UFC 144: Predicting the Fight Night Bonuses
The UFC returns to Japan for the first time in over 10 years later this week, and the seven fight pay-per-view card is set to be headlined by UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar defending his title against former WEC champion Benson Henderson.
Edgar has spent the last two years fighting in rematches and rubber-matches while Henderson has gone 3-0 since debuting in the UFC in 2011. Henderson's wins include those over Clay Guida, Jim Miller and Mark Bocek.
These are my predictions for the fight night bonuses.
Fight of the Night: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson
What promises to be the fight of the night could meet or even exceed fans' expectations. After his two exciting performances against Gray Maynard, Edgar (14-1-1) has made a claim to being one of the more entertaining fighters not only in the division but in the entire sport.
UFC president Dana White called Edgar the Arturo Gatti of MMA for his come-from-behind victory after defeating Maynard at UFC 136, and that may be present in this fight as well, as Henderson (15-2) is one of the more physically imposing, conditioned and aggressive fighters he has faced in quite some time.
Neither guy is easy to finish so this fight has a good guarantee of going the full five rounds. With both having the conditioning to fight the fifth as they did the first, don't expect to see a slow pace in this one. There should be more than enough action to warrant the fight of the night bonus.
Fight of the Night?
Knockout of the Night: Quinton Jackson
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (32-9) is as motivated as he has been in a long time going into his fight with Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader (13-4), and with that being added onto him coming off a defeat to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, this should be a fight he wants to win and do so in impressive fashion.
Bader, a former NCAA Division I wrestler, just rebounded from two back-to-back losses to defeat Jason Brilz by KO in the first round at UFC 139. He holds six knockout wins while Jackson holds 14.
Much has been said about the motivation of Rampage, and his record shows it. He hasn't claimed a knockout victory since defeating Wanderlei Silva in 2008. Four of his next five fights all went the distance.
With this fight being in front of Jackson's favorite type of crowd, he has the chance to utilize his advantage in technique and power to catch Bader and put him away late in the fight.
Submission of the Night: Anthony Pettis
Lightweights Anthony Pettis (14-2) and Joe Lauzon (21-6) both want a chance at the title, and they will have to go through each other before they get that chance in the pay-per-view opener.
With 21 wins under his belt, Lauzon hasn't won by anything other than knockout or submission. Pettis, the former WEC lightweight champion, has three decision wins, six submissions and five knockouts.
Lauzon will come out fast like usual, but that has never favored him late in fights where his opponent survives and still has the cardio to attack with submissions and strikes. All but one of Lauzon's losses have come in the second round or later.
Pettis has an underrated ground game and is very solid on the feet so he should be able to mix it up better for however long this fight lasts. Once the fight hits the later rounds, he will be able to take advantage of a tired Lauzon and get the submission win after dropping him with strikes.
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