Lightweight title on the line in UFC’s return to Japan
HeavyMMA will have live coverage of tonight’s UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson pay-per-view event, which takes place at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, just north of Tokyo.
Tune in here for live round-by-round and fight-by-fight blogs from each of the main card fights, including a lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and top contender Ben Henderson, plus the co-main event between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Ryan Bader. Tonight’s show, the UFC’s first in Japan since December 2000, will be a special seven-fight main card spanning four hours. The pay-per-view starts at 10 p.m. Eastern.
Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
Round 1: Marc Goddard gets things started, and this important lightweight contenders battle is underway. Nice early kick from Pettis, who opens up southpaw. Lauzon comes forward with a nice combination. Then another. Pettis answers with a combo, but Lauzon blocks most of them. Push kick from Pettis. Then a giant, giant left kick. It’s on the button. Lauzon is down. He’s out. Pettis lands three shots on the ground before Goddard can get in. They’re unnecessary – the kick did the trick.
Result: Anthony Pettis def. Joe Lauzon, knockout, 1:21 Round 1
Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
Round 1: Hioki rocks Palaszewski right away, then a kick to the body. Two front kicks from Hioki. He ducks under a right and shoots for a single. He gets it briefly. Palaszewski pops up and Hioki takes him right back down – into a guillotine. But Hioki slips it nicely, passes to half guard, then passes quickly to side control. He looks for a mounted crucifix, but starts pounding away on Palaszewski’s head. Palaszewski gives up his back. Hioki goes for an arm. He’s got it. He’s torquing. But somehow Palaszewski is surviving. He rolls out of it, miraculously. He falls back into guard, and Hioki starts landing some big bombs. Palaszewski will survive the round. Hioki is a clear 10-9 winner of the first frame on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: Hioki works jabs and kicks. Nice right from Palaszewski, but Hioki isn’t fazed by it, it seems. Nice high kick from Hioki is only partially blocked. Good combination from Palaszewski is followed with a low leg kick. Good jabs from Hioki, though, to answer. Right high kick from Hioki misses, but a left is almost on the mark. Nice right leg kick from Palaszewski as he continues to work kicks. And he comes with the jab-jab-kick again. Hioki throws a kick and it lands too low, but Palaszewski says he doesn’t need any time. But Palaszewski lands a kick a little too low, too, and Hioki also says he wants to just move on. Another good leg kick from Palaszewski. Hioki shoots and gets a double as the round ends, and takes Palaszewski’s back. But not in time to do anything. It’s a very close second round, and HeavyMMA will score it for Hioki, just barely.
Round 3: Hioki ducks under a Palaszewski right and clinches up, looking for a trip takedown. He gets it. Half guard for Hioki, and he tries to work some ground and pound. He passes and gets to side control without much trouble. He looks to mount, but Palaszewski defends and gets back to half guard. Hioki gets back to side control and rains down short punches with ease. Palaszewski tries to spin out, but he has to give his back. Hioki takes the back and is looking for a rear naked choke. He gets one arm in, but Palaszewski defends for now. Short elbows from Hioki, who looks tired. Shots to the body from Hioki, who keeps the body triangle locked up and keeps working for the rear naked choke. He’s not going to get it, but he dominates the third. HeavyMMA scores the third 10-9 for Hioki and has the fight for him 30-27, though he could be 29-28 just as easily.
Result: Hatsu Hioki def. Bart Palaszewski, unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
Round 1: Good left from Okami. Good right from Boetsch. Then a nice combination. High right kick from Boetsch. Good straight jab from Okami. And as Boetsch comes over the top with a right, Okami lands a beautiful right. Boetsch works kicks. Okami continues to pepper away without much problem. Boetsch tries to come with an uppercut, but it’s not there. Nice high kick from Okami. Good inside leg kick from Boetsch, but Okami comes with a nice shot, then follows it with a head kick. Nice right hand from Boetsch, who is bleeding in the face. Good knee from Okami. Okami will take a 10-9 first round on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: Great knee to the body from Okami. Boetsch throws a high kick. They clinch up and Okami looks for the takedown. He gets hims down, but Boetsch has a guillotine. Okami looks OK, though. He’s just being patient. And finally, Okami is out and looks to pass guard. Okami looking for side control or mount after working the ground and pound patiently. Okami looking for a kimura. He gets full mount with 45 seconds left. He lays off the arm and starts raining down heavy punches. he goes for an arm triangle, but it’s not there. It’s a dominant second round for Okami, 10-9.
