Wanderlei Silva, Mark Hunt, Takanori Gomi, the Saitama Super Arena — if you squint your eyes, maybe you can convince yourself that PRIDE, in fact, neva die. The UFC is back in Japan today with a crowd-pleasing lineup of battle-scarred legends, rising stars, and whatever you’d call Diego Sanchez and Brian Stann at this point. (“Reliable bangers”? Yeah, I guess that works.)
Taking us through the action is George Shunick, who will be stacking live results from the FUEL TV main card after the jump beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and share your own feelings in the comments section.
If your cable provider doesn’t offer Fuel and you missed the UFC 144 countdown show last night, not to worry, we got you covered again.
It’s been a quiet week media-wise for the event, mostly because the majority of the fighters on the card and the few reporters planning on attending the show have been travelling to Japan. It seems like more focus of MMA news this week has been on the upcoming Strikeforce card, which is curious considering Saturday night’s event is a decent one.
Enjoy it. After this event and UFC: Alves vs. Kampmann on March 2, there won’t be another show until UFC: Sweden on April 14. That’s a six week stretch without a UFC show. At least our wives will be happy.
Anyway, this countdown show was a decent one. It’s interesting to hear guys like ‘Rampage’ and Akiyama talk about the difference between the North American and Japanese crowds, especially when it was like comparing apples to oranges between PRIDE and the UFC. Now we’ll finally get to see the disparity first hand.
I think I was most impressed with the level of respect Akiyama showed his opponent, Jake Shields, whom he praised for his skill level and fight smarts. It’s rare to see that in a pre-fight interview. He even found a way to make boring and conservative sound better by saying that Jake “isn’t explosive.” ’Sexyama’ could sell a Kia to a BMW enthusiast.
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?
According to UFC president Dana White, joining a main event lightweight championship bout between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson on the card will be a welterweight showdown between former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields and Japanese fan favorite Yoshihiro Akiyama, who will be make his 170-lb debut that night.
Confirmation comes at the 12:35 mark of the press conference highlights. Props to MMAFighting.com for the video.
Leading up to last night’s historic UFC on Fox broadcast, there were rumors that the winner of Benson Henderson vs. Clay Guida would be fighting Frankie Edgar in Japan for the UFC lightweight title. As you know, Ben Henderson went on to defeat Clay Guida by unanimous decision in a Fight of the Night winning performance. Now, it has been confirmed that Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar will be the main event of the UFC’s return to Japan.
Since losing to Anthony Pettis back at WEC 53, Ben Henderson has gone 3-0 in the UFC. Even though all three victories have come by unanimous decision, Henderson has proven that he is incapable of being involved in a boring fight. Likewise, Frankie Edgar is coming off of a come from behind fourth round TKO over Gray Maynard at UFC 136 in October.
(I can already hear her voice, caressing me like a newborn and telling me that everything will be OK.)
When Dana White first announced that the UFC planned to hold both a live event in Japan and Las Vegas on the same night, many of us sat back and scratched our heads, wondering what in the hell “The Baldfather” was hoping to achieve with such a maneuver and more importantly, how he would pull it off. When we found out we would be treated to a free Japan card followed by a Vegas PPV card, most of us rejoiced, but still found ourselves doubting the likelihood of such a exorbitant event actually coming to fruition. Well, we hate to say we told you so, but as it turns out, you won’t have to roll out of bed at 10 a.m. to catch the free Japan card. Matter of fact, you won’t be getting a free card at all.
Now, either the UFC is teaching him a lesson for wanting “Anderson Silva Money” for stepping in on short notice to face Rashad Evans at UFC 133 or they want to save the Japanese-Brazilian fighter for its February 26 return to Japan. Either way, Lyoto, who only fought once in 2011 at UFC 129 in April, won’t even be making Strikeforce Challengers money the rest of the year. Lucky for him he has the Knockout of the Night bonus he got for retiring Randy Couture and knocking out his tooth.
“When we go to Japan next year, we are going to be putting on a show at the same time in Las Vegas,” [Dana White] said…When asked how the company was going to handle a dual-show evening from a television standpoint, White just smiled and said, “You’ll see.”
Keep in mind that “you’ll see” may be code for “I have no fucking clue at this point.”
(“…In situations that the Planeteers cannot resolve alone, they can combine their powers to summon ‘Prime Sakuraba‘, a magical entity who possesses all of their powers magnified.” / Photo via BloodyElbow)
The UFC held a press conference earlier today in Tokyo, formally announcing their plans to host an event at the Saitama Super Arena on February 26th, 2012. No matchups were announced, but Japanese stars including Yushin Okami, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Takanori Gomi, Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto, Hatsu Hioki, and Michihiro Omigawa were all mentioned as likely participants. Former PRIDE stars like Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, Quinton Jackson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira are also possibilities.
Though the UFC held four events in Japan from 1997-2000, this will be the first Japanese show organized by the UFC while under Zuffa ownership. The prelims will begin at 10 a.m. local time (with the main card starting at noon) so that the event can be broadcast live at the usual time slot for North American viewers. It’s not clear yet whether UFC Japan 2012 will be a pay-per-view or “Fight Night” card, and no details were given regarding the event’s local broadcast plans.
Following a recorded video message from Dana White at the press conference, Zuffa LLC Asia Executive Vice President and Managing Director Mark Fischer addressed the media in attendance, saying: