UFC 144 JAPAN card officially announced

The Ultimate Fighting Championship® announced the full title card today of the organization’s return to the birthplace of mixed martial arts. UFC® JAPAN: EDGAR vs. HENDERSON features an epic lightweight title fight pitting champion Frankie Edgar against former WEC Champion Benson Henderson, a matchup first announced after Henderson’s win over Clay Guida at UFC on FOX.

UFC Japan – or UFC 144 – will also feature the return to Land of the Rising Sun of  Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, one of the biggest stars in the sport, in a bout which will mark the 6th anniversary to the day of his last fight in Japan. Jackson faces rising star Ryan Bader, whose most recent win came just two weeks ago at UFC 139 in San Jose.

Other key matchups feature Mark Hunt, a veteran of Japanese kickboxing, versus French heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo; and Japanese superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama dropping weight divisions to meet the always dangerous Jake Shields in the welterweight division.  Rounding out the main card will be a lightweight bout pitting the underrated Joe Lauzon, coming off a stunning 67-second submission over Melvin Guillard, against former WEC champion Anthony Pettis.

Other bouts on that card feature Japan’s biggest MMA stars. Riki Fukuda will fight in a middleweight match against Steve “The Robot: Cantwell. “Kid” Yamamoto will go to battle against British bantamweight Vaughan Lee, fighting for the first time in almost two years in his home country.

Perennial top-10 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki will square off against Chris Cariaso. And lightweight knockout artist Takanori Gomi will meet submission expert George Sotiropoulos.

Japan’s most promising title contender, Hatsu Hioki, will face Bart Palaszewski in a featherweight showdown. Hioki made his UFC debut by beating tough veteran, George Roop, while Palaszewski had a spectacular debut at his new weight with a big KO win over Tyson Griffin.”

Plus, China’s Tiequan Zhang and the always-game Leonard Garcia have agreed to meet inside the Octagon on that date.

All of the bouts mentioned are verbally agreed upon and subject to change.

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