Round 3: Boetsch lands a kick and has Okami hurt. He starts landing uppercut after uppercut. And then a head kick. And amazingly … he lands a massive uppercut that knocks Okami right out. Boetsch swarms and lands a few more for good measure. Joe Rogan goes absolutely nuts and has already called it the greatest comeback in UFC history. And he might be right.
Result: Tim Boetsch def. Yushin Okami, knockout, 0:54 Round 3
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields
Round 1: Shields works leg kicks early, then shoots but it’s not there. Big right from Akiyama misses. Shields shoots for a single, and Akiyama mostly defends. But Shields switches for a double, then back to the single. And he can’t get it. Good defense from Akiyama. Good jab from Akiyama. Another shot from Shields, and good takedown defense again from Akiyama. Nice body kick from Shields. Nice uppercut from Akiyama. Shields shoots again, and Akiyama hits the canvas just for a second, but of little consequence. Low knee from Shields and Akiyama winces. But he won’t get the break. Shields trying to take Akiyama’s back, and Akiyama slips it. He loses his mouthpiece and they’ll break for him to put it back in. High kick from Shields is off the mark. And Akiyama misses with his own. Big takedown from Akiyama. Shields gets back up and lands a couple nice jabs. It’s a close first round, but HeavyMMA will give it to Akiyama based on the takedown defense and that late takedown of his own.
Round 2: They open with jabs, and Shields again looks for a takedown that isn’t there. Akiyama tries for another judo trip, but can’t get it. Akiyama continually shrugs off Shields’ thoughts of takedowns. Another shot from Shields, and another stuff from Akiyama. A couple left kicks to the body from Shields. They clinch up, but quickly separate. Good outside leg kick from Akiyama. Then another big takedown from Akiyama. Shields right back up and goes for a takedown of his own, and again Akiyama has no problem stuffing it. Shields is bloodied under the nose. It’s another close round, but HeavyMMA will give it to Akiyama 10-9 based on the big takedown and continued takedown defense, even though he’s not landing as many strikes.
Round 3: Right hand from Shields finds the mark. And a left from Akiyama is there. Good kicks from Shields. They trade jabs. They clinch and Shields looks for a Thai plum, but Akiyama lands a good uppercut. Another takedown attempt from Shields, and again Akiyama just takes it with ease. Shields throws more jabs, and then shoots. But again a big sprawl from Akiyama. Shields stays with it and briefly gets him down. Shields continues to hold on. And finally the ref will break them up at 1:15. And finally, Shields gets the takedown. Akiyama twice grabs the fence – will a point be taken away? SHields takes the back and tries to flatten him out. He’s going for a rear naked choke, but Akiyama will survive it. Shields wins the third round 10-9, but HeavyMMA has the fight 29-28 for Akiyama. We’ll see what the judges say, ’cause it has all the makings of a split decision.
Result: Jake Shields def. Yoshihiro Akiyama, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo
Round 1: Leg kick from Hunt, and he slips. Kongo moves in right away and clinches up. But Hunt spins him around. Kongo with a knee. They split. Left hand, then a front kick from Kongo. Leg kick from Kongo. Left hook from Hunt. Then another as Kongo comes forward, and Hunt drops Kongo. He lets him back up. Then a big fight from Hunt and he has Kongo in trouble! He pounces. Herb Dean moves in. And that’s it. Five or so right hands from Hunt are enough to do the trick. It’s another upset on tonight’s card.
Result: Mark Hunt def. Cheick Kongo, TKO, 2:11 Round 1
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
Round 1: Inside leg kick from Bader. Rampage takes the center. Rampage shoots, but Bader clinches. Bader looks for a trip takedown but it’s not happening yet. Rampage breaks free and goes back to the middle. Superman punch from Bader isn’t quite there. Big right from Bader glances. They trade near misses, and Bader clinches Rampage against the fence. They break at 1:50. Good left from Bader. Then another. Bader shoots, but can’t get the takedown and they clinch again. Good uppercut from Bader is followed by a knee, and Rampage puts his hand on the canvas to avoid the knees. Good left hook from Rampage and a shot to the body just as the round ends. It’s close, but HeavyMMA gives the first to Bader 10-9.
