After ten long years the UFC is returning to the Land of the Rising Sun and the former stage of the legendary PRIDE FC with a record-setting seven-fight main card on Pay-Per-View. Former WEC 155lbs. champion “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (14-2) and “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (21-6) are slated for battle in the opening bout of UFC 144. Former Sengoku featherweight king Hatsu Hioki (23-4) will face IFL and WEC veteran “Bartimus” Bart Palaszewski (35-14). Former middlweight title contender “Thunder” Yushin Okami (26-6) will fight for the first time in Japan since 2006, his opponent the rough and tough “Barbarian” Time Boetsch (14-4) who seems to have reformed his career at 185lbs. Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and former 170lbs. title contender Jake Shields (26-6) looks to avoid three straight losses when he faces Japanese superstar “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-5). PRIDE and K-1 powerhouse “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt (7-7) will bring his granite chin and bone breaking kickboxing against fellow striker Cheick Kongo (17-6). Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (31-9), also of PRIDE fame, returns to the stage that started his career when he faces TUF 8 winner “Darth” Ryan Bader (13-2). The main event of the night pits the UFC’s 155lbs. king – “The Comeback Kid”, “The Ironhorse of New Jersey”, “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (14-1) – against the former WEC lightweight title holder “Smooth” Benson Henderson (14-2) with the winner earning the title of the best 155lbs. fighter in the world.
June 11, nearly a year after their first taste, Vancouver, British Columbia will get a second dose of world class MMA as the UFC returns with a star studded card that will not disappoint the Canadian fans. Number one contender of the heavyweight title “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (12-1) will defend his right to a title shot with his lethal hands against the big man from Colorado and former title challenger “The Engineer” Shane Carwin (11-1) in the main event. Dos Santos was scheduled to meet former champion Brock Lesnar (5-2) but recent and serious health issues have prevented Lesnar from competing, and Carwin answered the call. Former two-time lightweight title challenger “Ken-Flo” Kenny Florian (13-5) will make his debut in his fourth weight class at featherweight against WEC veteran “The Gun” Diego Nunes (15-3) and both men know a victory could very well lead them to a featherweight title shot. Norway’s own BJJ black belt Jon Olav Einemo (6-1) takes on “Pee Wee” Dave Herman (18-2) in a heavyweight tilt, while a battle in the lightweight division between “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (13-4) and Vagner Rocha (5-1) kicks off the main card. A middleweight bout ties up two tacticians as former title contender and top level Jiu-Jitsu fighter Demian Maia (13-2) steps in across the cage from heavy handed brawler “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (8-2). Both men are on two fight win streaks but only one will extend to three in their quest to capture UFC gold.
After an exciting night of fights at UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill, my friends and I quipped about how the originally intended title fight between ”The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0-1) would have been icing on the cake. Their second fight was one for the ages. Maynard showed exactly why he should be considered a serious contender and Edgar rallied back from the brink of defeat to show the heart of a champion. I assumed that a fight like that would gain the respect of MMA fans everywhere. What struck me absolutely dumb however, was the fact that the educated and respectful MMA fans in the room with me were completely unimpressed with Frankie Edgar. Are they talking about the same Frankie Edgar who defeated “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) twice? My friends simply said he was “not that good” and “lucky” and explained away his key victories. As Many MMA fans have echoed these very sentiments on internet forums across the globe so I felt compelled to present their arguments and offer the counter-points as well. Interestingly enough, it has been his title fights that have caused the most controversy in his career and the most often-used arguments against his legitimacy as top dog in UFC lightweight division. Perhaps Frankie is not the champ I thought he was? We’ll break down Frankie Edgar through the many factors that have dogged him since taking the belt.