Full UFC 144 Fight Card for Return to Japan

November 28, 2011
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The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Monday announced the full fight card for UFC Japan: Edgar vs. Henderson (or UFC 144) slated for Feb. 26 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

“Japan is the spiritual home of martial arts – the world has learned from the Japanese many aspects of how to compete in hand-to-hand combat with respect and honor,” said company CEO Lorenzo Fertitta.

“But Japan also has a proud history of modern mixed martial arts and I am excited to bring the Ultimate Fighting Championship back here, and to begin the build-up today to one of the most highly anticipated events of the year — not just for Japanese UFC fans, but for sports fans all over the world.”

UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar defends his belt in the main event against Benson Henderson.

“To mark this historic occasion of UFC’s return to Japan and Zuffa’s first event in Asia, we are bringing a truly stacked card, topped with a world championship title bout,” noted UFC Asia Managing Director Mark Fischer.

“Frankie Edgar is one of the top pound-for-pound and toughest guys in the sport, and Benson Henderson is a former WEC champion who earned his title shot with three consecutive wins including most recently over Clay Guida in one of the best fights of 2011.”

UFC 144 also features the return of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to Japan. Rampage was a staple of the fight scene as part of the Pride Fighting Championships. He will face rising light heavyweight talent Ryan Bader in the co-main event.

The main card is rounded out by a heavyweight bout matching Mark Hunt and Cheick Kongo, Yoshihiro Akiyama in his welterweight debut against Jake Shields, and Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis in a lightweight battle.

UFC 144 preliminary bouts:
-Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
-Takanori Gomi vs. George Sotiropoulos
-Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
-Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
-Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell
-Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
-Leonard Garcia vs. Tiequan Zhang

Tickets for UFC Japan: Edgar vs. Henderson are available via pre-sale channels in Japan on Nov. 28.  General availability begins Dec. 10 in numerous outlets.

UFC Japan: Edgar vs. Henderson will be available live in the United States on pay-per-view at an early start time of 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT due to the time difference with Japan.

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  • RonnieV

    This could arguably be the best fight card ever top to bottom!

    • wonggfan

      Disagree. It has solid lighter weight bouts. But where are the HWs and LHWs?

      Cro Cop’s retirement fight, Nog vs Mir II, and/or Overeem vs Brock should have been on the card to make it a true solid “Japan” card. Overeem is a superstar in Japan and Brock is a superstar everywhere.

      Japanese fans could care less about Edgar vs Bendo. They don’t even know who Bader is. Rampage was popular in Japan but not as popular as Wandy or Shogun, and both are not on the card.

      So the only PRIDE superstar on the card is Rampage….not sure if that is enough to make it a japan event.

  • storgs

    I cannot wait to see if they sell out in japan. I hope the japanese people respond well to this card so that the ufc could do many more shows there in the future.

  • I personally dont think this card is that great.

    Notice how despite it being in Japan, almost every Japanese fighter is on the undercard. Its because they consistently disappoint in the UFC. Japanese MMA needs to get its (stuff) together.

    • wonggfan

      Notice how despite it being in Japan, almost every Japanese fighter is on the undercard.

      Even back in PRIDE days, only few J fighters were maincard material, namely, Saku, Yoshida, and Gomi.

      The most popular fighter in the later PRIDE events was hands down Fedor. Then it was Cro Cop and Wandy. Rampage, Nog, and Barnett were popular but not the most popular.

      Japanese fans don’t necessarily care to see Japanese fighters. This is not like Brazil vs the world for Rio event. Japanese fans cheer for non-Japanese PRIDE fighters as well.

      And the only PRIDE superstar on the card is Rampage. I am not sure if that’s enough.

      Nog vs. Mir II, Overeem vs. Brock, Shogun vs. Hendo II, Jones vs. Machida, or any other LHW or HW PRIDE or “PRIDE-LIKE” bouts should have been added.

      Why not bring Barnett to the UFC and put him on this card?

  • afk

    Yeah, not super impressed by this card on paper either. I watch every event from every promotion that I possibly can regardless, but on paper it’s not as crazy as UFC 139 looked and luckily turned out to be.

    Here’s hoping for a great night of fights in Japan!

  • why isnt okami on the main card???

  • wonggfan

    Unless the UFC turns this into the return of PRIDE, Japanese fans will not bite.

    The tickets might sell this time, but I doubt the UFC could dominate the Japanese market unless they play the PRIDE card.

    Rename the event to UFC: PRIDE or UFC: Return of PRIDE FC. And add some PRIDE HWs and LHWs.