This was an excellent card as the UFC returned to Japan for the first time in over a decade. The night was full of upsets and knockouts, and the Lightweight Championship changed hands in controversial fashion. We also may have the makings of a highly anticipated rematch between Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson depending on how the next couple of months play out. Nonetheless, if you weren’t able to watch live, do yourself a favor and order the replay. Here’s my recap:
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis defeated Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon via Knockout (Head Kick + Punches) at 1:21 of Round 1
In a knockout of the night performance that didn’t make it past two minutes, Anthony Pettis showed his true self in his victory over Joe Lauzon. Pettis looked the best he has looked since entering the UFC with his technique and his footwork. After fighting two excellent wrestlers, Pettis finally got the result he has been looking for. He came in early and faked a leg kick, he went to the head as Lauzon looked to block and caught Lauzon right across the chin. He followed it up with punches and walked away with a “Knockout of the Night” bonus and an impressive overall victory.
Next up for Anthony Pettis: Most likely Benson Henderson for the title
Next up for Joe Lauzon: A rematch with Melvin Guillard
Hatsu Hioki defeated Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Hioki looked good, but hopefully the UFC will not jump the gun and give him an immediate title shot. He did not look overly impressive against George Roop in his first fight, though his grappling was on point against Palaszewski. There were several scrambles that were dominated by Hioki. He controlled from the top well and was looking for submissions. To Palaszewski’s credit, he escaped an armbar attempt in the first round and looked good in the second round. Unfortunately for him, Hioki got the takedown in the final round and displayed his grappling superiority. Hioki improved a lot from his last outing and remains undefeated in the UFC.
I scored all three rounds in favor of Hioki for a 30-26 victory.
Next up for Hatsu Hioki: Jimmy Hettes or Charles Oliveira
Next up for Bart Palaszewski: Leonard Garcia
Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch defeated Yushin “Thunder” Okami via TKO (Punches) at 0:54 of Round 3
If there was a “Comeback of the Night” award, it would without a doubt go straight to Tim Boetsch after what he did to Okami. Okami came out early and looked better than ever. He was jabbing from a distance and was getting the necessary takedowns to convincingly win himself the rounds. He thoroughly dominated Boetsch on the ground. Okami kept the fight at a good range to avoid the power of Tim Boetsch. Out of no where, Boetsch rallies back just over 50 seconds into the third round and puts a hurting on Okami. He gets Okami against the cage and lands powerful shots. Boetsch put Okami away and escaped a certain decision loss.
Jake Shields defeated “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akyiama via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
This was a weird fight right off the bat. Going into the fight I had a sneaking suspicion that Shields would have a lot of trouble trying to take Akiyama down. He did, Akiyama utilized a wide-base and his judo to shake Shields off when he shot in. However Akiyama was not active in this fight. He was not landing shots on the feet and was not striking off of the scrambles. Shields was peppering Akiyama from a distance whilst still working for takedowns. Akiyama grabbed the fence twice at the end of the third round while Shields was working to pull Akiyama from back control. Shields ultimately won the decision and it is hard to question the result.
First round to Akiyama and the final two rounds to Shields, 29-28 Shields.
Next up for Jake Shields: Josh Neer or Mike Pyle
Next up for Yoshihiro Akiyama: Most likely he gets cut
Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt defeated Cheick Kongo via TKO (Punches) at 2:11 of Round 1
As I stated in my preview, I knew that there were only two conceivable ways that this fight could end. Those being either a decision for Kongo or a knockout for Hunt. I was right in that regard as Kongo adapted his Pat Barry game plan, unfortunately he made no such comeback. Kongo refused to take the fight down and was initially dropped about a minute into the fight.
Afterwards, Hunt rushed in against the fence and landed a couple of big shots on Kongo that sent him running. Eventually Hunt put Kongo away with a solid combination. I couldn’t believe Kongo made no attempt to grapple with Hunt. What is more surprising is how successful Hunt has been since his loss to Sean McCorkle.
