In this Weekend in Fights (February 25th) the UFC traveled to the land of the rising sun for the first time while under Zuffa regime. The card featured a seven bout main card, including the Lightweight championship bout at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on Saturday night. On Friday night Cage Warriors held their 46th event in the Ukraine, and Legacy Fighting Championship held their 10th event in Houston, Texas.
MMAjunkie.com continued their sponsored series of Cage Warriors for the second consecutive event in the last two weeks with Cage Warriors 46: Kraniotakes vs. Peberezhets at the Stereo Plaza, in Kiev, Ukraine. The main event was a Heavyweight bout between Andreas Kraniotakes and Dmitry Poberezhets, which ended in quick fashion with Kraniotakes submitting Poberezhets in the first round with a rear naked choke. Pavel Kusch did the impossible when he submitted Alexander Starikov in 30 seconds to the virtually impossible to land omoplata. (Full Cage Warriors 46: Kraniotakes vs. Peberezhets event results below.)
On Friday night, Legacy Fighting Championship held their 10th event at the Arena Theater in Houtson, Texas. Broadcast on HDNet, the event included UFC veterans Pat Audinwood and Gerald Harris, as well as the siblings of UFC fighters, Anthony Njokuani’s brother Chidi, and Chase Beebe’s brother Carson all picking up wins. (Full Legacy Fighting Championship 10 event results below.)
In the main event of UFC 144, Frankie Edgar put his championship on the line against former WEC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson in a five round war. After winning the first round, it appeared to go down hill for Edgar after a perfect up kick from Henderson, busting up his nose, impairing his vision causing him to bleed for the remainder of the bout. Even with this Edgar continued to battle it out for the next three rounds, that many saw going either way. Henderson stalked Edgar for the remainder of the bout connecting with lots of combinations, but Edgar still out stuck him in volume. In the fifth round Edgar dropped Henderson with a punch and appeared to have turned things around, and was on his way to retaining the championship. However, the judges saw things for Henderson and declared him he winner and new UFC Lightweight champion.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson made his return to Japan in almost 6 years to the date in his final Pride bout on February 26th 2006 at Pride 31. To tribute the glory days of his career Rampage can out the the Pride theme song, but his return was not a glorious one. Standing in Jackson’s way was strong wrestler Ryan Bader, who wanted nothing more than to spoil the return of Jackson on his way to climb up the ranks in the Light Heavyweight division. Jackson was able to land one of his signature slams from his Pride days on Bader, but due to injury prior to the bout, Jackson was unable to get off his back once taken down. Bader controlled the last to round with unimpressive lay and prey tactics, but was active enough to not have the referee stand them up. Bader took home the unanimous decision victory.
Mark Hunt also made his return to Japan in Heavyweight action against Cheick Kongo in impressive fashion, knocking out Kongo with ease in the first round.
Jake Shields snapped his two fight losing skid, with a decision over the Welterweight debut of Yoshihiro Akiyama. Akiyama looked impressive with his take down defense and stellar Judo techniques, but in was Shields octagon control and number of landed strikes that won him the bout.
Tim Boetsch made the comeback of the event with a third round TKO over Yushin Okami. Okami destroyed Boetsch for the first two rounds, and was on his way to picking up a decisive decision victory, but a fire was lit under Boetsch and he went for broke, by attacking Okami with a series of strikes to pick up his most notable victory to date and looks great since dropping to Middleweight.
Excluding the Mark Hunt and Tim Boetsch knockout victories, the night was filled with great knockouts including Anthony Pettis’ 81 second head kick to Joe Lauzon, Takanori Gomi’s one punch power over Eiji Mitsuoka and the upset of debuting Issei Tamura over Tiequan Zhang. (Full UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson event results below.)
Friday Night Fights-
MMAjunkie.com main card:
Andreas Kraniotakes def. Dmitry Poberezhets via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:27
Diego Gonzalez def. Ivica Truscek via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 3:25
Pavel Kusch def. Alexander Starikov via submission (omoplata) – Round 1, 0:30
Phil Harris (19-9) def. Remi Morvan (8-6) via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:22
Alexander Voitenko def. Dan Hope via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 1:11
Artemij Sitenkov def. Neil Seery via submission (kneebar) – Round 1, 0:55
Vladimir Katyhin def. Anatoly Safronov via submission (rear-naked choke) -Round 2, 0:41
Sergei Churilov def. Anatoly Starodubtsev via submission (Achilles lock) – Round 1, 2:51
James Brum def. Leandro Gontijo via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)
Pat Audinwood def. Justin Reiswerg via submission (armbar) – Round 3, 3:33
Gerald Harris def. Eric Davila via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Chidi Njokuani def. Jonathan Harris (strikes) – Round 1, 1:54
Carson Beebe def. Tim Snyder via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Reynaldo Trujillo def. Munil Adriano via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 0:24
Alex Morono def. Rashon Lewis via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:02
Saturday Night Fights-
Benson Henderson def. Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46) – becomes new lightweight champion
Ryan Bader def. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Mark Hunt def. Cheick Kongo via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 2:11
Jake Shields def. Yoshihiro Akiyama via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tim Boetsch def. Yushin Okami via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 0:54
Hatsu Hioki def. Bart Palaszewski via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Anthony Pettis def. Joe Lauzon via knockout (kick and punches) – Round 1, 1:21
Takanori Gomi def. Eiji Mitsuoka via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:21
Vaughan Lee def. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:29
Riki Fukuda def. Steve Cantwell via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Chris Cariaso def. Takeya Mizugaki via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Issei Tamura def. Tiequan Zhang via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 0:32