Back in 2008 Benson Henderson was looking to take his career to the next level. Coming off of a dominant win over Diego Saraiva, the 7-1 lightweight decided that the best way to the big stage was to try out forThe Ultimate Fighter 9: United States vs. United Kingdom. He fell short in his bid to be on the show, (either that or UFC matchmaker Joe Silva had other plans for him), but was instead given a chance in the UFC’s feeder league, the WEC, where he fought three months prior to and the same month that the show began filming.
Konichiwa, bitches, and welcome to our liveblog presentation of the UFC 144 pay-per-view card. We’ve got seven more fights to go at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, leading up to the headlining lightweight title bout between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson. Along the way, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis will try to invent a new kick against Joe Lauzon, Yoshihiro Akiyama makes his last sexy stand against Jake Shields, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson defends his old PRIDE turf against Ryan Bader.
Handling play-by-play for this leg of our journey is Anthony Gannon, who will be throwin’ down results after the jump starting at 10 p.m. ET. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and let your voice be heard in the comments section. As was predicted in the ancient fart scrolls, this is gonna be one hell of a night.
“Where I come from, fighters who question my motivation get smacked.” (Video: YouTube/FuelTV)
The good news is that all of tonight’s fighters will throw down as expected, but that doesn’t mean it was smooth sailing for everyone stepping on the scales last night.
Under the guise of laughter, Rampage had refused to disclose his weight in Dana’s second video blog, but as we’ve learned time and time again it’s all fun and games until someone misses weight. Jackson tipped the scales at 211lbs, missing the Light Heavyweight cap by five pounds. In a post-weigh-in interview with Ariel Helwani, Rampage cited an unspecified injury in training camp as the reason he failed to make weight. Despite a doctor’s recommendation to withdraw from the bout, he pushed through camp and managed to cut 21-pounds but was unable to shed the last five.
Though he had no harsh words for his opponent, Ryan Bader, Rampage did take the time to lash out at Rich Franklin. The former Middleweight Champ commentated the proceedings for Fuel TV and questioned Jackson’s professionalism as well as whether or not he’d taken his training camp seriously. Understandably, Rampage, who has proven increasingly impatient with his critics, took umbrage to those assertions. In addition to losing the esteem of some of his colleagues, Jackson will forfeit 20% of his purse to his opponent.
After the jump, Bader’s reaction to Rampage’s weigh-in snafu, up-close videos of the Rampage-Bader and Edgar-Henderson face-offs, and full results from the scales.
Check out the pre-fight press conference video above, which, aside from the occasional translation flub, goes off without a hitch. Just a warning: due to the fact that everything is being translated into Japanese as it is being said, it is difficult to understand the questions at hand every so often. But honestly, who gives a shit? THE UFC IS BACK IN JAPAN, BABY!!!
While we’re discussing how awesome Japan is, join us after the jump for the anime-style trailer for UFC 144, which is easily the coolest thing you will see all day, and possible ever.
(In the main event, actor Ryan Reynolds defends his belt against a 100% Asian version of Ben Henderson. Plus, Rampage Jackson faces off against a prime Wes Sims. The referee for this evening will be Dan Miragliotta.)
The UFC’s return to Japan this weekend features plenty of attractive opportunities to earn money without working for it. So where do the edges lie? How much better will the UFC’s Japanese stars look on their home turf? And should you really be betting money with tax season coming up? (Just kidding, that one was a trick question.) Complete UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson odds are below, via BestFightOdds, followed by our occasionally-helpful betting advice. Check it out, and be sure to come back to CagePotato Saturday night for our liveblog of the fights, starting with the FX prelims broadcast at 8 p.m. ET.
Frankie Edgar (-125) vs. Ben Henderson (+115)
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (-237) vs. Ryan Bader (+220)
Cheick Kongo (-270) vs. Mark Hunt (+270)
Jake Shields (-300) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (+269)
Yushin Okami (-331) vs. Tim Boetsch (+300)
Hatsu Hioki (-167) vs. Bart Palaszewski (+155)
Anthony Pettis (-220) vs. Joe Lauzon (+220)
PRELIMINARY CARD (FX)
Takanori Gomi (-200) vs. Eiji Mitsuoka (+175)
Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto (-288) vs. Vaughan Lee (+275)
Riki Fukuda (-300) vs. Steve Cantwell (+258)
Takeya Mizugaki (-200) vs. Chris Cariaso (+172)
PRELIMINARY BOUT (Facebook)
Tiequan Zhang (-250) vs. Issei Tamura (+250)
(The toothpick, the facial stubble, the long hair — I think it’s obvious what look Bendo is going for here.)
UFC 144‘s lightweight title headliner between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson smells like an instant classic — the kind of bell-to-bell, all-over-the-cage firefight that has made both men into stars. So who’s going home with the belt on Saturday night? Check out some of our favorite animated GIFs featuring both fighters, and let us know what you think…
If you weren’t excited about the next major Zuffa show on February 25 before, this 10-minute extended preview should get you pumped for the first UFC show in Japan in more than 10 years.
You know the card for UFC 144 is good when Yushin Okami, “Kid” Yamamoto and Hatsu Hioki are on the prelims. The card is stacked. Edgar versus Bendo will be a fast-paced chess match, Rampage versus Bader should be a slugfest, Hunt versus Kongo will be a K-1 bout in a cage and Pettis versus Lauzon is an interesting clash of styles. What’s not to like about this event?
The only other fighter even close to Dos Santos in terms of salary was that of his victim, Cain Velasquez, who took home an even $100,000 for his efforts. Check out the full salary list below. Keep in mind, these figures are void of any locker room bonuses, fight bonuses, sponsorships, or any other nonsense.