Next up for Mark Hunt: Hopefully Pat Barry or possibly Mike Russow
Next up for Cheick Kongo: Dave Herman
CO-MAIN EVENT: Ryan “Darth” Bader defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Riddled with a bad knee and some explanations as to why he both didn’t perform well and couldn’t make weight, Rampage got outworked. After not making weight, I questioned Rampage’s motivation towards the sport. He stated in a post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani that he refused to pull out of the fight despite his knee injury.
Whether it was an injury or not, Rampage was dominated in this fight. Bader looked much better with his combos on the feet and was able to execute several takedowns on Rampage. Rampage had a nice slam, but it wasn’t enough to get the win. Bader exhibited excellent ground control and dominated Rampage to win a unanimous decision. Rampage stated in the same post-fight interview with Helwani that he is still hungry and wants to continue fighting.
Next up for Ryan Bader: Phil Davis
Next up for Rampage Jackson: Possibly “Shogun” Rua
MAIN EVENT: Benson “Smooth” Henderson defeated Frankie “The Answer” Edgar via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46) and became the NEW UFC Lightweight Champion
Controversy was a term that immediately entered my head before this fight had even started. I was fairly confident that no matter what, this fight would go to a decision. I knew that this would cause controversy because it’s impossible to have a main event without it being surrounded by controversy. I scored the fight in favor of Frankie Edgar. I will go in depth on this in a separate article because there is too much to discuss.
Frankie looked good early, he picked his shots and utilized his spectacular footwork and head movement. He was landing combos and moving whilst Henderson established dominance in the center of the octagon. Henderson was landing shots in his own right, and he was bloodying Edgar’s as the fight progressed. He also landed a beautiful upkick at the end of the second round that badly hurt Edgar. Though Frankie was constantly catching Henderson’s attempts at kicking and looking to counter.
Henderson’s jab looked great, he was also tagging Frankie with knees from the clinch. Edgar had the edge in takedowns and one particular takedown showed him actually landing some ground and pound on Henderson. Henderson caught Edgar in a guillotine in the fourth round and that arguably earned him the edge on the scorecards for that round. It was tight guillotine and Edgar struggled to find his way out. At this point Edgar’s face is aesthetically beaten up, but there is never a sense of self consciousness out of him in the fight.
Edgar came back in the final round and appeared to have dropped Henderson with a straight left. Henderson looks to shake it off and ends up getting taken down towards the end of the fight. This fight is as hard to score as any fight in the past. Both men stayed active and respectively had their moments in the fight. Henderson ends up with the decision and goes home as the new UFC Lightweight Champion. This fight also earned the “Fight of the Night” bonus.
Round 1: Edgar 10-9
Round 2: Edgar 10-9
Round 3: Henderson 10-9
Round 4: Edgar 10-9
Round 5: Edgar 10-9
Next up for Benson Henderson: Most likely Anthony Pettis
Next up for Frankie Edgar: Either a rematch, Jose Aldo or maybe Diego Sanchez
Undercard Results -
Takanori Gomi defeated Eiji Mitsuoka via TKO (Punches) at 2:21 of Round 2
Next up for Takanori Gomi: Rafael dos Anjos
Next up for Eiji Mitsuoka: Anton Kuivanen
Vaughan Lee defeated Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto via Submission (Armbar) at 4:29 of Round 1
Next up for Vaughan Lee: Alex Caceres
Next up for Kid Yamamoto: Cut
Riki Fukuda defeated Steve “The Robot” Cantwell via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Next up for Riki Fukuda: Rafael Natal
Next up for Steve Cantwell: Cut
Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso defeated Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Next up for Chris Cariaso: Jeff Curran
Next up for Takeya Mizugaki: Ken Stone
Issei Tamura defeated Zhang Tiequan via KO (Punch) at 0:32 of Round 2
Next up for Issei Tamura: Felipe Arantes
Next up for Zhang Tiequan: Cut
Thanks for reading my recap, I hope you all enjoyed it. I will be doing a couple of other articles regarding this event as well. Follow me on Twitter @CRUMxMMA to discuss this and other events with me.
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