UFC 144 took place on Saturday February 25 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan (though it happened on Sunday morning locally in Japan). The pay-per-view was super-sized with seven fights airing live during the broadcast. Including the first fight of the night between Issei Tamura and Tiequan Zhang that was originally aired on Facebook, all twelve fights ended up being broadcast either on FX or during the pay-per-view broadcast.
On RecapRadio Brent Todd and John Petit had given their predictions for the event. Even just going with the winners they thought would win, Todd went 2-5 and Petit went 4-3. The results were some of the most exciting and craziest in recent history.
The submission of the night award was easy to hand out as there was only one submission. Vaughan Lee defeated Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto by armbar late in the first round. The two each blasted the other with big punches with Yamamoto nearly finishing early in the round. But Lee was able to recover and after Yamamoto was hurt, Lee rushed and locked in a triangle. The submission looked deep, but Yamamoto wasn’t tapping. Lee switched to an armbar and that was all that was needed to earn the tap.
Five fights ended by either knockout or technical knockout making the decision for who would earn the $65,000 bonus difficult. The first fight of the night between Tamura and Zhang was a great start to the night as Tamura landed a vicious right that sent Zhang to la-la-land.
Still part of the preliminary fights, Takanori Gomi showed some of what made Gomi so popular as he was able to earn a technical knockout over Eiji Mitsuoka. In the second round while both fighters seemed extremely gassed, Gomi started to connect with his strikes. It wasn’t long before Mitsuoka wasn’t responding and Gomi just unloaded everything he had into punching Mitsuoka until the referee was forced to stop the fight.
Both Tim Boetsch and Mark Hunt had impressive knockouts in their bouts against Yushin Okami and Cheick Kongo respectively. Boetsch was losing his fight to Okami badly. Knowing he was down two rounds to none Boetsch came out in the third swinging. He staggered Okami with a straight punch. Boetsch smelled blood and swarmed with tricky uppercuts. The assault of uppercuts continued until Okami fell to the floor in a bad way and Boetsch landed two more before the ref stopped the fight.
Many felt that Hunt was going to be seriously outmatchedand outworked by Kongo. But that never happened. Early in the fight Hunt dropped Kongo but decided to let Kongo get right back up. The second time he wasn’t as nice as he swarmed Kongo and rained down punch after punch until Herb Dean was force to save Kongo from eating any more damage.
With Boetsch’s come from behind knockout and Hunt’s impressive striking display it would take a special kind of knockout to earn the extra $65,000. And an impressive knockout did happen. Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon seemed happy to trade punches. Pettis lands a kick to the body on Lauzon but Lauzon continues to press forward. Pettis threw another kick, Lauzon went to block it low, but the kick sailed high and connected perfectly on Lauzon’s head and Lauzon was unconscious.
The main event screamed Fight of the Night award even before the first punch was thrown. Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson have been in several battles that were amazing and exciting. Edgar caught nearly every one of Henderson’s kicks and then proceeded to punch him in the face for even throwing a kick. But Henderson had more than just kicks at the ready as he blasted Edgar with straight punches that bloodied up Edgar quickly. The fight was a twenty-five minute back and forth battle that was extremely close. The judges had their work cut out for them but in the end they awarded the fight to Henderson crowing a new champ. Even though Edgar lost, he still pocketed an extra $65,000 for the performance as the fight was deemed the Fight of the Night.
Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46)
Ryan Bader defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Mark Hunt defeated Cheick Kongo via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:11
Jake Shields defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tim Boetsch defeated Yushin Okami via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 0:54
Hatsu Hioki defeated Bart Palaszewski via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Anthony Pettis defeated Joe Lauzon via knockout (kick and punches) – Round 1, 1:21
Takanori Gomi defeated Eiji Mitsuoka via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:21
Vaughan Lee defeated Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:29
Riki Fukuda defeated Steve Cantwell via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Chris Cariaso defeated Takeya Mizugaki via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Issei Tamura defeated Tiequan Zhang via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 0:32
Tags: Anthony Pettis, Bart Palaszewski, Benson Henderson, Cheick Kongo, Chris Cariaso, Eiji Mitsuoka, Frankie Edgar, Hatsu Hioki, Issei Tamura, Jake Shields, Joe Lauzon, Mark Hunt, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Riki Fukuda, Ryan Bader, Steve Cantwell, Takanori Gomi, Takeya Mizugaki, Tiequan Zhang, Tim Boetsch, UFC 144, Vaughan Lee, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Yushin Okami