(They’re both dangerous on the mat and on their feet. They’re both impossible to finish. But hell will freeze over before they both wear suits on the same day. / Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle. For more photos from this gallery, click here.)
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.
Please stand by…
Greetings, Potato Nation. I’m honored to be with you tonight, providing you with the play-by-play for the UFC’s glorious return to the land of ninjas, sushi, and splendidly depraved pornography.
I’ve got to hand it to Dana White. After all those years of complaining about the Japanese business culture, he finally made it happen. Just keep your filthy trap shut if the event fails to live up to your lofty expectations though. White has neither the time, nor the inclination to explain himself to fans who rise and sleep under the very blanket of the MMA that he provides, and then question the manner in which he provides it. He’d rather you just said ‘thank you,’ and went on your way. Either way, he doesn’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
On a serious note, this is kind of an extraordinary event, as Japan holds a special place in many of our hearts. It brings out the Pride fanboy in all of us. The only thing that could make this any better is if Wanderlei Silva storms the cage, rips the microphone from Buffer’s hands, and screams at the top of his lungs, “PRIDE NEVA DIE!”
Joe Lauzon vs.; Anthony Pettis
Round 1 – We begin, and Pettis and Lauzon are pawing. WOW, Pettis lands a head kick and it’s over!
Pettis needed an impressive showing. He got “Showtime” tattooed across his back for God’s sake. I understand it’s difficult to live up to that moniker at the highest level against guys like Clay Guida and Jeremy Stephens, but if you’re going to get a gigantic tattoo proclaiming what your thang is, then you’ve got to back that shit up. If a girl has a tattoo of some shrubbery with the term ‘VEGAN’ stamped across her shoulder, you’d fully expect her to be an exceedingly annoying person who reeks of armpits. Conversely, if a menacing fellow has a tear inked next to his eye and ‘FUCK YOU’ tattooed on his knuckles you wouldn’t expect to see him gardening, would you? Hell no! You’d expect him to suck up your tax dollars in the joint learning how to be an even scarier criminal, then go on to earn a living trading crystal meth for hookers. The point is that you have to live up to your ink. Those are just the rules.
Next up we have Bart Palaszewski vs. Hatsu Hioki
Bart comes out with lots of ink and serious hair. Hioki rolls out to some incredibly bad club music.
Round 1 – The referee is Herb Dean and it’s on. Hioki knocks Bart down with a straight right. Bart is up quickly. They trade leg kicks. Hioki going for the takedown. Bart with a guillotine. Aint happening. Hioki gets to half guard, now to side control. He’s dropping a couple elbows. He’s hammering away at Bart’s ear. That don’t look fun. Bart gives up his back trying to get up, dangerous move. Hioki has a nasty armbar, but Bart gets out of it. Now he’s in guard again. Wow! Hioki with some more ground and pound, and some BIG hammer fists. Bart trying to wall walk, but he’s going to end the round on his back. Big round for Hioki.
Round 2 – Hoiki opens with a front kick. Bart misses a leg kick. Bart connects with a good right. Hioki with a leg kick that sneaks through. Bart goes to the body. Hioki is finding a home for his jab. Bart connecting with leg kicks. Hioki goes for the head again and misses. Bart takes one in the pills instead. And he’s fine. Answers back with a low kick of his own. Hioki goes for a takedown, and climbs on Bart’s back as the buzzer sounds. Much better round for Bart, but still a close round to score.
Round 3 – Bart comes out swinging. Mostly misses. Now Bart has Hioki against the cage, but Hioki scores a trip takedown. Bart is trying to control Hioki’s posture, but Huiki gets side control. He’s dropping a few elbows. Hioki looking for a mounted crucufix, and it looks pretty sucky. He’s landing some short elbows. Bart doesn’t like it and gives up his back to get out of it. Now Hioki is on his back and working for a choke. With over a minute left, this is a real crappy place for Bart to be. Hioki working the body to try and soften Bart up. Hioki gets his arm arounf Bart’s face but cannot find the neck. It matters not, he dominates the 3rd round, and with that will get the decision.
