After more than a 10-year absence, the UFC will return to Japan on Saturday, Feb. 25, for UFC 144. The Land of the Rising Sun is a fighter’s dream because of its huge MMA fan base. The fight card will be headlined by UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar defending his belt against former WEC Lightweight Champion Benson “Smooth” Henderson.
Although he has already defeated three title challengers, Edgar will have his hands full with Henderson, who’s been in some of the most exciting fights in MMA history. After action-packed battles with the likes of Clay Guida, Jim Miller and Mark Bocek, Henderson hopes to pull off an upset and walk home as the new UFC welterweight champ.
The other hot fight of the evening will feature Quinton “Rampage” Jackson squaring off against the up-and-coming Ryan Bader, who is starting a new winning streak after losing to two extremely tough competitors in Tito Ortiz and Jon “Bones” Jones. But Bader won’t have an easy time against Jackson, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, Pride FC middleweight champion and one of the most revered MMA fighters in Japan. Too bad for Bader. He will definitely have the crowd against him.
Besides the two main events, the rest of the card stacks up as follows:
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields
Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo
Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka
Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
UFC 144 is sure to generate lots of fireworks. Be sure to tune in Saturday, Feb. 25, at 10 p.m. EST.