Kid Yamamoto, Takanori Gomi among Japanese fighters on prelims
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 preliminary card fights, including bouts involving Japanese MMA legends Takanori Gomi and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Gomi meets UFC newcomer Eiji Mitsuoka in a lightweight bout, and Yamamoto takes on England’s Vaughan Lee. Tonight’s first prelim fight between China’s Tiequan Zhang and Issei Tamura will stream live at the UFC’s Facebook page at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. The remaining four bouts leading into the pay-per-view will air live on the FX cable channel starting at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Tonight’s UFC 144 pay-per-view, featuring a lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and top contender Ben Henderson, will be a special seven-fight main card spanning four hours. The pay-per-view starts at 10 p.m. Eastern.
Tiequan Zhang vs. Issei Tamura
Round 1: It’s China vs. Japan to open up the hisotric UFC 144. Lead left from Tamura and a right follows that stuns Zhang. But Zhang answers back and knocks Tamura down. But Tamura is up quickly, and down goes Zhang. Zhang falls back into guard and is holding on trying to defend. Tamura lands some good ground and pound as Zhang covers up and Looks for a way out. Zhang works his way over to the fence as Tamura looks to add some elbows to his short hammer fists. And at 2:20, Herb Dean stands them up – a bad break for Tamura, who was in half guard and appeared to be working. Zhang, in the clinch, tries to work for a guillotine. And it looks like he’s got one tied up – but Tamura forces the fight to the ground and is able to maneuver his way out of the choke. Zhang falls back into high guard and will again have to defend from his back up along the cage. Zhang looks for an arm triangle from the bottom, but he can’t quite sink it in. Tamura finishes the round in top position, and he’ll take the frame 10-9 on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: Zhang works a couple inside leg kicks. But out of nowhere, a GIANT right hand from Tamura drills Zhang. Zhang’s right leg buckles underneath him, and he is OUT. Tamura lands two shots on the ground before Dean can get in there to shut it down. That was a massive knockout for Tamura in his UFC debut – on just two weeks notice in his home country.
Result: Issei Tamura def. Tiequan Zhang, knockout, 0:32 Round 2
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
Round 1: High left kick from Cariaso is partially blocked by Mizugaki. Outside leg kick from Mizugaki, and Cariaso follows with another left high kick. Nice pair of inside jabs from Cariaso as they clinch. Mizugaki looks to shoot, but Cariaso defends nicely. Cariaso lands a couple nice shots and Mizugaki stumbles a little. Good counter left from Mizugaki lands, and he ties Cariaso up and lands a good takedown. Cariaso falls into full guard and looks for an omoplata – but he can’t hang on and Mizugaki scrambles out. Mizugaki lands a nice left from on top, and Cariaso looks for an armbar. Cariaso landing some decent shots from the bottom. Good active guard from Cariaso. Mizugaki unable to pass. It’s a close first round thanks to the takedown from Mizugaki. But HeavyMMA is going to score the first round for Cariaso, 10-9.
Round 2: Good strikes from Mizugaki, and Cariaso counters nicely. They clinch up for a few seconds, then break. Head kick attempt from Cariaso, and then again. Mizugaki lands a couple nice rights, though. Nice left from Cariaso, and Mizugaki is unable to land a few big rights as counters. Mizugaki again lands a takedown and is into Cariaso’s guard. He’ll try to pass, but he’s unable to. He looks for ground and pound. Cariaso wraps up a neck crank and uses it to sweep and get back to his feet. HeavyMMA will give Round 2 to Mizugaki, 10-9.
Round 3: High kick from Cariaso, but partially blocked. Mizugaki clinches up and pushes his opponent to the fence. Cariaso works short knees. Mizugaki answers back. Cariaso looks for a takedown, but Mizugaki defends. They break as Cariaso lands a couple quick shots. Good straight left from Cariaso leads to a clinch. Cariaso again looks for the high kick, but it looks like a partial slip leads to Mizugaki on top in the center of the cage. Mizugaki looks to land some ground and pound, and Cariaso tries to land shots from the bottom. Mizugaki will finish the fight on the feet, looking for a combination, but Cariaso lands a heavy hand just before the bell. Mizugaki is going to get the third round on our card 10-9, and the fight 29-28 – though it could be 30-27.
Result: Chris Cariaso def. Takeya Mizugaki, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell
Round 1: Nice head kick from Cantwell, but Fukuda uses it to go right into a takedown. Cantwell looking to attack the shoulder, but it’s not happening, and Fukuda works some good ground and pound. Cantwell finally gets back to his feet and begins to work some kicks. Good overhand right. Fukuda looks for a takedown, but Cantwell stuffs it easily. Good straight right from Cantwell, and as Fukuda moves in. But Cantwell shrugs it off. Fukuda gets inside and throws a nice right, but Cantwell follows with a nice one of his own. Short Superman punch from Cantwell isn’t there, and Cantwell wings a big right that isn’t there. Good couple lefts from Cantwell, and he closes out the round with two really nice kicks. Those might be the difference to the judges. HeavyMMA gives the first to Cantwell 10-9, though it’s close.
