This Day in MMA: Ben Henderson Becomes UFC Champ
Fight Network Staff / February 26, 2013 - 11:59am
On this day in 2012, UFC 144 took place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. It was the UFC's first time back in Japan after a hiatus of 12 years. The show drew a crowd of 20,000 fans, and a buy-rate of 375,000 pay per views.
The card was headlined by lightweight stars Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson. After five rounds of hard fought action, Henderson was awarded a unanimous decison (49-46, 48-47, 49-46) to become the new UFC lightweight champion. Henderson would go on to defend the title against Edgar, as well as Nate Diaz later in the year.
Also on the card, Anthony Pettis knocked out Joe Lauzon with a superb high kick in 81 seconds to help him rise up the rankings at 155. Mark Hunt scored a solid TKO over over Cheick Kongo 2:11 into the second round, in a triumphant return to Japan. Tim Boetsch made an incredible comeback against hometown favourite Yushin Okami, and finished the Japanese star via TKO, 54 seconds into the third round. Ryan Bader upset Quinton Jackson via a unanimous decision, winning all three rounds in the fight. Another decision was awarded on the card to Jake Shields, who took all three rounds on the judges' scorecards over Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Bonuses were awarded to Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson for fight of the night. The knockout of the night was Pettis' headkick over Lauzon, and Vaughn Lee's first round armbar against Kid Yamamoto earned Lee submission of the night. Each fighter who won a bonus award took home an extra $65,000 for their efforts.