Rising Action: The land of the rising sun

Peyton Fulbright, Stampede Reporter

Electricity was in the air surrounding Japan Saturday night, as the UFC had a spectacular night of fights at the Saitama Super Arena.

Until a few years ago, Japan was the center of MMA. Pride FC was where the best of the best was, but Pride’s management went bankrupt when news surfaced of a scandal involving the Yakuza helping fund Pride. The Yakuza is the equivalent of the Japanese Mafia. Pride officials sold the company to Zuffa, the owner of the UFC. After trying for a year to make it work, Zuffa closed the door on Pride, taking in their talent pool. Ever since, the UFC is the spotlight of MMA.

Japanese MMA starts such as Takeya Mizugaki, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Yushin Okami, Hatsu Hioki, Takanori Gomi, Eiji Mitsuoka, “Kid” Yamamoto, Riki Fukuda, Issei Tamura, and Tiequan Zhang were featured on the card. Also featured were non-Japanese fighters who were stars while fighting in Pride, such as Mark Hunt and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Topping off the card was a lightweight title fight between Benson “Smooth” Henderson and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar.

Yushin Okami dominated Tim Boetsch, until the third round. Out of nowhere, Boetsch landed a few big punches that rocked Okami, and finally finished him off, in what makes for one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the sport.

“Rampage” Jackson was one of the biggest stars in Pride, always winning in dominating fashion. On Saturday night, he came up short against wrestler Ryan Bader. Jackson started off decent, but re-injured his knee in the second round, making fighting more painful than usual. Bader went on to win a unanimous decision.

A lot of people, including Frankie Edgar, disagree with the judge’s decision that Benson Henderson won the fight, taking home the title. Round one was insanely close, but I’d give the edge to Edgar. Round two was close, but Henderson landed a huge up kick at the end of the round. With a few more seconds, he would have finished the fight. I can see that round going to either fighter. Every round after, I give to Henderson. He landed less strikes, but his strikes did much more damage than Edgar’s. He controlled the pace, and he was the aggressor. Anyone who thinks Edgar won, must have taken as much damage to the head as Edgar did.

Next week in Australia, the UFC introduces a brand new weight class. The flyweights. The 125 pound division will be sure to carry an exciting pace, and I can’t wait.