The televised FX portion of tonight's (Sat., Feb. 25, 2012) UFC 144: "Edgar vs. Henderson" preliminary card from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, is officially in the books.
The final bout of the preliminary portion was expected to be a barnburner between Japanese lightweights Takanori Gomi and Eiji Mitsuoka, and that's exactly what is was. After an even first four minutes, Mitsuoka dropped Gomi and immediately pounced with his grappling attack, latching on a mounted triangle. Gomi, however, was able to survive until the final horn to make it to the second round.
After being told by his corner that Mitsuoka had gassed himself out, Gomi came out guns blazing in the second round, swarming his Japanese counterpart with pure aggression, overwhelming him with a large volume of wild punches.
"The Fireball Kid" eventually took Mitsuoka's back and dropped enough uncontested punches to force the referee to intervene in a crazy comeback.
The rest of the undercard was just as wild:
In one of the night's biggest surprises, Vaughan Lee and Kid Yamamoto waged a spectacular entertaining one round fight. Yamamoto had Lee on the ropes early after hurting him and unleashing a wild flurry of strikes against the fence, but Lee covered up and blocked enough to shake out the cobwebs.
Lee then fired back with a knee which hurt the Japanese legend and then he stunned him again with a heavy hook. When Yamamoto tried to recover with a takedown, Lee immediately locked in a triangle choke and then transitioned to a beautiful armbar which forced a tap from a clearly dejected Yamamoto.
The beatdown of the undercard award went to Riki Fukuda, who laid the smack down on former WEC light heavyweight champion Steve Cantwell. Now battling at middleweight, Fukuda was able to utilize some occasional takedowns, although the large majority of his offense came from the clinch where he pounded Cantwell inside with short uppercuts, hooks and elbows.
Fukuda's dirty boxing was just plain nasty and he poured it on in the second and third round as Cantwell began to tire out. The judges unanimous sided with the Japanese fighter with scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 to hand him his first UFC victory after a robbery of a loss in his debut last year.
In the most controversial fight of the preliminary card, bantamweights Takeya Mizugaki and Chris Cariaso battled very evenly in the stand-up over the course of three rounds although Mizugaki was able to mix in at least one takedown in each round. The Japanese fighter Mizugaki, spend a good amount of time in top position, occasionally dropping strikes, but he was unable to advance any further than half guard on the canvas.
It could be argued that Cariaso got a slight edge in the stand-up and while on his back, he was relatively active with sweep and submission attempts while defending reasonably well with his guard, but the crowd, much of twitter and especially myself were all stunned when the judges unanimous sided with Cariaso via identical 29-28 scorecards.
While it didn't take place on the FX portion, the first and only Facebook fight of the night was a doozy between Issei Tamura and China's Zhang Taiquan in the featherweight division. Tamura and Taiquan blasted each other early, coming out guns blazing but Tamura scored a takedown and kept Zhang down for the majority of the first round.
In the second round, however, Tamura set up with a left hand beautifully and blasted "The Mongolian Wolf" badly with a huge right hook which knocked him out instantly and will be a serious contender for a big fight night bonus.
Here are the complete undercard results:
Takanori Gomi def. Eiji Mitsuoka via TKO at 2:21 of round 2
Vaughan Lee def. Norifumi Yamamoto via submission (armbar) at 4:29 of round 1
Riki Fukuda def. Steve Cantwell via unanimous decision
Chris Cariaso def. Takeya Mizugaki via unanimous decision
Issei Tamura def. Zhang Taiquan via knockout at 0:32 of round 2
That's it for the preliminary card portion of the card. Be sure to hit up MMAmania.com's for up to the minute results and blow-by-blow coverage of the rest of the night's action by clicking here.