Hatsu Hioki wins the unanimous decision. 30-27, 29-28, 29-28. Rogan is talking up Hioki as the #2 featherweight in the world, could we be seeing a title shot awarded?
Tim Boetsch is set to face off against Yushin Okami next. You gotta love Boetsch. He’s like a cross between a 9th century Viking killer and the guy who built your deck. I can guarantee you no one is happier that the UFC is back in Japan than Yushin Okami. Yush is a pimp in his homeland, and finally he gets to fight in front of a crowd that will appreciate his conservative effective fighting style.
Round 1 – Leon Roberts is the 3rd man in the cage and we’re set. Tim lands a leg kick to start things off. Then a right hand. Tim pushing forward, and eats an Okami left hand. Okami lands a straight jab, throws Tim off balance. Tim east yet another jab, has a mouse under his eye already. Tim with a head kick, blocked. Tim shoots for a takedown, Okami defends. Okami lands an inside leg kick then a punch, and he’s in command of the stand up. Okaim lands a kick to the face! Hope he cut his toe nails beforehand. Tim with some good head movement to avoid some shots. He needs more of that. Okami with a knee to the body. Tim comes alive at the end, but Okami probably took that round.
Round 2 – Tim is a little busted up, and he looks pissed. Okami with more of the same, lands a knee to the sternum., and some strikes. Tim whiffs a huge hook. Okami has Tim pressed against the cage, looking for a takedown. Tim is defending well, but now Okami is deep on a double leg, gets the takedown. Tim has a guillotine, but that isn’t going anywhere. Okami is out of danger, and looking to advance his position. Tim keeps him in half guard. Okami is going for a head and arm triangle. Now he’s dropping some punches, working the body. Okami going for a Kimura, and he’s mounted Tim. Tim is in all kinds of trouble. Okami is reigning down some hurt. Going for the arm triangle again, but it’s too late. Big round for Okami as the buzzer sounds.
Round 3 – Tim just cannot get anything going here. He needs to do something extreme. Are purple nirples against the unified rules? Cause them shits hurt. Tim is going for it, landing some serious uppercuts. Okami is hurt. And Tim Boetsch gets the knockout. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God! And wow do I sound like an idiot!
Joe Rogan calls that the greatest comeback in UFC history, and I cannot disagree. Tim came back in a serious way, and crumbled Okami at 54 seconds in the 3rd round after getting destroyed. Huge win for Tim Boetsch. I don’t know about Tim, but after the interpreter does her thing, I’ve completely forgotten the question Joe asked him.
Next up is Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama.
You’ve got to feel for Sexyama, he has not had an easy road in the UFC. And against Shields, it aint fittin’ to get any easier. Jake didn’t lose from 2004 to 2011, had 15 straight wins, and now he’s 1-2 in the UFC, and that one win was a struggle. That’s a tough pill for a guy like Shields to swallow. He’s a tough sumbitch. I mean this guy came over with a serious rep. He beat up on Dan Henderson, and no one beats up on Dan Henderson like that. Not Fedor, not Rampage, no one. And he arrives in the UFC and gets slapped down a couple notches. That’s an assault on a fighter’s manhood. For us regular fellows, that’s kind of like when you’re with your woman, and that thing happens; that horrible thing that’s supposedly “no big deal,” and “happens to all guys.” Then in a moment of sexual frustration, this previously sweet, compassionate woman unleashes a tsunami of cruelty upon you that totally emasculates you. You have no other option than to rock her world next time, but the specter of failure is now your worst enemy. It’s all mental. Shields is looking to overcome that mental obstacle and rock Akiyama’s world.
