SAITAMA -- This is the UFC 144 live blog for all the preliminary bouts in support of tonight's UFC pay-per-view from the Saitama Super Arena.
Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka, Vaughan Lee vs. Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto, Steve Cantwell vs. Riki Fukuda and Chris Cariaso vs. Takeya Mizugaki are the four bouts to be televised on FX. Issei Tamura vs. Tiequan Zhang is the one bout to be carried on Facebook.
Follow the live blog below.
Issei Tamura vs. Tiequan Zhang
Round 1: Tamura lands a lead left hook. Moments later, Zhang drops Tamura with a hook of his own. Wild start and Tamura is quickly back to his feet and drills Zhang with a combo and now Zhang is down. Tamura follows him to the mat with ground and pound. Tamura holds the position well and repeatedly lands hammerfists from the top. Tamura works well from the half-guard but ref Herb Dean stands them up with about two minutes left. On the restart, Tamura goes low for the takedown. Zhang attempts a guillotine to no avail. Tamura still on top and he rides out the ride there. Tamura 10-9.
Round 2: Some back and forth standup to start the round. Bad idea for Zhang, who eats a crushing overhand right. He crashes to the mat unconsious, and UFC 144 begins with a bang.
Winner: Issei Tumura via KO, Rd. 1 (0:32)
Chris Cariaso vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Round 1: Cariaso wastes little time coming out with a head kick. It misses. Cariaso lands a right-left combo that snaps Mizugaki's head back. Miguzaki dove low for a takedown but Cariaso sidestepped him. Mizugaki got inside, secured a body lock and took Cariaso down midway through. Cariaso threatened with an oma plata. Mizugaki escaped and retained top position, peppering him with short punches to the ribs. Mizugaki stayed in Cariaso's guard, limiting his effectiveness, but he probably did just enough to win the round, 10-9.
Round 2: Cariaso's shorter, more compact strikes are landing more often in the standup. Mizugaki is looking for power punches. Good start to the round for Cariaso. Mizugaki shoots in and bulls Mizugaki against the fence. Mizugaki again is able to take him down. Mizugaki is slow with the offense. Cariaso sweeps out and free. Cariaso lands a short elbow as the close round ends. Cariaso 10-9.
Round 3: Cariaso tried a takedown, hoping to turn the tables. Mizugaki defended. Cariaso connects with a combination as they break and reset. A clinch against the fence. Cariaso with a nice short elbow. They break again. Cariaso tries a high kick and slips down. Mizugaki immediately swarms him, taking top position in what could be a crucial turning point. Cariaso working hard from the bottom but Mizugaki works offense from the top with elbows and short punches. Cariaso gets to his feet with 10 seconds remaining, but it's Mizugaki's round, 10-9.
Winner: Chris Cariaso via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Round 1: Cantwell lands a headkick as Fukuda was leaning forward to move into a takedown. Fukuda ate the kick and completed his takedown. Cantwell looked for an arm bar. No dice. Fukuda peppered Cantwell with a series of left hands from the top. Fukuda then postured up and switched to rights. Cantwell with an active guard but he's eating punches. Finally, Cantwell creates space and gets to his feet. Cantwell lands a hard right hand. Fukuda shoots low, and Cantwell stops the attempt. Fukuda moves forward with a combo, finishing with a hard left. Cantwell with a series of kicks late. A competitive round that MMA Fighting scores for Fukuda 10-9.
Round 2: The two trade leg kicks early. Fukuda scores a takedown. Cantwell snatches a guillotine. Fukuda wouldn't let him close his guard and snakes free. They move back to their feet and Cantwell lands some strikes from the clinch. Fukuda with a left hook, then a kick to the body as he continues his diverse striking game. He backs Cantwell to the fence and fires off a series of strikes. Cantwell may be tiring. Cantwell works out and the crowd cheers the exchange. The duo begin to trade late in the round. With :35 left a leg kick lands low on Cantwell, and the illegal strike leads to a timeout. Cantwell takes Fukuda down with :20 left but can't do anything with it as the round ends. It's Fukuda's round 10-9.
Round 3: Fukuda lighting Cantwell up early. Cantwell's gas tank is low and he's more of a stationary target now, and Fukuda's finding him. Fukuda takes him down two minutes in. Cantwell is active from the bottom, but Fukuda ends up taking his back. Cantwell escapes quickly and he's back to his feet. Fukuda going to the body. His striking isn't textbook but he comes from different angles and targets every part of the body. Fukuda is teeing off late as Cantwell fades. Cantwell has lost his last four and it looks like his losing streak will go to five as it's another Fukuda round.
Winner: Riki Fukuda via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Vaughan Lee vs. Norifumi "KID" Yamamoto
Round 1: Yamamoto dancing along the outside of the octagon as Lee follows him around. One minute in and little action, but Yamamoto blasts a right hook that just misses. Yamamoto with another right hook, Lee ducks underneath it. Moments later, another one and this one finds its mark. Lee stumbles backwards and Yamamoto follows with a series of punches, carefully trying to pick his target. Lee covers up well though. Yamamoto sees he's OK and backs off. On the reset, Lee lands a knee that rocks Yamamoto. Lee hurt Yamamoto again, this time with a right hook. Lee rushed him but Yamamoto took him down. Lee went for a triangle, then switched to an arm bar, and Yamamoto had to tap.
Winner: Vaughan Lee via submission (arm bar), Rd. 1 (4:29)
Round 1: Gomi clips Mitsuoka with a right hook early. Mitsuoka then with a left of his own. He tries an ankle pick takedown and Gomi defends. Mitsuoka's footwork is making him a hard target. His short punches are finding their mark. It's power vs. finesse early, and finesse has the edge. Mitsuoka doubles up with the right hook. He then floors Gomi with a short right hand as Gomi was winding up for something big. He takes Gomi's back and tries the mounted triangle. Gomi somehow holds on but it's Mitsuoka's round, 10-9.
Round 2: Gomi comes out firing early, swarming Mitsuoka. A pair of right hands land as he backs his opponent up. A big knee from the clinch. Mitsuoka is OK but Gomi's aggression is starting to overwhelm him. Gomi takes Mitsuoka's back and fires off right hands. Mitsuoaka is in trouble. The ref warns him to fight back but Gomi never lets up and the ref steps in to call the fight. A great comeback for Gomi after nearly tapping out in the first.
Winner: Takanori Gomi via TKO, Rd. 2 (2:21)