UFC 144 was absolutely insane. It was the kind of pay per view where there is absolutely zero buyer's remorse and one that entertained on every level, including the existential one. It was the UFC's return to Japan, the former home to MMA. Though the fight culture in the Land of the Rising has changed since the days when PRIDE ruled, there is still a section of the population that remains passionate about the sport. As with every major event there are winners and losers and tonight was no different. So without further ado I give you the biggest winners and losers of UFC 144. Oh and other thoughts.
Ben Henderson: Ben Henderson was not supposed to receive a shot at the UFC lightweight title when the WEC was folded into the UFC. He lost that opportunity to Anthony Pettis at WEC 53. However, in a year and a half, Henderson has proven himself to be an elite lightweight. He now holds the UFC lightweight title and looked great in doing so. He is literally the biggest winner of UFC 144 and arguably 2012.
Ryan Bader: Losing to Tito Ortiz had to have been a sobering experience for the former Ultimate Fighter winner. He made the adjustments in his game and preparation and looked great against a tough fighter in Rampage. He also showed that conditioning and cardio weren't an issue as he pushed the pace for 15 minutes. It's unlikely that he'll be a champion but he showcased skills that make it hard to argue his spot in the top 10.
Tim Boetsch: What a comeback. I know that Joe Rogan got caught up in the moment but that was definitely in the top comebacks ever in any sport. The fight was all but decided only for Boetsch to land ridiculous uppercuts to knock Okami out. Middleweight is wide open after that fight.
Anthony Pettis: Massive head kick aside, there's a rumor that Dana is gonna make Ben Henderson vs Anthony Pettis 2 for the lightweight belt. WEC NEVER DIE! right guys?
Japanese fans: There were concerns that MMA was dead and that the UFC would have an unsuccessful empty house when it was ready to go live. Instead there were over 17,000 people there and they were rewarded with a great card. It seems that MMA is still alive in Japan. It's just the fight promotions which are dead.
Losers and other thoughts after the jump....
Quinton Jackson: What the heck was that? I don't care about the injury that he suffered prior to the fight. Rampage looked old and slow. The only other person I remember dominating him with wrestling was Rashad Evans. Not only did he look slow, he also looks to have regressed as a fighter. I don't know what the future holds but his best days are definitely behind him.
Cheick Kongo: Another winning streak ended with devastating loss. Can someone explain to my why Kongo took Heath Herring down yet decided to stand and trade with former K-1 champion Mark Hunt? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Yushin Okami: The thing about comeback wins is that there's always a loser and at UFC 144 that was Yushin Okami. Prior to the third round, he was looking dominant on his feet and on the ground. Unfortunately that all changed when he got uppercutted to death against the fence. Huge loser on the night for this reason.
Joe Lauzon: The Melvin Guillard win put Lauzon on track for a lightweight title shot. Last night was a completely different performance as Lauzon was unable to create offense and suffered a TKO because of it. This is a case of a fighter hitting his ceiling.
Norifumi Yamamoto: The hell happened to this guy? This was supposed to be a "gimme" fight for him and he still lost. This is the same Kid Yamamoto who survived Royler Gracie without submitting. I said last night on twitter that it was a prime example of a fighter head hunting when he should attack the body. He had Lee on the ropes and instead of changing his combinations up, he threw hooks to the head. I doubt he's brought back and even if he is, who do you match him up with? One of the TUF guys?
- If we're being honest with each other, there's no way I'd put Frankie Edgar in the "losers" column. There is a legitimate argument for the scores going to him. He also showed grit and toughness that is rare even for a sport where people punch each other in the face. Dana wants him at 145. I want a rematch because HOLY CRAP THAT WAS FUN TO WATCH!
- Speaking of Frankie Edgar, I'm starting to get concerned that his toughness may be a liability as he gets older. Taking that kind of punishment isn't good for the brain and this wasn't the first fight where he's taken a lot of damage. I'm hoping that he's okay because our entertainment isn't worth his ability to remember his wife's name when he gets older.
- Hatsu Hioki got away from his grappling in the second round which allowed Bart Palaszewski to remain in the fight. Besides that mental slip up, this was as great of a performance out of Hioki as we've seen in any organization. His boxing looked greatly improved and the transitions between submissions in the first round were beautiful. He won't beat Jose Aldo but he'll be a tough test for anyone at 145.
- Is the Tiequan Zhang experiment over? I hope so. That man has no business fighting in the UFC.
- Sure Takanori Gomi won with a knockout but let's refrain from saying he's back. He looked horrendous in the first round. If that means he's back I don't know if he was ever great.
- I honestly can't pick out a highlight of the night because it was such a great card. This is a case of everything coming together perfectly with every fight keeping me on the edge of my seat. I can't remember another card that did that and I hope that you didn't choose to skip this pay per view. If you did you are an idiot.
More UFC 144 coverage here at Bloody Elbow:
- UFC 144 Results: Frankie Edgar Doesn't 'Need' To Drop To Featherweight - Brent Brookhouse
- UFC 144 Results: Ben Henderson And Anthony Pettis Ready For Rematch - Nate Wilcox
- UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Results And Post-Fight Analysis - Brent Brookhouse
- UFC 144 Results: Dana White Says Anthony Pettis Will 'Likely' Get Next UFC Lightweight Title Shot - Bloody Elbow
- UFC 144 Post-Fight Press Conference Video
- UFC Japan Video: Georges St. Pierre Gets Attacked By A Mob Of Kids With Samurai Foam Swords - Bloody Elbow
- Bad Boy Presents Bloody Elbow Radio - Episode 139: UFC 144 Results Review
- UFC 144 Results: Ryan Bader Dominates Rampage Jackson To Decision - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Mark Hunt Knocks Out Cheick Kongo In The First Round - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Jake Shields Wins Hard Fought Decision Over Yoshihiro Akiyama - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Tim Boetsch Upsets Yushin Okami In The Third Round - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Post-Fight Press Conference Video
- UFC 144 Results: Hatsu Hioki Defeats Bart Palaszewski By Unanimous Decision - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Anthony Pettis Knocks Out Joe Lauzon In The First Round - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Takanori Gomi Stops Eiji Mitsuoka In The Second - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Vaughan Lee Submits Kid Yamamoto With An Armbar - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Riki Fukuda Dominates Steve Cantwell To Decision - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Chris Cariaso Defeats Takeya Mizugaki By Unanimous Decision - Matthew Roth
- UFC 144 Results: Issei Tamura Knocks Out Tiequan Zhang - Matthew Roth