UFC 144 Fight Card Primer: Riki Fukuda Vs. Steve Cantwell

Riki Fukuda and Steve Cantwell square off at the UFC 144 weigh-ins on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In a prelim fight as part of UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson, Japan's Riki Fukuda (17-5; 0-1 UFC) faces Steve Cantwell (7-5; 1-4 UFC). This fight is in the Middleweight division and is the second of four fights on the prelims live on FX. Prelims begin this Saturday, February 25 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, with the PPV card beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. Neither Fukuda nor Cantwell are currently ranked in the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings.

As is the theme with much of this card, this fight fits into the mold of Japanese fighter vs. foreigner. That's a set-up that has long been of interest to Japanese fans, and UFC 144 will look to capitalize on it. One thing that makes this fight a bit different is that Fukuda is not a big name in Japan, as he never reached the level of most of his Japanese counterparts on the rest of the show. It will be interesting to see what kind of response he gets from the crowd.

How do these two stack up?

Fukuda: 31 years old | 6'0" | 73" reach
Cantwell: 25 years old | 6'2" | 75" reach

What have these two done recently?

Fukuda: L - Nick Ring (UD) | W - Ryuta Sakurai (TKO) | W - Hiromitsu Kanehara (Dec)
Cantwell: L - Mike Massenzio (UD) | L - Cyrille Diabate (UD) | L - Brian Stann (UD)

How did these two get here?

Riki Fukuda is a veteran of the Japanese independent scene, where he competed for organizations such as DEEP, Shooto, and Pancrase. His biggest win came at Dream.8 when he stepped in as a late replacement and defeated Ninja Rua. He signed with the UFC and met Nick Ring at UFC 127. Fukuda controlled the fight, but lost a very controversial decision. Most people, including Dana White, still consider that bout a win for Fukuda. He's been on the shelf since that fight, partly due to injury. Fukuda looked good against Ring and, despite the loss, seemed ready for a promising UFC career - can he get back on track after a year away?

Cantwell is a WEC veteran and was the last ever WEC Light Heavyweight champion, having won the belt from Brian Stann in 2008. When Zuffa closed that division, Cantwell was brought into the UFC. With his 6-1 record and his belt, he was an exciting prospect. He won his UFC debut, but has really struggled ever since. Cantwell has lost his last 4 fights, all via decision. Last time out, he dropped down to Middleweight, and this will be his second fight at 185. I'm tempted to say he's fighting for his job here - surely he can't drop 5 straight and stay in the UFC, right? But I said that last time too. Still, he clearly needs a win, and badly.

Why should you care?

Despite his losing streak, Cantwell is an entertaining fighter as he uses nice striking to engage his opponents. There also remain high hopes for Fukuda's future in the division. I expect this one won't be the best fight of the night, but it will be a solid affair.

For a more in-depth look at Fukuda vs. Cantwell, be sure to read Dallas Winston's always excellent Dissection.

More UFC 144 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.

SBN coverage of UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson

UFC 144 Judo Chop: The Striking Defense of Mark Hunt - Fraser Coffeen

UFC 144: Rampage Jackson Misses Weight By Five Pounds, Loses 20% Of Purse While Fight Goes On - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144 Weigh-In Video And Coverage - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Anthony Pettis Vs. Joe Lauzon Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144: The Bloody Elbow Judo Chops Of Frankie Edgar Vs. Ben Henderson - Fraser Coffeen

UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Staff Predictions - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Jake Shields Wants UFC To Make Sure Yoshihiro Akiyama Doesn't Cheat - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: Yushin Okami Vs. Tim Boetsch Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Video: Dana White Video Blog Episode 2 - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Rampage Jackson On The Streets Of Tokyo - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Dana White Wants You To Know The UFC Didn't Kill PRIDE - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: The Epic Drama Of Yoshihiro Akiyama - Fraser Coffeen

UFC 144: Is Frankie Edgar Being Underrated Against Ben Henderson? - Fraser Coffeen

UFC 144: Hatsu Hioki Vs. Bart Palaszewski Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Roundtable: Can The UFC Succeed In Japan? - Tim Burke

UFC 144 Predictions: Pros Slightly Favor Frankie Edgar To Beat Ben Henderson - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: Takanori Gomi Vs. Eiji Mitsuoka Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Judo Chop: Benson Henderson And The Miracle of Survival Part 2 of 2 - Ben Thapa

UFC 144 Video: Under PRIDE Rules, Rampage Jackson Dominates Fight Against Ryan Bader - Anton Tabuena

UFC 144 Video: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson Fight Simulation And Prediction - Anton Tabuena

UFC 144 Pre-Fight Press Conference Video - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Yoshihiro Akiyama Leads The UFC Back To Japan - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Should The Winner Of Joe Lauzon Vs. Anthony Pettis Get The Next Title Shot? - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto Vs. Vaughan Lee Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144: Riki Fukuda Vs. Steve Cantwell Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Judo Chop: Benson Henderson And The Miracle Of Survival Part 1 of 2 - Ben Thapa

UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Countdown Show Full Video - Anton Tabuena

UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Betting Lines - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Rampage Jackson Is A Death Sentence For Ryan Bader According To Michael Bisping - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144 Manga-Style Promo Video - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Takeya Mizugaki Vs. Chris Cariaso Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144: Tiequan Zhang Vs. Issei Tamura Dissection - Dallas Winston

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