UFC 144 had it all––shocking upsets, dramatic comebacks, highlight-reel finishes and an early "Fight of the Year" candidate.
On Saturday night, the UFC treated Pride's former stomping grounds at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan to a show that could eclipse every other event lined up this year.
UFC 144 represents a moment of triumph for UFC President Dana White and Zuffa owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta.
It wasn't too long ago that Pride Fighting Championships was considered the pinnacle of MMA. Who could ever forget the UFC's feeble attempt to buck the Japanese juggernaut with UFC 25: Ultimate Japan, an event that receiver rather abysmal numbers?
Seven years after UFC 25, White and the Fertittas announced the UFC's purchase of Pride.
UFC 144 represented the first UFC event in Japan in more than a decade. There weren't any elaborate entrances, screaming ladies or falling confetti. It was just the UFC. After all of the struggles and sacrifices that White and the Fertitta endured, the UFC stood its ground in Japan as the modern-day pinnacle of MMA.
As we credit the UFC president and owners for a successful organization, we have to credit the fighters for a successful event. With a seven-fight main card, the UFC delivered an intriguing event that captivated fans all around the world.
The lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson is already being dubbed as an early "Fight of the Year" candidate. Ryan Bader shocked the world in a lopsided unanimous decision victory over former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
Former Pride superstar Mark Hunt's jarring knockout win over Cheick Kongo brought back a sense of nostalgia from his early days in Japan. Yoshihiro Akiyama put forth one of the best performances of his UFC career, despite losing a unanimous decision to Jake Shields.
After getting picked apart for two rounds, Tim Boetsch stormed back in the third and finished former title contender Yushin Okami in stunning fashion. Hatsu Hioki likely locked up a future featherweight title shot with an exciting display of striking and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in his decision win over Bart Palaszewski.
Anthony "Showtime" Pettis did what he did best against Joe Lauzon. He knocked out the Massachusetts native in the first round with one of his patented kicks.
UFC 144 will likely be the talk of the town until the promotion returns to The Land of the Rising Sun. If there are any more events where this one came from, 2012 could go down as one of the most memorable years in the history of the sport.
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