Round 1 – Marc Goddard is the ref, and we’re on. They come out pawing. Shields with the single leg, Akiyama defending well. Shields is relentless though. Akiyama stuffs it. They seperate, and go back to pawing at each other. Shields lands a few kicks. Akiyama with a big uppercut. Shields lunges desperately at Akiyama, going for another takedown. Man, Akiyama has great takedown defense. They separate again. They trade jabs. Shields looking for aanother tie up. Akiyama misses a head kick. Akiyama with the takedown, and Shields is back up. The round ends, and it’s impossible to call.
Round 2 – Shields comes out with a sense of urgency. He’s throwing a lot of kicks to the body. Akiyama lands a shot to the body. Jake forcing a tie up, and Akiyama lands a spinning back fist. Jake misses on a takedown attempt. Shields with a good body kick. Akiyama is landing a few jabs, and goes for a body kick of his own, Jake catches it and shrugs him off. Jake with a double jab. And again. Akiyama with a stiff jab of his own. Another body kick by Shields. Akiyama with a huge leg kick, checks one of Shields’. Akiyama with a huge Judo throw, Jake gets right up. Shields has him pressed against the cage now. He’s on Ayiyama’s back, but time if set to expire. Good round, very close.
Round 3 – Shields with a right. Akiyama answers with a shot. Shields with a couple more kicks. Shields with another kick to the body. Shields shoots, cannot get that takedown. Akiyama has him against the cage, throws a knee to the leg. He’s working the body, and they separate. They trade strikes, and Jake lands to the body again. Akiyama stuffs another takedown. Jake briefly gets Akiyama to the mat but he pops right back up. They’re clinched against the cage, trading knees. The ref separates them. Akiyama is swinging hard, but Jake gets his back. Akiyama grabs the fence twice, and the ref ignores it. Jake is on his back looking for a choke. Akiyama defending well. Time expires but jake finishes strong.
Jake Shields wins the unanimous decision with 30-27 across the board. Hats off to Akiyama. That fight was closer than the 30-27 decision and far from the destruction many thought it would be.
Is it me, or it that interpreter pretty cute? She’s got that Japanese schoolgirl look.
And the big boys are next, Cheick Kongo and Mark Hunt. Mark Hunt is an inspiration to all of us who are rockin’ the muffin top, especially against a guy with the extraordinary chesticles of Cheick Kongo. Kongo is a menacing presence, but Hunt fears no man. He’s Samoan.
Round 1 – Herb Dean is the referee, and it’s time to roll. They touch gloves. Kongo catches a kick and Hunt falls down. Kongo charges, and hunt reverses and pushes Kongo against the cage. They square off. Hunt misses a hook. Kongo sticks a jab. He’s got a 8 inch reach advantage. Hunt checks a leg kick. Hunt lands a huge left, stuns Kongo. Hunt lands another huge bomb. He knocks Kongo down, and descends on him. Herb Dean stops the fight. Hunt with a huge TKO.
Mark hunt earns himself a big victory at 2:11 of round 1. Hunt responds to Rogan’s question of how he feels like any man of few words would, “I feel good.” Nuff said.
Co-main event is next, Rampage Jackson vs. Ryan Bader.
Bader is still trying to erase the shame of being the only guy to lose to Tito Ortiz since Ken Shamrock in 2006, so a win over Rampage would serve him very well. Perhaps Rampage missing weight by 5 pounds will benefit Bader, aside from putting an extra 50 G’s in his pocket. Bader comes out to a Star Wars remix, very cool to accentuate his nickame, “Darth” Bader.
Rampage has stated his desire to retire with the belt he once held. So long as Bones Jones is the man, I just don’t see that happening. But hey, a fellow can dream, can’t he? I have dreams of Gina Carano forcing me to be her naughty little cabana boy. The only difference is I know my dream isn’t coming true. Regardless, Rampage is a star in Japan, and he misses his fans. The arena explodes when he walks out to the Pride theme. You just knew someone was gonna do it. He’s playing to the crowd too, the sneer, the chain, the howl. The fans love it.
