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UFC 144 Preview

By Rob Nevola, Writer

UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson will be held on Feb. 26, 2012 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Due to the time zone difference it will be seen in North America on Saturday, Feb. 25. The preliminary card has four fights that will air on FX. Judging by the looks of this card we should all be in for a treat. It is truly stacked with some young gunners looking to make a run and some older vets looking to stay alive. Here are the most anticipated fights on the card with my analysis and predictions.

The first fight of the evening will be a lightweight bout between Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon. Let me start by saying I had the pleasure of running into Lauzon on Xbox Live. I was playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 and Lauzon is pretty much a beast at Call of Duty. Ok back to the fight. Pettis currently holds a record of 14-2. He holds a victory over Ben Henderson, who will be fighting for the lightweight title on this card. Lauzon holds a record of 21-6, 17 of those wins by submission. This guy is extremely dangerous on the ground. He swarmed Melvin Guillard in his last fight, snapped on a rear naked choke and ended the fight in the first. Both fighters hold a purple belt in Brazilian Jui Jitsu. With that being said I believe Pettis is a more well rounded fighter and will dictate the pace of the fight.

  • Pettis defeats Lauzon via TKO in round 2.

The second fight on the main card is Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama. Japan’s own “Sexyama” is currently on a three fight losing streak, but has lost to quality opponents such as Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, and Vitor Belfort (two of those fights were fight of the night). Akiyama comes to fight, and will be looking to rebound in front of his home crowd. As for Jake Shields, he has not shown the skill of a true champion yet in the UFC. His UFC debut against Martin Kampmann was average, and with consecutive losses to Georges St. Pierre and Jake Ellenburger, Shields has yet to prove himself in the UFC.

  • Akiyama defeats Shields via split decision.

The only heavyweight bout of the night is between Cheik “I’m Built Like A God” Kongo and Mark Hunt. Kongo impressed the hell out of me when he fought Pat Barry at UFC Live: Kongo Vs Barry. Kongo was on the verge of getting knocked out and he came back to knock out Pat Berry in the first round. To have the presence of mind to intelligently defend yourself while taking so much damage and then throw a perfect combo to knock out your opponent is impressive. However Kongo has his hands full with Hunt. Hunt, a long time K-1 kick boxer, has lethal stand up and demonstrated that with knockout of the night honors against Chris Tuchscherer. If Kongo fights smart and doesn’t play into the stand up game too much I believe he can come out with the win.

  • Kongo defeats Hunt via KO in round 2.

Moving on to the co-main event of the evening. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader is your classic wrestler vs. wrestler match up, however Jackson has been more of a boxer in his last 4 fights. I have seen more of Quinton Jackson and less of RAMPAGE in his last as of late. I truly thought Bader was the next best thing to come out of the light heavyweight division,until he fight Jon Jones. Jones dominated Bader from start to finish. Since then Bader has lost to Tito Ortiz via guillotine choke and knocked out Jason Brilz. This fight comes down to a seasoned veteran vs. rising star. Both guys have to win this fight in order to stay relevant in the division. Whoever implements their wrestling, so they do not totally rely on their stand up, will win this fight. I think RAMPAGE Jackson shows up for this fight and grinds out a win.

  • Jackson defeats Bader via unanimous decision.

Last, but certainly not least, is the main event of the evening The Lightweight Championship bout between Frankie “The Answer” Edgar vs. Ben “Smooth” Henderson. Frankie’s title defenses have been against the same 2 fighters and have been rematches each time. Henderson will be a new test for Edgar. This guy has legs the size of tree trunks. He can take you down and he can strike with the best of them. This will be a true test of Frankie Edgar’s wrestling ability and overall skill in the octagon. When Edgar faced BJ Penn he was not the Penn that we all know and love, and Gray Maynard does not possess the stand up of Henderson. Henderson is a faster, stronger, more agile version of Maynard.

  • Henderson defeats Edgar via submission (guillotine choke) in round 3.
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