Real Combat Media’s UFC 144 Preview
By: MMA Writer Michael Alexander
*Prelims start at 8:00PM ET, PPV starts at 10:00 PM ET*
The UFC makes it’s way back to the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time since UFC 29, as Lightweight Champ Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (14-1-1) takes on number 1 contender, Benson “Smooth” Henderson (15-2). In the Co-Main Event, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-9) hopes to put on a show for the Japanese crowd by taking out rising prospect, Ryan “Darth” Bader (13-2).
Frankie is no stranger to adversity, as he has been considered the underdog in almost all of his fights. While obviously undersized compared to other LWs, Edgar continues to outshine the competition with fantastic boxing, unmatched speed, and an indomitable spirit. Ben Henderson poses many new challenges for Edgar, like can he deal with a more diverse striker and a better jiu-jitsu practioner? But this is what Edgar lives for. He loves coming in as the underdog and shocking the world. He hopes to do that once more on Saturday.
A former champ in the WEC, Ben Henderson has made a seamless transition into the UFC. After dropping a loss to the entertaining Anthony Pettis, Henderson refocused himself and entered the UFC with only one goal: become a champion once again. With a dangerous BJJ game, as well as devastating stand up, Henderson is a tough task for anyone in the LW division.
Main Event Prediction:
After Frankie beat BJ Penn in their rematch, I promised myself that I would never bet against Frankie. But I may have to reconsider, because I see Ben Henderson flying home as the new champ. Frankie is a notoriously slow starter, reminiscent of Mickey Ward. But where Gray Maynard failed to capitalize on that, I believe that Henderson will learn from those mistakes and not give Frankie the chance to recover. This fight will probably go to a decision, with Ben Henderson as the new champ.
This fight means so much to Quinton Jackson, seeing as this is his first time fighting in front of the crowds that made him a superstar when he was fighting in PRIDE. Back in the PRIDE days, Rampage was one of the most popular fighters, known for exciting fights that almost always led to a KO. Now that he is back, there is no doubt that the only thing on his mind is putting on an entertaining fight to remind them of the old Rampage.
Ryan Bader is venturing into unknown waters, as he has never fought in Japan. However, that doesn’t seem to intimidate him. The rising start is looking to restablish himself as one of the top guys in the Light Heavyweight Division, and there is no better way of doing that then to take out one of the best LHW’s to ever fight. After suffering two straight submission losses to Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz, Bader put himself back in the win column with a first round KO over Jason Brilz. He now faces the toughest challenge of his career in Rampage, hoping to fly out of Japan the victor.
Co-Main Event Prediction:
In this fight, the smart money goes to Rampage as he is heavy favored in the betting lines (-250). However, I have a gut feeling that Bader (+210) is gonna pull of a grand upset. Both fighters posses KO power and great boxing, but Bader holds the advantage in the wrestling category. Even though Rampage has fantastic take down defense, he hasn’t fought many wrestlers as good as Bader. In the end, I think that this fight will go the distance, seeing Ryan Bader win by Decision.
Also on the card that nightFormer PRIDE veteran, Mark Hunt, is pitted against French striker, Cheick Kongo, in a fight that is almost guaranteed a KO. Plus, Yoshihiro Akiyama makes his debut in the WW division, as he takes on Jake Shields. Here is the full card:
- Lightweight Championship bout: Frankie Edgar (c) vs. Ben Henderson
- Light Heavyweight bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
- Heavyweight bout: Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo
- Welterweight bout: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields
- Middleweight bout: Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
- Featherweight bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
- Lightweight bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
- Lightweight bout: Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
- Bantamweight bout: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
- Middleweight bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell
- Bantamweight bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
- Featherweight bout: Zhang Tiequan vs. Issei Tamura
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