Round 2: Big right from Rampage just misses, and then another. Bader clinches up again and Rampage eventually gets a slam takedown, and puts Bader right … on … his … head. Rampage follows it with a kick to the body, then comes forward with a couple nice lefts. Right hand to the body from Rampage lands, but Bader pushes him and gets a takedown of his own and into half guard. Jackson looks to wall walk, but Bader keeps him down. Rampage has to give his back in order to try to work back to his feet. He finally gets there, but Bader slams him right back down and takes Rampage’s back. Rampage tries to get back to his feet, but can’t and has to fall back into guard. It’s a 10-9 second round for Bader.
Round 3: Bader pushes Rampage against the cage early. He clinches up and looks for knees. But Rampage breaks off. Bader again shoots, but Rampage stuffs it. Bader avoids a big Rampage hook, then shoots and gets the takeout and into side control. Rampage tries to get up, but Bader does a good job holding him down till about 2:20. Bader has his back and hoists him up. Bader continues to control the fight on the ground. Bader looks for a kimura. He’s not going to get it. Bader will finish by going for a guillotine. It’s not there. But still an easy 10-9 for Bader, and HeavyMMA has the fight for him 30-27.
Result: Ryan Bader def. Quinton Jackson, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson
Round 1: Leg kick opens for Edgar. Henderson throws a kick, Edgar catches it, Henderson hops on one foot for a minute – then throws an insane kick with the opposite leg – and it just misses. Henderson again kicks, and Edgar again takes it. Superman punch from Henderson is followed by a low kick that he shrugs off. Another Henderson kick, and another catch from Edgar. Then a fourth. Good left from Henderson. and another catch of a kick from Edgar. He takes Henderson down, but “Bendo” is back up quickly to land a knee. It’s a close first round, but HeavyMMA will give it to Edgar 10-9.
Round 2: Another catch of a kick from Edgar. Good right from Henderson. And then again Henderson kicks, and Edgar catches it. They clinch up and Henderson lands a nice knee. Big knee from Henderson, and a spinning back fist just misses. Edgar manages to get a slight takedown and goes for a front choke, then briefly takes Henderson’s back. Good combos from Henderson. But with 50 seconds left, Edgar gets a nice takedown. Henderson looking for a submission attempt, and he catches Edgar with an upkick and Edgar is gushing blood from his nose, which is probably broken. Heavy gives Round 2 to Henderson 10-9.
Round 3: Edgar lands a nice right. Henderson briefly clinches up. Edgar’s nose is in bad shape. He lays off a single and lands a nice punch. Edgar shoots for the takedown, but can’t get it. Traded rights, but Edgar’s is better. Then a pair of kicks. Henderson takes Edgar’s back, then takes him back down. On the way back up, Edgar eats a knee. Good takedown from Edgar, but Henderson is right back up. High kick from Henderson just misses. Good takedown from Edgar as the round ends. HeavyMMA will score it 10-9 for Henderson.
Round 4: Good high kick from Edgar, and Henderson follows with his own kick. Henderson lands a kick too low, and Edgar will get some time to recover. Good right hands from Edgar after they start back up. Good knee from Henderson, and Edgar slams him. But right into a guillotine, Henderson’s best submission. But Edgar gets out of it. Edgar catches two more kicks from Henderson. Good right from Edgar. Then another takedown from Edgar, followed by a kick to the body from Henderson. Fairly close round, but HeavyMMA will give it to Henderson, 10-9.
Round 5: Kick early from Edgar. Edgar again catches a kick and tries to turn it into offense. Good uppercut from Edgar. And a straight left that Henderson just shrugs off. Big right from Henderson. Edgar drops Henderson with a right, unless it’s more of a slip. Edgar looks for a takedown, but it’s not happening. He’ll shoot in, but can’t get the takedown again. Good knee from Henderson just as the fight is about to close. Henderson finishes on top, and it looks like the title is going to change hands. HeavyMMA scores the fifth for Henderson 10-0 adn the fight for him 49-46.
Result: Ben Henderson def. Frankie Edgar, unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46)