UFC 144 Bleacher Report MMA Full Main Card Predictions

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UFC 144 Bleacher Report MMA Full Main Card Predictions
Frankie Edgar/Esther Lin for Yahoo! Sports

The UFC returns to "The Land of the Rising Sun" for the first time in over 12 years on Saturday and fans will likely see an early "Fight of the Year" candidate on UFC 144's main event. 

UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie "The Answer" Edgar defends his title against Ben "Smooth" Henderson in a bout that promises to deliver fireworks. 

The co-main event features former PRIDE star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson taking on former Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader in a bout that will have major implications in future light heavyweight rankings. 

Fans will also see Cheick Kongo take on Mark Hunt in a heavyweight clash, while home crowd favorite Yoshihiro Akiyama makes his welterweight debut against former 170-pound title contender Jake Shields.

Coming off a disappointing loss to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Yushin "Thunder" Okami looks to get back to his winning ways against Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch. 

In a featherweight bout with serious title implications, former Shooto and Sengoku star Hatsu Hioki will take on Bart Palaszewski. 

A bout that is shockingly just the first one on the main card, the last ever WEC lightweight champion Anthony "Showtime" Pettis takes on submission specialist Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon. 

Getting on board with the prediction team this week are Bleacher Report MMA Featured Columnists Dwight Wakabayashi, Dale De Souza, Jeffrey McKinney and myself, John Heinis. 

Take a look inside to see who will be getting their hand raised on this rarely seen four-hour, seven-fight card. 

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