UFC 144 Fight Card: 10 Questions That Will Be Answered
The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes it way to Japan for the UFC 144 event, marking the first time the promotion has made a stop in the country since late in the year 2000 for UFC 29.
Just like before any huge UFC event, there are lot's of questions going in, and even though some of those will get answered, even more questions will remain after the octagon is packed up and headed home.
Let's have a look at the 10 questions that we can expect to get answered this weekend in Japan!
Can the UFC Pull off a Successful Event in the Japanese Market?
MMA fans in Japan are used to a long and storied history of MMA with Pride FC. One thing that the fans will have to adjust to with the UFC coming to town will be the use of the cage instead of the ring.
While in the long run, the cage versus ring debate here might seem very arbitrary, the question still remains if the UFC can pull off a great event and give the fans a show reminiscent of what they are used to seeing from a top flight organization.
This event will prove to either be a one-and-done foray into Japan for the UFC, or it could open the doors to many more events taking place in the country.
Will Yushin Okami Be Gun-Shy in His Return?
Yushin Okami is entering his first fight after taking a devastating knockout at the hands of Anderson Silva.
We have seen how different fighters comeback from fights like that, and it will be interesting to see if Okami will re-claim a dominant stake in the middleweight division, or will he start to slowly slide down the ladder.
Okami's opponent, Tim Boetsch, will provide a good test of Okami's skills, as Boetsch has looked like a new man since making the move to the middleweight division.
How Can Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon NOT Win Fight of the Night?
Alright, we all know there are plenty of ways that this fight might not win Fight of the Night, but it is my personal favorite to take the bonus at the end of the night.
Both guys are fast, very slick in their movements and can straight up fight anywhere in the octagon.
We might not see an amazing highlight-reel finish in this fight, but it will be surprising if it's not action from start until when the fight finishes.
If this fight fails to win FOTN, it wouldn't be shocking to see it taken by the Hatsu Hioki versus Bart Palaszewski fight.
Has Jake Shields Recovered from His Last Loss?
In his last fight, Jake Shields was made quick work of by Jake Ellenberger, as he was knocked out in just under a minute.
Heading into that fight, Shields faced a lot of personal troubles with his father passing away in the weeks leading up to the bout.
It will be interesting to see if the distractions are behind Shields and he can come in and perform against a man who will be a hometown favorite in Yoshihiro Akiyama, at least heading into hostile territory is nothing new for Shields though (see: UFC 129 versus Georges St. Pierre).
What Is the Talent Level of Japanese Fighters?
This could have a direct relation as to how successful the whole event is deemed, but if all the Japanese fighters on the card flop, it could be bad.
While the talent pool of Japanese isn't completely shallow, it's nothing to be marveled over, especially not on this card.
The Japanese fighter who they are praising the highest on this card (Akiyama) has three straight losses on his record, all coming inside the UFC.
Does a Win Put Cheick Kongo into Title Contention?
Cheick Kongo has been the definition of mediocrity in his UFC career. Win a few fights, then lose a few fights. Right when you think he is about to break through to that elite status, he regresses.
Kongo has successfully gone 3-0-1 in his last four fights, and is again on the cusp of breaking through. A win of Mark Hunt could push Kongo into a high profile matchup for his next fight.
Kongo is a big favorite in the fight, but hopefully he isn't taking Hunt lightly, who can end anyone's night with one punch.
Can Ryan Bader Be a Real Contender?
Ryan Bader dazzled in his last outing, knocking out Jason Brilz in quick fashion, but now the competition takes a big step up when he faces Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson.
We can give Bader a pass in how he looked against current champion Jon Jones, but his loss to Tito Ortiz is still fresh in the memory of some fans, and puts a question mark on Bader, as to see if he is a real contender or not.
He doesn't have to go out and dominate Rampage, though it would help, but he just has to not look terrible against him. Rampage Jackson is considered a top 5, if not top 3 light-heavyweight fighter, and an impressive showing here would do wonders for Bader.
Could This Be Rampage's Falling out of the Elite Class of the Division?
If Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson gets beat by Ryan Bader at UFC 144, I will not be the least bit surprised if Rampage calls it quits....at least for a little while.
The recent history of Rampage Jackson is well documented, and there are a lot of questions as to how committed he is to his MMA career, or if he's just killing time until his next movie role.
If Rampage suffers a loss to Bader, it would be a long road back to a title shot for 'Page, and that might be something he doesn't have a lot of interest in doing.
Let's not count our chickens before they hatch here, as this is completely hypothetical, but very realistic at the same time.
How Dangerous Is Ben Henderson?
Ben Henderson has gone 3-0 since being absorbed into the UFC, and has found himself in the face of lightweight champion Frankie Edgar looking to go home with his belt.
Henderson has been nothing short of impressive in his fights thus far, but this will be his first true test of elite level competition. With no disrespect to Clay Guida or Jim Miller, they are both not on the 'Frankie Edgar' level right now.
Just how effective the skills of Bendo will be against Edgar will truly show how skilled he is, and how much of a threat he will be to the rest of the division. If he gives Edgar the fight of his life, win or lose, the rest of the lightweight division will not be happy to know the road to a title will potentially go though Henderson.
Do We Respect Frankie Edgar Yet?
I know, I know, this question has been beaten to death!
After his last fight against Gray Maynard, all questions should have been answered, and yes, Frankie Edgar is the best lightweight in the UFC, there's no questioning that at this current moment.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is still so many Frankie Edgar detractors out there, that he is still not considered a real deserving champion. But, how can you deny the man? He's beaten BJ Penn twice, knocked out Gray Maynard to avenge his only loss, and taken on every challenge that has faced him and succeeded.
While you can call him a boring fighter for his lack of finishes, you can never call him an undeserving champion.
Those are 10 questions that are looking to get answered heading into UFC 144. What are you looking forward to finding out?