Round 2: Good Fukuda kicks, and Cantwell answers with one of his own. Fukuda goes for a single, but Cantwell locks up a guillotine. It’s nice. But Fukuda defends, and eventually Cantwell has to give it up. Fukuda gets back to his feet, and in the clinch he lands a few nice shots. But Fukuda answers back with some good uppercuts. Fukuda goes for another single, and Cantwell defends it again. Good left hook from Cantwell. Fukuda throws a nice left hook. Fukuda throws some good strikes, and Cantwell is like a statue just eating them. Spinning elbow from Cantwell to try to get out of there, and he fires back a few shots to get Fukuda to back off. But Cantwell ate some shots and he looks for them again, with more uppercuts. Fukuda continuing to land good strikes, especially uppercuts when he gets inside. Cantwell eats a kick to the babymaker, and he’ll get some time to recover. If he’s smart he’ll use as much time as he is allowed to recover a bit. But they start back pretty quickly with about 30 seconds left in the round. And out of nowhere, Cantwell gets a takedown and tries to take Fukuda’s back. They’ll finish standing. HeavyMMA will give the second to Fukuda, 10-9.
Round 3: Fukuda is dominating the striking battle in this fight, and he appears to be much fresher right now than Cantwell. He lands some more great shots and Cantwell tries to answer. Fukuda continues to land with relative ease, and he shoots for a double and gets it. Cantwell looking for a triangle, then tries for an arm. He may go for a gogoplata, but he can’t get it. Fukuda briefly takes Cantwell’s back, then gets side control momentarily. But Cantwell gets back to his feet. He’ll have about 1:45 to put something together. Again, Fukuda begins to tee off. Cantwell has basically no defense, or he’s too tired to defend. Nice body kicks from Fukuda, and he has Cantwell against the fence Cantwell has nothing left. Fukuda won’t finish him, but he dominates the third. Heavy gives the last to Fukuda 10-9 and the fight to him 29-28.
Result: Riki Fukuda def. Steve Cantwell, unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
Round 1: Yamamoto circles on the outside. No real action for the first minute until Yamamoto jumps in with a nice right. Lee comes inside and lands a nice left in the clinch. Good right hook from Yamamoto, and Lee gets inside and lands a nice shot of his own. Good right from Yamamoto drops Lee, and Yamamoto starts teeing off as Lee covers up. Looks like most of Yamamoto’s shots were landing on Lee’s arms, though Yamamoto landed a nice knee, too. After they break, Lee lands a gorgeous knee and Yamamoto is stunned for a bit. They clinch, and that’s Kid’s chance to recover a little bit. Good right from each fighter lands. Lee again wobbles Yamamoto, and to defend Yamamoto shoots for a takedown. But Lee has a triangle, and he lands hammer fists. He goes for an armbar on the tail end of it – and Yamamoto taps! Yamamoto slams his fist into the canvas as Lee celebrates.
Result: Vaughan Lee def. Norifumi Yamamoto, submission (armbar), 4:29 Round 1
Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
Round 1: Nice right from Mitsuoka, and another one as he dances away from Gomi’s punches. And another good right from Mitsuoka. Gomi lands one of his own, though. But Mitsuoka with a nice jab, and then a left hand is good. Mitsuoka shoots for an ankle, but can’t get the takedown. Gomi with two nice knees, and then a third. He follows that up with a nice jab. But Mitsuoka again with a nice jab. Gomi changes up his stance and fakes a knee. Mitsuoka with a shot, but it’s not there. Big winging right from Gomi just misses. Mitsuoka catches Gomi with a hook, and looks like he has Gomi hurt. Gomi with a good inside leg kick. Mitsuoka with another nice left, then a right. Then a nice jab to answer Gomi’s jabs. Gomi comes forward, but Mitsuoka lands a giant right that puts Gomi on his knees. Mitsuoka jumps in, takes Gomi’s back and gets a mounted triangle. The clock is working against him. Gomi looks like he might tap – but he doesn’t and just barely survives the round. It’s a 10-9 first round for Mitsuoka on the HeavyMMA card.
Round 2: Good body kick from Gomi as we open. It looks like Gomi wants to stand and start throwing haymakers. And he lands some. Mitsuoka looks a little hurt. He shoots in for a single. It’s not there, and as they break, Gomi starts dropping more bombs. Mitsuoka’s hands are down and he’s getting tagged over and over. Mitsuoka tries to hold on to a single leg, but Gomi is dropping bombs. Mitsuoka is covering up and Leon Roberts is warning him to fight back. He can’t. Roberts has to wave it off.
Result: Takanori Gomi def. Eiji Mitsuoka, TKO (strikes), 2:21 Round 2