UFC 144: Most Exciting Card of the Year
By Brian Holmes
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this card will be the most exciting of the year.
I know there is gonna be a lot more titles on the line in months to come as well as other exciting fights soon to come, but this card seems to really strike my fancy.
The card is headlined by UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar defending his belt against Benson Henderson.
The other match ups that are on the card that have me glued to this card is the bouts between Rampage vs Bader, Hunt vs Kongo, Shields vs Akiyama, Pettis vs Lauzon and Okami vs Boetsch.
The Edgar Henderson fight is just the cherry on top, both fighters coming from wrestling backrounds and having brown belts in jiu jitsu, this should be an exiting fight just off of their very improved stand up skills not even mentioning their grappling abilities.
While Henderson has more to gain by taking the championship, Edgar has almost as much to prove by defending the title against such a highly ranked contender.
In this fight I see Henderson defeating Edgar due to his constant attacking style and pace whether it be striking or grappling.
Rampage vs Bader is a match up that will decide where these fighters stand in the division.
With Rampage coming off of a loss to the current champion, my odds are on the fact that Rampage will drastically change his fighting style to deal with the ever growing talent in the division. You might not be able to tell with this fight due to Bader's primarily "power punching"/wrestling style, so don't expect to see Rampage show many of the changes he has probably been working on since his fight.
Bader is coming off a ko over Jason Brilz after two losses in a row. This might be his last/second to last fight in the ufc (depending on the outcome of this/his next fight in the UFC).
I see Rampage knocking out Bader and cementing the fact that he is at the top of the ufc lightweight division.
Shields vs Akiyama is a make or break fight. Whomever losses will probably get cut from the UFC due to unsucessful fights in the octagon.
Shields is coming off of two losses after all of the hype surrounding him as being the man to beat GSP. Shields needs this win to stay relevant in the ufc welterweight division.
The only thing that has kept Akiyama in the ufc til' now is that he has had three fight of the night honors while having a ufc record of 1-3 and while losing his last three fight in a row. Dana White said that he would not be cut from the ufc if he moved down to welterweight. So this will be an interesting fight to see how both fighters come off of consecutive losses and how Akiyama will deal with the weight cut.
Shields will eventually come out on top but will have to take the long road back to the title seeing as how Akiyama is not as highly touted as when he first entered the octagon.
Hunt vs Kongo is a fan favorite between two strikers. Both men have backrounds in kickboxing which should make it a top candidate for knockout of the night.
Kongo has to be the favorite coming in to this fight due to his higher level of competition and Hunt's mixed success in MMA.
I have Kongo winning this fight by first round ko, but with Hunt in the mix this is the fight that could make the upset of the night.
Okami and Boetsch is an easy fight to (on paper) pick to see who will win the fight, with Boetsch losing all of his fights to primarily wrestlers.
Okami should be able to decision himself a win and start to work him back to the top of the division.
Pettis vs Lauzon has #1 contender match written all over it.
Both fighter are coming off of impressive victories and have primarily different styles.
This is a classic striker vs grappler match up with Pettis being a very technical striker and Lauzon being mainly a grappler.
This fight has me guessing who will win, I give a slight edge to Pettis but both fighters have had their upsets in the past (e.g. Pettis vs Henderson and Lauzon vs Guillard and Pulver.
I can't express how slight of an edge I give to Pettis, this fight is one that I am more curious then anxious to see due to my curiousity to see the outcome.
UFC fight cards keep getting better and better but I don't know how Dana White will top this.