• Three Stars: Hatsu Hioki, Anthony Pettis and Mark Hunt

    A very happy Hatsu Hioki (Getty)

    UFC 144 brought the promotion back to Japan with a top-to-bottom exciting card, complete with a tight, five-round thriller between new champion Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar in the main event. Who stood out?

    No. 1 star -- Hatsu Hioki: After debuting in the UFC with a split-decision win over George Roop, Hioki fulfilled his promise as one of the world's best featherweights with a three-round beatdown of Bart Palaszewski. Though his stand-up needs work, he's the best current featherweight challenger out there for Jose Aldo's belt.

    [ Related: Kevin Iole's UFC 144 breakdown ]

    No. 2 star -- Anthony Pettis: Though Pettis' title shot was spoiled by Clay Guida, he kicked his way back into title contention on Saturday with a knockout of Joe Lauzon. He won a $65,000 Knockout of the Night bonus, and a possible rematch with Henderson.

    No. 3 star -- Mark Hunt: Between 2006 and 2010, Hunt suffered six straight MMA losses. It was not a reach to think he wasn't going to be in the UFC's heavyweight division much longer. Things changed in 2011, as he took out Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and now Cheick Kongo. One thing is clear: the 37-year-old fighter from New Zealand is not done yet.

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  • Photo: Jon Jones, Kate Upton and Jane Lynch pal around at Daytona 500

    A UFC champ, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model and an Emmy-winning actress met up at the Daytona 500 today. Jon Jones was an honorary race official, while Kate Upton and Jane Lynch were there to spend some time being awesome.

    Best friends forever (Full Athlete Marketing)The race was delayed until Monday, so they had plenty of time to discuss throwing elbows, photoshoots, and wearing track suits. Hopefully, Lynch was offering "Bones" a cameo on "Glee." Nothing could prepare him better for his fight with Rashad Evans than a song and dance with New Directions.

    Jones also got to meet some of the biggest names in racing:

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  • Photo: Benson Henderson celebrates UFC lightweight title with his mom

    Benson Henderson and his mom (Tracy Lee)

    When Benson Henderson walked out of the cage after winning the UFC lightweight title, he walked right past security and the UFC staff who was directing him towards the locker room. He had to go celebrate with the woman who has supported him throughout his career: his mom.

    In a sweet moment, Henderson hugged his mother. She pulled back and grabbed at his belt, bursting with pride over her son's accomplishment. Henderson provided another great performance in beating Frankie Edgar, but didn't forget to say thank you to his mom.

    He admitted that he did hear her cheering during his fight.

    ""My mom has a pretty distinct voice. I can hear her everywhere," Henderson said.

    Read More »from Photo: Benson Henderson celebrates UFC lightweight title with his mom
  • Benson Henderson takes UFC lightweight title in classic decision

    And new lightweight champion (Tracy Lee)Benson Henderson won the UFC's lightweight belt by winning a decision 49-46, 48-47, 49-46 over Frankie Edgar at Saitama Super Arena in Japan on Saturday. His cardio and strength were too much for the smaller Edgar.

    The two lightweights came out with great movement and crazy strikes in the first round, just as you would expect from two smaller guys. Edgar stalked Henderson down, but Henderson did not back away from the fight. He threw several kicks, and Edgar caught them.

    [Video: Henderson is too strong for Edgar]

    In the second round, Edgar continued to move around the cage and cut angles, meeting Henderson with leg kicks. Again, Edgar caught Henderson's kicks, but Henderson adapted in this round and threw a jab, even with his leg in Edgar's hands. Henderson cut Edgar's left eye with his jab, and it swelled as the fight went on. Late in the second, Edgar got a takedown, and when he moved off Henderson, "Smooth" landed a perfect upkick. Edgar fell to the ground. He survived, but Henderson did serious damage to Edgar's nose.

    [ Related: Kevin Iole's UFC 144 breakdown ]

    When the third round began, Edgar's nose was swollen and pouring blood. Henderson pounced when Edgar slipped on a kick, and he took Edgar to the ground. Henderson tried to take Edgar's back, but couldn't because of how Edgar moved away. Late in the round, Edgar got a takedown.

    Henderson started the fourth round with few marks on his face, while Edgar's was busted up and swollen. Halfway through the round, Edgar went for a takedown. Henderson pulled guard and caught Edgar in a guillotine. Though it was deep, Edgar was able to pop his head out.

    Before the fifth and final round, Henderson's corner asked, "Do you got five good minutes?" Henderson answered, "I've got 15."

    [ Related: Weight flop proves costly as 'Rampage' loses to Ryan Bader ]

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  • Bader scores another takedown against Rampage (Photo by Tracy Lee)

    Quinton Jackson didn't come to Japan ready to fight and it cost him in what he hoped would be a triumphant return. The former PRIDE legend and UFC light heavyweight champ didn't make weight on Friday. When it came time to show his stamina and athleticism, "Rampage" just didn't have it.

