One thing was for sure after the events of UFC 144 and that was that four hours of action is definitely better than three hours. After the four hour long pay-per-view, we had a new UFC Lightweight Champion, a top contender to the UFC featherweight Title and a heavyweight contender. Although this pay-per-view will go down as one of the best the UFC has put forth in 2012, it sets the stage for many returns to Japan.
Round One: A “Smooth” Champion
Despite the controversial judge’s decision, former WEC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson is now the new UFC Lightweight Champion. After twenty five minutes of stellar action, Ben Henderson simply did more damage to Frankie Edgar, despite being out struck by the former champion. Frankie Edgar was not the only person seemingly disappointed in the outcome, as UFC President Dana White said that he thought Frankie Edgar won as well. Ben Henderson, as the UFC Lightweight Champion, now has a lot of fresh battles ahead of his as the champion.
Next Round For Ben Henderson: Anthony Pettis or the Nate Diaz/Jim Miller winner
Next Round For Frankie Edgar: Joe Lauzon, Clay Guida or Donald Cerrone
Round Two: “Rampage” Was Rampaged
There may have been no fighter looking forward to competing in Japan more than Quinton Jackson, who was once the country’s biggest star in PRIDE. However, the dream became a nightmare rather quickly as Ryan Bader practically dominated Quinton Jackson from bell to bell. There was one bright spot for “Rampage” in the end though as he slammed Ryan Bader in the second round, reminiscent of his days in PRIDE. After it was all said and done though, one fighter found himself closer to a title shot was another faded into obscurity.
Next Round For Ryan Bader: Lyoto Machida, Phil Davis or Rich Franklin
Next Round For Quinton Jackson: Mauricio Rua or the Rashad Evans/Jon Jones loser
Round Three: The Comeback Of Mark Hunt
When Mark Hunt was submitted by Sean McCorkle two years ago in his UFC debut, most people thought the PRIDE veteran had nothing left in the tank. Three victories have followed since that fateful day and Mark Hunt is establishing himself as a heavyweight title contender. In a rapidly declining UFC Heavyweight Division, Mark Hunt could be a few fights away from a potential title shot. While knocking out Cheick Kongo definitely moves Mark Hunt up the rankings, a win over a bigger name contender will be the next step in his career resurrection.
Next Round For Mark Hunt: Pat Barry/Lavar Johnson winner or Antonio Silva
Next Round For Cheick Kongo: Travis Browne, Rob Broughton or Christian Morecraft
Round Four: The Comeback Barbarian
Even as little as two years ago, very few people thought of Tim Boetsch as a possible contender for the UFC Middleweight Title. However, after a thrilling comeback victory over Yushin Okami at UFC 144, the “Barbarian” Is closer than ever before to a title shot. Yushin Okami on the other hand, has now suffered two straight defeats and is another loss away from a potential release from the UFC. The real question is, can Tim Boetsch continue to put together the victories or is the “Barbarian” running out of comebacks?
Next Round For Tim Boetsch: The Court McGee/Coastantinos Phillipou winner or the Brian Stann/Alessio Sakara loser
Next Round For Yushin Okami: Jared Hamman, Eric Schafer or Mike Massenzio
Round Five: There’s A First Time For Everything
While Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto has lost in the past, it was the way he suffered a defeat to Vaughan Lee at UFC 144 that will go down in history. For the first time in his professional MMA career, Kid Yamamoto was submitted, by an arm bar from Vaughan Lee. This is a benchmark victory for Vaughan Lee, who was defeated in his UFC debut several months back at UFC 138. At one point in time, Kid Yamamoto was the top of the Japanese MMA mountain, but it looks like that time has passed.
Next Round For Vaughan Lee: Miguel Torres, Nick Pace or Ivan Menjivar
Next Round For Kid Yamamoto: A UFC release
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