UFC 144 Results: Questions Answered and Lessons Learned
The UFC's triumphant return to Japan is over. UFC 144 ended in success and controversy. After a thrilling fight, Benson Henderson edged Frankie Edgar in a questionable decision, and Ryan Bader dominated Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
There were other occurrences throughout the night that answered lingering questions and taught the MMA world important lessons.
What were these questions answered and lessons learned? Read and find out!
The Outlook of Chinese MMA Is Bleak
The UFC has made no bones about how they seek to expand to China, but if they were counting on a homegrown Chinese star to act as a catalyst to that expansion, they'll have to wait a little longer.
Chinese fighter Tiequan Zhang was knocked out cold in the opening bout of the night by the unheralded Issei Tamura. Zhang is now 1-3 in his last four professional fights, and he's 1-2 in the UFC.
Judging Is Still Imperfect
The second fight of the night, a bout between Takeya Mizugaki and Chris Cariaso, showed that MMA judging is still flawed and needs to be altered in some way.
Mizugaki had seemingly beaten Cariaso and appeared to have out-pointed him with takedowns, but the judges saw it differently, giving the unanimous decision to Cariaso.
The main event was also no stranger to judging controversy. The fight between Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar was extremely close, but the nod was given to Henderson, much to the dismay of a significant portion of the MMA community.
With the recent bad decisions being made in MMA, the need for consistent judging criteria is becoming clearer and clearer.
Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto Is Done
Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto was something back in his day, but that day is long gone. Two of the big questions heading into the fight was whether "Kid" was done and if he could re-ignite the success he once had.
Unfortunately, the answer was in the negative.
Yamamoto was rocked by the 11-7 Vaughan Lee, and then submitted by armbar.
He is now 1-5 in his last six and is 0-3 in the UFC overall.
Takanori Gomi Still Has Some Life
Just like with Yorifumi Yamamoto, fans and pundits were questioning how much Takanori Gomi had left.
However, unlike Yamamoto, Gomi managed to show the world that he still has some fire left in him.
After a shaky start, Gomi defeated his opponent, Eiji Mitsuoka, by total knockout in the second round, proving that he still has something to give the MMA world.
Anthony Pettis Is the Real Deal
If anyone was questioning the ability of Anthony Pettis after his loss to Clay Guida, they aren't now.
In a masterful display of timing and striking technique, Pettis delivered a perfectly placed round kick to the chin of Joe Lauzon, sending the Bostonian crashing to the canvas.
After that, he just needed a couple of follow-up punches, and then the fight was stopped. Pettis is the real deal, and is now on a course to the top of the division, possibly with a title shot/rematch with Benson Henderson.
Japanese MMA Isn't Dead
One of the more talked about and endorsed stances after the death of Pride was that Japanese MMA was dead, or at least on life support.
However, Hatsu Hioki showed that there's still hope for Japanese MMA by thoroughly dismantling a skilled competitor in Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski.
Hioki displayed accurate, quick strikes as well as impressive, strong grappling skills. While talk of him beating UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is a bit premature, it's safe to say that Hioki is one of the most skilled fighters in the division, and perhaps the most skilled pound-for-pound Japanese fighters.
Yushin Okami and Tim Boetsch Have Both Made Great Strides
Yushin Okami displayed radically improved striking against Tim Boetsch...until the third round when Boetsch made a dramatic comeback and knocked Okami senseless.
The fight showed that both men have made incredible strides since they first made it to the UFC, which is what martial arts is all about.
Jake Shields Still Needs Improvement, Akiyama Is Much Better at Welterweight
Jake Shields versus Yoshihiro Akiyama was a razor-thin fight.
Akiyama showed that he is a superior fighter at welterweight. He was stronger, faster and better overall. Despite this, he was on the wrong end of a decision.
And even though Shields won the fight, his striking still looked awkward. It still looked like it needed vast improvement.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson Seemed Unmotivated
Did you see the pre-fight video of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the locker room with his face buried in his hands?
That set the tone for his fight against Ryan Bader.
"Rampage" was controlled by Bader for almost the entire duration of the fight. The one shining moment where the old "Rampage" came through was when he picked Bader up and slammed him on his head almost as if it was professional wrestling.
Unfortunately, most of the fight was "Rampage" being taken down and out-grappled by Bader.
"Rampage" would lose a decision and there was no post-fight interview, leaving any lingering questions of retirement unanswered.
Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar Need 5 More Rounds
Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson only showed the MMA world what they already knew, that both men are amazing athletes with unparalleled toughness and conditioning.
Each man fought hard and put on one of the best fights in recent history.
Despite the controversial decision, the fight was simply a masterpiece of MMA.
However, to many fans, it's still unfinished. The two mixed martial artists need five more rounds to truly settle who is the UFC lightweight champion.
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