Feb 25, 2012

Mark Hunt Earns TKO Victory Against Cheick Kongo

The next fight on the UFC 144 card from Japan featured a heavyweight showdown between one of the most improved fighters in the sport against one of the biggest names in history.

After losing six straight between 2006 and 2010, Mark Hunt had a 5-7 record and may have been looking at the end of his professional mixed martial arts career. He was able to bounce back and defeat Chris Tuchscherer and Ben Rothwell to get to this fight with Cheick Kongo.

Kongo is one of the most improved fighters in the UFC during the past three years and was looking to follow up his previous two victories against Pat Barry and Matt Mitrione with a solid win at the Saitama Super Arena.

To open the first round, Kongo used his reach advantage to get in and rock Hunt, but was unable to do serious damage. About a minute later, Hunt rocked Kongo with a vicious left. On wobbly legs, Hunt continued to attack Kongo and landed several unanswered right hands to lay out the Frenchman.

Official Decision: Mark Hunt via TKO at 2:11 of the first round

Joe Rogan said it during the telecast that Hunt may be improving, which at the age of 37, is insane, but it is true. Those who underestimated Hunt (myself included) will have to take a look at how much skill he has in the sport. At 37, it is hard to imagine him ever challenging any of the young heavyweights, but he is fun to watch.

For more UFC 144 coverage and fight recaps, go here.
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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes

Tim Boetsch Defeats Yushin Okami After Amazing Comeback

The third of seven fights on the UFC 144 card from the Saitama Super Arena saw a middleweight fight between Tim Boetsch and Yushin Okami.

The 26-6 Okami was making his first appearance in the Octagon since being dismantled by Anderson Silva at UFC 134 last August. The 14-4 Boetsch was looking to move his record to 3-0 in the middleweight division with a victory against the native Japanese fighter.

To start the fight, both men seemed tentative, but Okami looked quicker with his strikes. Okami was landing his jab at will, which really caused problems for Boetsch. Boetsch was trying everything he could to land strikes against Okami, but each time he came close, he got rocked. In the final minute of the round, Boetsch was beginning to find his range and connected with a couple solid shots to Okami, but Okami didn't seem fazed.

My scorecard: Yushin Okami, 10-9.

The start of the second round saw both men come forward, but Boetsch saw himself backed up to the cage by Okami. Two minutes into the round, Okami took Boetsch down, but the American attempted a guillotine choke. Okami alleviated some of the pressure of the choke and when he got out of the position, he was in good top position. He eventually worked to the full mount with 25 seconds left in the round to finish the fight.

My scorecard: Yushin Okami, 10-9.

Boetsch needed a knockout or submission to win this fight and went right after Okami to start the third round. Okami was retreating, but Boetsch connected at will. Boetsch landed upper cut after upper cut and finished off Okami.

Holy crap, what a comeback by Boetsch.

Official Decision: Tim Boetsch via TKO at 0:54 of the third round.

Despite the loss for Okami, it was the best two rounds he has seen during his time in the UFC. All that matters is how the fight ended, which was an amazing comeback by Boetsch. He may be the real deal at middleweight even after being dominated for 10 minutes.

For more UFC 144 coverage and fight recaps, go here.
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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes

Hatsu Hioki Dominates Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144

The second televised fight from UFC 144 featured two talented featherweights. Hatsu Hioki was making his second appearance in the UFC, while the colorful veteran, Bart Palaszewski was also making his second appearance. Hioki defeated George Roop in his debut, while Palaszewski knocked out Tyson Griffin in his debut.

Hioki was 25-4 in his professional career coming into this fight, including wins in five straight. Palaszewski came into this fight a winner in five of six, including a win against Anthony Pettis in December 2009.

The open of the fight saw Hioki land a solid strike to rock Palaszewski. Palaszewski rebounded, with both men landing solid strikes during the next minute. Hioki then connected with a takedown, but Palaszewski was working for a guillotine, which Hioki evaded. Hioki quickly got to side position and was working towards a crucifix. Hioki landed countless unanswered and unblocked strikes to the head of Palaszewski.

With two minutes left in the round, Palaszewski gave up his back, which led to Hioki to work towards an arm bar, which Palaszewski got away from, leading to a triangle attempt. Palaszewski again got away and found Hioki in his guard. Hioki spent the final minute of the round landing vicious strikes from the top on Palaszewski.

My scorecard: Hatsu Hioki, 10-9.

The second round started a bit slower than the first, but Hioki continued to land damaging strikes. Two minutes into the round, Hioki landed a beautiful combination that concluded with a nice head kick. Palaszewski  began to find his range midway through the round, landing nice combination's of his own, ending with leg kicks.

My scorecard: Bart Palaszewski, 10-9. He was landing more strikes and did more damage. Hioki had a noticeable limp at the end of the round. 

With the fight even on my scorecard, which fighter would come out more aggressive?

Palaszewski came straight forward to start the third round, but Hioki got a takedown less than 30 seconds into the round. After showing great patience, Hioki moved into the mounted crucifix and landed countless blows. Palaszewski gave up his back and Hioki gained over-under control as he worked towards a rear-naked choke. Hioki didn't stop working towards the submission, but Palaszewski did a good job of avoiding the submission, but Hioki won the round.

My scorecard: Hioki 10-9, overall, Hioki 29-28.

Official Decision: Hatsu Hioki via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

After watching Hioki in this fight, I can actually see somebody employed by the UFC as a viable threat to Jose Aldo and the UFC featherweight title.

For more UFC 144 coverage and fight recaps, go here.
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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes

UFC 144 News

UFC 144 emanates from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. It will be the first UFC event in Japan since UFC 29 in December 2000. That night, Tito Ortiz and Pat Miletech retained their UFC middleweight and lightweight championships. This time around, Frankie Edgar will be defending the UFC lightweight title against Ben Henderson and Japanese fan favorite Quinton Jackson will fight Ryan Bader, despite coming in six pounds overweight.

Ben Henderson New Lightweight Champion
Ryan Bader Upsets Rampage Jackson
Mark Hunt TKOs Cheick Kongo in Round 1
Jake Shields Earns Decision Victory Against Sexyama
Tim Boetsch Defeats Yushin Okami in Amazing Comeback
Hatsu Hioki defeats Bart Palaszewski
Anthony Pettis KOs Joe Lauzon

Top Fights to Watch at UFC 144
Who Needs Win the Most at UFC 144
Preview and Predictions for UFC 144
Odds and Outlook for UFC 144