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Final Bout Set for UFC 144

Up-to-the-minute news about UFC 144, scheduled for Saturday, February 26 in Saitama, Japan

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With Leonard Garcia sidelined due to injury, Japan's own Issei Tamura has agreed to step in and fight China's Tiequan Zhang on February 26 at UFC 144 in Tokyo. The 6-2 featherweight Tamura is a teammate of Kid Yamamoto, who is also fighting on the Saitama supercard.

Sots Injured, Gomi Gets New Opponent updated January 30
An injury has sidelined Aussie BJJ black belt George Sotiropoulos, forcing him off of next month's UFC 144 fight card.

Stepping up to face lightweight legend Takanori Gomi is another submission ace, Eiji Mitsuoka, who will fight in his hometown of Satiama, Japan. 

UFC Japan Fight Card Fleshed Out updated November 27
The Ultimate Fighting Championship® announced the full title card today of the organization’s return to the birthplace of mixed martial arts. UFC® JAPAN: EDGAR vs. HENDERSON features an epic lightweight title fight pitting champion Frankie Edgar against former WEC Champion Benson Henderson, a matchup first announced after Henderson's win over Clay Guida at UFC on FOX.
 
UFC Japan – or UFC 144 – will also feature the return to Land of the Rising Sun of  Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, one of the biggest stars in the sport, in a bout which will mark the 6th anniversary to the day of his last fight in Japan. Jackson faces rising star Ryan Bader, whose most recent win came just two weeks ago at UFC 139 in San Jose. 

Other key matchups feature Mark Hunt, a veteran of Japanese kickboxing, versus French heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo; and Japanese superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama dropping weight divisions to meet the always dangerous Jake Shields in the welterweight division.  Rounding out the main card will be a lightweight bout pitting the underrated Joe Lauzon, coming off a stunning 67-second submission over Melvin Guillard, against former WEC champion Anthony Pettis.

Other bouts on that card feature Japan's biggest MMA stars. Riki Fukuda will fight in a middleweight match against Steve "The Robot: Cantwell. "Kid" Yamamoto will go to battle against British bantamweight Vaughan Lee, fighting for the first time in almost two years in his home country. 

Perennial top-10 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki will square off against Chris Cariaso. And lightweight knockout artist Takanori Gomi will meet submission expert George Sotiropoulos.

Japan's most promising title contender, Hatsu Hioki, will face Bart Palaszewski in a featherweight showdown. Hioki made his UFC debut by beating tough veteran, George Roop, while Palaszewski had a spectacular debut at his new weight with a big KO win over Tyson Griffin."

Plus, China's Tiequan Zhang and the always-game Leonard Garcia have agreed to meet inside the Octagon on that date.

All of the bouts mentioned are verbally agreed upon and subject to change.

Pettis vs. Lauzon Booked for Japan updated November 15
“Verbal agreements are in for a match between two of the most exciting lightweights in the sport as Joe ‘J-Lau’ Lauzon will face Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis February 26th in Saitama, Japan,” confirmed UFC president Dana White today.

Rumors of the matchup surfaced after Lauzon's 47-second blitz win over then-top contender Melvin Guillard at UFC 136. Pettis told an interviewer he'd welcome a chance to fight Lauzon; shortly thereafter, Lauzon posted a video blog in agreeing to the bout.

Okami Returns in Feb. Against Boetsch
update November 15
Middleweight contender Yushin Okami will get a home game in his first bout since his UFC </a>134 clash with Anderson Silva when he takes on Tim Boetsch in UFC 144 action on February 26th.

“Undefeated since dropping down to middleweight, Tim ‘The Barbarian’ Boetsch has verbally agreed to face top three ranked Yushin ‘Thunder’ Okami February 26th in Saitama, Japan,” said UFC President Dana White.

Akiyama Makes Welterweight Debut against Shields updated November 14
Japanese superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama will have plenty of support from his home country fans on February 26th, when he makes his welterweight debut in UFC 144 action against 170-pound contender Jake Shields at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

“Verbal agreements are in for a welterweight matchup in Saitama, Japan between former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields and Asian superstar ‘Sexyama’ Yoshihiro Akiyama February 26th,” said UFC President Dana White.
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