UFC 144 Results: Ranking the 5 Best Moments from Return to Japan
The UFC finally came back to the land of the rising sun, and as the show for UFC 144 closed in Japan, memorable moments were born.
Some of them were the kind that could be seen anywhere while others held a special place because of the setting and importance of the event.
Fighting is about telling a story as much as it is about the men who step into the cage. The return of the UFC to Japan proves that much.
The fights are what the fans come to see, but the stories that unfold are what ends up being remembered in the end. While UFC 144 had a great night of fights, five moments stand out and above the rest.
Issei Tamura Beats Zhang Tiequan
This moment might not have meant much to American fans, but it was a perfect ending for Japanese fans.
China and Japan have always had friction and the UFC was smart enough to use it to their advantage. Matching a Chinese fighter and a Japanese fighter was a brilliant move.
It got even better when said Japanese fighter won and because he was on the first part of the card, it got the crowd in the arena amped up and ready for the rest of the night.
Mark Hunt's Continues the Winning Streak
Mark Hunt wasn't even supposed to get a run in the UFC let alone win three fights in a row. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, Dana White reiterated the statement that while the UFC owed Hunt fights, they would have paid him to just go away.
Hunt ignored the offer and stepped into the cage losing his first fight quickly.
He then won his next three fights and earned a new contract. Where this Cinderella story ends up is still undecided, but it has been great watching it unfold.
Hatsu Hioki Steps Up to the Plate
Hatsu Hioki was not only able to give Bart Palaszewski a tough fight, but win as well. Hioki went from struggling with George Roop to beating a decent featherweight in his opponent and moves up the ladder as well.
The UFC has imported a lot of top stars recently, but many of them such as Kid Yamamoto and Takanori Gomi have fizzled out. Hioki has succeeded where they have failed and opens the door to being a top talent for the company.
While the UFC is able to market its fighters well enough to garner fans everywhere, there is something to be said for nationalism.
Where the UFC puts Hioki after this fight will tell fans what the company wants to do with him.
Quinton Jackson Returns to Japan
No matter how the fight turned out, there had to be a little bit of a nostalgic joy from Pride fans as they watched Quinton Jackson walk to the cage on Saturday.
Jackson, who had built his following for the exciting matches he put on in Japan, was able to return and fight there once again. The bout wasn't a return to form or anything that would make long-time fans rejoice, but the walkout was.
If this was Jackson's last hurrah, it was a great way to go out and if not, it might be one of the last highlights of his career.
Ben Henderson Shows That He Is No Joke
Dana White may believe that Frankie Edgar won the fight at UFC 144, but the judges disagreed.
It was a close fight, but Henderson was able to pull it out with his superior work rate. He was able to bloody Edgar's nose and and take the fight to him.
The fight was spectacular and a rematch isn't out of the question because of how subjective the scoring was.
If the two men do meet again in an immediate rematch it will be worth paying for just to see if Henderson can do it again.