Round 1 – Leon Roberts is the ref, and it’s time to roll. Rampage comes out hard, commnads the center of thee cage. Bader with a leg kick. Ram[age shoots, Bader clinches him against the cage. Lands a short left, and a couple knees to the thigh. Bader backs off. Bader with a Superman punch, hist a lot of air. Then lands an overhand right. Bader with an inside leg kick. Rampage isn’t throwing anything. He’s head-hunting. Bader going for a takedown. Rampage defending well. Big inside leg kick by Bader. Bader faking shots, and using feints. Good strategy. He shoots again, and Rampage defends. Bader has Rampage against the cage, he cannot get the takedown, but lands an uppercut and a knee. Rampage with a leg kick, how about that? Rampage unleashes and lands a hook. The round ends with Bader probably doing enough to take it.
Round 2 – Rampage looks a little gassed already. Rampage throws a giant hook, but misses. Bader with a jab, then an overhand right that is blocked. They tie up and Rampage has Bader up against the fence. Bader tries a knee and Rampage picks him up and drops him on his head. Bader looks hurt. Bader misses a right but lands a knee. Bader with a takedown of his own. He’s working some short elbows. Bader goes to the body. Bader is stuffing Rampage into the cage, and Rampage is trying to wall walk. Bader fighting to keep him on his back. Bader is landing some nice knees to the thigh. Rampage gets up, but Bader slams him back down. He lands a big right. Bader is Rampage’s guard, and he’s ending the round strong.
Round 3 – Both guys look exhausted. Rampage lands a jab. Bader ties him up against the cage. They separate. Bader shoots, Rampage stuffs. Bader with a left to the dome. Bader shoots again and lands it. He’s in side control, and this is not looking good for Rampage. Bader is firing off some knees to the body. Bader working some short elbows, noting of any great note, but he’s winning the round. Rampage kicks him off and tries to get up, Bader is glued to him again. Bader drags him to the mat again. Bader working some punches from the guard. Now half guard. Rampage working to get up, but Bader is too strong from top position. Hammer fists to the body, and now going for a Kimura. Nothing doing. Rampage reverses and Bader ends the fight going for a guillotine. I gotta think Bader took that one.
Ryan Bader wins the unanimous decision with 30-27 across the board. Huge win for Ryan Bader. He puts himself back into the top of the pack at 205.
I had the pleasure of meeting Frankie Edgar a few weeks ago when he was signing autographs and taking pictures at Hooters in Wayne, NJ. What a super nice guy. And I don’t know, maybe it was the 5 pints that the smoking hot Thai bartender served me, but I kinda thought I could take him. I maintained professionalism though, simply shook his hand, got my picture taken (proud to say I DID NOT raise the clenched fist), and commented on the grotesque size of my head as he signed the picture for me. We shared a laugh, and the belief that flannel was in fact back in, since we were both sporting the timeless garb. Then I went on my way, very happy with my first picture/autograph session with a professional fighter. Normally I’m way too cheap frugal to pay for that sort of thing, but my friend Billy is the manager of Hooters and got me that one on the arm. It pays to know people in high places.
I’m conflicted with Ben Henderson. On the one hand, he seems like a phenomenal guy, the kind of guy you’d want to be your Bible study buddy. On the other hand, I just cannot root for a guy who has wings covering his entire back.
Ben comes out to some Christian rap. He’s fired up, son! Ben gives the crowd a fist pump to get them fired up.
Frankie rolls out to some hip hop. He sprints to the cage. The champ is ready to throw down. Let’s do this!
Round 1 – Marc Goddard is the 3rd man in the cage. Both fighters look focused as hell. They touch and it’s a go. Feeling each other out, Frankie starts off with a leg kick. Then a body punch. Frankie catches a kick and puts Ben down. He gets right back up. Frankie lands a straight right. Ben with a big kick, Frankie blocks. He tosses Ben down, but again Ben gets right back up. Frankie with a nice leg kick, Ben answers, skims Frankie’s pills. But he’s OK. He keeps catching Ben’s low kicks. Body punch by Frankie. Ben lands a body kick this time. A hard one too. Frankie pushes forward with a right hand that lands. Ben lands a left, Frankie responds to the body. Frankie scores a takedown, but Ben gets up. Ben lands a knee from the clinch. Frankie with a spinning back fist, misses by a mile. Frankie with a spinning back kick, barely lands. Good first round, close.
