Remaining bouts confirmed for UFC 144 in Japan

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has confirmed the remaining bouts for “UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson” scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26, at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, and headlined with a lightweight title match between champion Frankie Edgar and former WEC lightweight champ Ben Henderson.

The UFC 144 co-headliner will feature former UFC light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who was an enormous star in Japan during his days with Pride, taking on TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader.

Coincidentally, Jackson’s last fight in Japan took place exactly 6 years to the day and in the same arena in which he will fight Bader. On Feb. 26, 2006, Jackson defeated Dong Sik Yoon via unanimous decision at Pride 31.

Also on the main card, former K-1 and Pride star, Mark Hunt, returns to the land of the rising sun to take on French heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo, and Japanese superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama is making the move to welterweight to take on former Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields.

Also, Yushin Okami returns following his title fight loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 134 in August to take on rising middleweight star Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch, who remains undefeated at 185-pounds since moving down from light heavyweight earlier this year.

Rounding out the main card is a lightweight match-up between the always dangerous Joe “Don’t Blink” Lauzon and former WEC lightweight champ Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. Lauzon is coming off a brilliant 67-second submission win over Melvin Guillard at UFC 136 in October.

The UFC 144 preliminary card is filled with Japanese talent, including DEEP middleweight champion Riki Fukuda, who is taking on former WEC light heavyweight champ Steve Cantwell at middleweight.┬áJapanse knockout artist Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto will face British bantamweight Vaughan Lee in what will be his second trip to the UFC Octagon.

Also, Top-10 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki will take on San Francisco’s Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso. And former Pride lightweight champ “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi will battle submission ace George Sotiropoulos in a lightweight showdown.

At featherweight, former Shooto lightweight champ and former Sengoku featherweight champ Hatsu Hioki will make his second trip to the Octagon to take on Bart Palaszewski, who is coming off a “knockout of the night” win over Tyson Griffin in the first round at UFC 137 in October.

And finally, rounding out the prelims at featherweight, China’s Tiequan Zhang will square off with the always entertaining Leonard Garcia. Both fighters are coming off losses and need a win, but Garcia has lost his last two fights in a row, most recently, to Nam Phan at UFC 136.

Here is the full UFC 144 fight card line-up as it stands:

  • Lightweight Championship bout: Frankie Edgar (C) vs. Benson Henderson
  • Light-Heavyweight bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader
  • Heavyweight bout: Cheick Kongo vs. Mark Hunt
  • Middleweight bout: Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch
  • Welterweight bout: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields
  • Lightweight bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon
  • Bantamweight bout: Kid Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee
  • Lightweight bout: Takanori Gomi vs. George Sotiropoulos
  • Featherweight bout: Tiequan Zhang vs. Leonard Garcia
  • Featherweight bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski
  • Bantamweight bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso
  • Middleweight bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Steve Cantwell

NOTE: In the UFC’s final update for this card the Okami-Boetsch fight is not listed, hopefully it is just an oversight on their part.

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