The UFC is finally back in the land of the rising sun, and UFC 144 is packed with Japanese talent and martial artists who are known for making explosive fights.
It is the UFC's long-awaited return to Japan, and that means that the card has been loaded up in order to make a good impression.
Between the impact that this card could have on the company's immediate future in Japan and the fighters and bouts placed on it, the card should be one of the best of the year and a great start to UFC's foray into Japan.
While the UFC has been in Japan before, it was under the prior management of SEG and the last event that they put on before being bought out by Zuffa.
That makes this unofficially the first appearance of the UFC in Japan.
It means that the current UFC needs to impress and make the event unforgettable.
The UFC has started to soften cards in recent months because of the large amounts of dates they now have, but because they are pushing into a new market, the card for UFC 144 is filled with impressive resumes and A-list talent.
There are promotions that use cages in Japan, but they are few and far between.
Most still opt for a ring much like the ones used in boxing and pro wrestling.
Many Japanese promotions also have more of a carnival-type atmosphere in their promotions.
In contrast, the UFC has a direct style of promoting in which the fighters come out and compete with only a little extra flavor added into the mix.
The Octagon also adds a bit of a change up in not only how wars are waged, but in the very rules that are allowed in them.
Will the fans cheer?
Will they boo?
It is up in the air right now, but it's worth paying just to find out.
Pride was well-loved in Japan as well as in America when it was around.
Many of its fights were as competitive as the ones seen in the UFC, though the promotion was different.
Pride took a page from pro wrestling and allowed its fighters to have some of the most over-the-top entrances in MMA history. It added to the event and made it even more fun.
While this is something that the UFC has stayed away from, it couldn't hurt to inject a little bit of it into UFC 144 for nostalgia.
The UFC decided to ramp up the card by making the pay-per-view have seven fights on it instead of the traditional five, but didn't increase the cost of the PPV.
No matter what kind of fights they could be, the fact that fans are getting more MMA action without having to pay for it is a great deal.
There is little chance the UFC is going to do something like this again in 2012, so fans should jump on the chance while they have it.
Hatsu Hioki is walking into UFC 144 having won his first fight in the UFC.
That may not sound like a great accomplishment, but it is one that has eluded many of his fellow Japanese fighters.
Hioki didn't shock the world with the win (he won a split decision over middle-of-the-pack George Roop), but the judges gave him the nod.
He will be facing a stiffer test against Bart Palaszewski who is known for knocking his opponents out.
If Hioki can get past Palaszewski, he will be 2-0 in the UFC and a potential star for their push into Japan.
The superkick that Anthony Pettis threw against Benson Henderson just may end up defining his career.
It isn't fair, but there are worse things to be known for.
Pettis is a bit unpredictable, and with the UFC going to Japan, it may motivate him to come up with a new move to impress the audience in the arena.
The chances are against it, but if you missed the superkick then you missed out one of the best moments of 2010.
On the off-chance he does something like it, do you want to miss out on it again?
Yoshihiro Akiyama won his debut in the UFC and since then has lost every other fight he has been in.
In Akiyama's case, that is his last three fights.
Normally that would be a death knell for any fighter in the UFC.
Lucky for Akiyama, the UFC needs all the Japanese star power they can get and he is wildly popular in Japan.
He is also an entertaining fighter who has won fight of the night three times in a row.
Many were hoping to see the talented judoka move from 185 pounds to the welterweight limit of 170, where he would match up better. If he doesn't beat his opponent, Jake Shields, then he is done in MMA's top promotion.
He may have a tough test at UFC 144, but if he can pull it off then he will move back up the ladder.
Mark Hunt is an ex-kickboxer. So is Cheick Kongo.
Neither man likes to go to the ground, though both have before.
Considering that Hunt was known for knockouts back in his days in Pride, there is little chance that he is going to surprise the fans by going for a submission.
Even if he did, Kongo's limited ground skills would be enough to deter him.
Both men unleash a large amount of strikes every round, and while Kongo has never been knocked out unlike Hunt, there is a first time for everything.
This fight won't go the distance or disappoint, with the winner almost guaranteed a knockout of the night bonus.
Quinton Jackson loves Japan has made a mention of it.
His love for the country is so strong he petitioned Dana White, the president of the UFC, for the right to appear on the card.
Jackson made his name fighting in Pride and destroying his opponents or getting knocked out while trying.
In recent years, he has lost a little of the fire that made him one of the most dangerous light heavyweights in the world.
Fighting in Japan against Ryan Bader could rekindle that spark that he once had and get his blood pumping again.
Even if it doesn't, he should be amped up for UFC 144 enough for fans to see him return to form.
Frankie Edgar doesn't back down in a fight no matter whom he is facing.
Benson Henderson always comes forward.
Henderson was able to not only fight Clay Guida—he kept up with his pace and won a decision.
Both men have won fight of the night multiple times and both know what it is like to be a champion.
Henderson is driven to be the best, and Edgar is focused on proving that he is the best every time he steps in the cage.
Iron wills are going to collide when they meet, and that translates into one thing.
A great match.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.