja” Rua, older brother of former UFC champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
UFC 144 will be the promotion’s return to Japan for the first time since December 2000. The pay-per-view will be headlined by a lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and top contender Benson Henderson. Also on the card are bouts between Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon and Yoshihiro Akiyama and Jake Shields.