(This punch-face that Bendo gave Frankie Edgar? Good *and* ugly.)
By Mark Dorsey
Inspired by the 1966 Spaghetti Western film about three gunmen who set out to find a hidden fortune during the American Civil War, this post-event wrap-up is dedicated to the moments that may have slipped through the cracks or deserve a little bit more analysis. Before we bid adieu to the resounding success that was UFC 144, join us for a look back at the event with a solid, squinty-eyed gaze that would make a macho legend like Clint Eastwood proud.
• The Japanese crowd. As expected, the Japanese crowd was politely engaged in the fights throughout the entire event. There were long periods of respectful silence during most of the action, prompting Joe Rogan to urge Mike Goldberg to take off his headphones in order to soak in the eerie quiet in the arena. Rogan is a stand-up comic who doesn’t often get the opportunity to crack jokes during the fights but it was funny when he said that event was akin to watching “a cagefight in a church.” Despite the reverent atmosphere, the crowd also had its moments of vocal fervor, erupting into chants of Hioki’s name and random “UFC” chants, while also scolding Ryan Bader with boos when he tried to tie-up Rampage from the bottom. The Japanese fans showed a lot of support to non-native fighters such as Vaughan Lee after his impressive armbar victory over Kid Yamamoto, and Tim Boetsch after his shocking comeback win over Yushin Okami. The vibe in Japan was markedly different from the UFC’s amazing shows in Toronto and Rio, but anytime there’s an event when the fans become one of the main talking points, it speaks to their passion.
• Referees. Referees usually only get the spotlight if they make a mistake or controversial decision, but sometimes they should get mentioned simply because they did a solid job. That was certainly the case at UFC 144 which saw some great stoppages. Particularly noteworthy was Herb Dean’s reaction time, jumping in to stop Mark Hunt and Issei Tamura from inflicting more damage after their devastating knockouts of Cheick Kongo and Zhang Tiequan, respectively. In a similar vein, during the Lauzon/Pettis fight, referee Marc Goddard was right on top of the action, quickly stepping in to prevent follow-up damage after Lauzon was KO’d.