    Behind a solid clinch game and wrestling, Ryan Bader pulled what turned out to be a mild upset, via unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three cards.

    [ Related: Benson Henderson wins title belt in classic vs. Frankie Edgar ]

    Jackson was a minus-250 favorite in the lead up to the fight. When he showed up at the

    Read More »from ‘Rampage’ weight flop costs him; Bader puts him on his back to roll to victory at UFC 144
  • Mark Hunt takes out Cheick Kongo in the first round at UFC 144

    (Tracy Lee)

    Mark Hunt made his name in combat sports in Japan, as he was a well-known and credentialed kickboxer. He thanked the Japanese fans with a quick knockout of Cheick Kongo at UFC 144.

    [Video: Watch Hunt-Kongo fight highlights]

    The two tentatively felt each other out, but when Kongo came inside, Hunt met him with a huge left that sent Kongo flying. Kongo returned to his feet, then Hunt threw a right-left combo that wobbled his opponent. He followed it with uppercuts until Kongo's legs fell out from underneath him. The bout was stopped at 2:11 in the first round.

    At 37 years old, Hunt now has

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  • Boetsch rages in victory (Photo by Tracy Lee)

    With some guts, power and toughness, Tim Boetsch turned a trip back down the middleweight ladder into an opportunity to legitimately call out top-five fighters at 185 pounds.

    After getting schooled for two rounds in every aspect of the game, Boetsch landed some huge shots to finish Yushin Okami at the 0:54 mark of the third round at UFC 144 in Tokyo, Japan.

    [Video: Boetsch outduels Okami with power and guts]

    Boetsch got picked apart in the first by Okami's boxing. The Japanese veteran then turned to his vaunted ground-and-pound game in the second. Okami outlanded Boetsch 47-26 over the first two rounds. With Boetsch down 2-0 and his face busted up, the American had to go for broke.

    Read More »from UFC 144 comeback: Boetsch pulls off miracle against Okami; Shields gets by ‘Sexyama’
  • Anthony Pettis, Hatsu Hioki impressive at UFC 144

    Another great kick from Pettis (Tracy Lee)Anthony Pettis was already known for one of the most memorable kicks in MMA history. He added to that legend with a left kick that knocked out UFC veteran Joe Lauzon at 1:21 in the first round of their bout at UFC 144 at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

    With that perfectly-placed kick, Pettis won his second fight in a row. After the fight was stopped, he jumped on top of the fence and gestured for the belt.

    [Video: Watch Pettis-Lauzon fight highlights]

    "Winning that fight is an amazing feeling.  I was on a bit of a down streak in 2011, but 2012 is my year and I'm getting a title shot.  I'm back, focused and ready to go, I didn't get touched.  I think I confused him with my southpaw, had him biting on the jab then threw the high kick and it landed.  I wanted to put on a good show for the fans because without them, I wouldn't be Anthony Pettis," Pettis said after the fight.

    A title shot was supposed to be his after he won the WEC's lightweight belt in December of 2010. However, a loss to Clay Guida in June squashed those plans. Now, with an impressive knockout of Lauzon and a win over Jeremy Stephens, he's making a case that he belongs at the top of the UFC's stacked lightweight division.

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  • Translator’s pen steals show at UFC 144

    Though UFC 144 started with an impressive knockout by Issei Tamura and Vaughan Lee finishing off Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, it was the translator Mizutuma's pen that really stole the show.

    The UFC asked a translator into the cage at the Saitama Super Arena to share comments from fighters and commentator Joe Rogan. She used a pen and paper to keep track of everything said. A multi-colored, fuzzy pen.

    After the fights, she tweeted a picture of her pen with the introduction, "Let me introduce my partner."

    If there's one thing MMA needs, it's more flair. Hopefully this pen will open the door for

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  • Yamamoto's caught in Lee's clutches (Photo by Tracy Lee)

    Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto is snake bitten or maybe it's simply that the division has caught and passed him by. The Japanese legend was shocked by Vaughan Lee in a submission defeat at 4:29 of the first round at UFC 144 in Tokyo, Japan.

    Yamamoto, a huge knockout artist with good wrestling, was controlling the fight. With 1:04 left in the round, Kid got into a mix up with Lee. The Brit threw a bevy of right hand uppercuts and two body shots. Then came a right hook that landed on the Kid's chin. The Japanese legend stepped back and his right leg was like jello. Vaughn charged forward to attack but Yamamoto scored a takedown.

    Still, he was in a no-win situation. Yamamoto was trying to slow the fight down, but he went into the guard of an excellent submission fighter. Lee (12-7-1, 1-1 UFC) quickly threw his legs up. He slapped on a triangle choke and eventually switched to an armbar. Yamamoto held out for a few seconds before tapping.

    Read More »from UFC 144 upset: ‘Kid’ Yamamoto falls again; Gomi posts nice comeback