Round 2 – Frankie has some swelling on his left eye. Frankie lands a right. Ben aiming for that eye. Lands a good kick, but Frankie catches it again. Ben doing a good job of keeping the pressure on. Frankie with a leg kick. Ben keeping a jab in Frankie’s face. Frankie catches a kick, and they trade hooks while he holds Ben’s leg. Ben lands a job. Good knee too. Frankie lands a body shot, then a left. Ben with another huge knee. Frankie pushes forward with a combination that scores. Ben checks a leg kick. Frankie lands a good left, then takes ben down. Frankie with a guillotine setup, but lets it go. Ben misses a head kick. Frankie lands a low kick, Ben responds with a punch to the grill. Frankie with a nice combination. He rushes in and eats a shot. Another takedown by Frankie. He’s in Ben’s full guard working some ground and pound. Good shot to the grill by Frankie. Ben kicks Frankie square in the face with an upkick and reverses the position. Frankie is bleeding badly. Awesome round, very close again.
Round 3 – They clash and trade punches. Frankie lands a right. Front kick misses by Frankie. Ben stuffs a takedown but Frankie lands a punch. Good body kick by Ben. Ben stuffs another takedown attempt. Frankie lands a right. Ben lands a knee to the body. Frankie ducks a couple punshes, and lands another right. Frankie is down with Ben on top. Frankie gets up, blocks a kick. Ben misses a couple elbows, Frankie lands a punch. Ben sticks a jab. Frankie with a big left, then an inside leg kick. Ben lands a great knee. Frankie sticks a takedown, but Ben pops right back up. Ben misses badly with a head kick. Frankie with a big takedown, Ben gets up as the round ends. This is a close fight.
Round 4 – The championship rounds begin. Both guys look pretty fresh. Frankie opens with a leg kick. Ben pushes forward, misses a couple jabs. Then sticks one. Ben lands a body kick. Frankie with a nice combination. Damn, Ben lands one to the jewels, a hard one too. Frankie is walking it off. He’s ready to go. Frankie with a good straight right. And another. And another. Good knee by Ben. Ben locks on a guillotine, pulls guard, and it looks tight. Frankie defends well, and is out of it. A standing Kimura forces Frankie to abandon back control. Hard leg kick by Ben lands. Another one, Frankie catches it, but does nothing with it. Frankie tosses Ben but he stays on his feet. Huge kick by Ben. Frankie lands a combination to end the round. Another super close round.
Round 5 – Ben fires up this quite Japanese crowd! He’s psyched. Frankie with a leg kick, then a straight right. Ben lands a combination of his own. Good left by Ben. Frankie fails on a takedown but lands an uppercut. Frankie with a strong left to the chops. They trade shots and clinch up. Frankie throws Ben to the ground, but Ben just keeps getting right up. Ben misses a side kick. Inside leg kick by Frankie. Two big shots by Ben. Frankie drops Ben with a shot, and Ben responds with a huge body kick. They both miss with punches. Ben with a kick, Frankie blocks. Frankie shoots, misses a takedown. Ben kicks him again. Jumping knee by Ben lands hard. Ben finishes on top in a dominant way. Wow, great fight. Close, but we could have a new champion.
The decision is in, 49-46, 48-47, and 49-46 for the NEW UFC LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION BENSON HENDERSON. Wow! Ben thanks God for giving him the strength to kick dude’s asses.
Frankie thinks he did enough to take the decision. I respectfully disagree.
Well that’s it for me, folks. We’ll analyze this bitch tomorrow when the hour is more decent. I didn’t get my old man nap in today. My ass is tired.