What a weekend.
Rampage Jackson hurled PRIDE fans one final shot of nostalgia with a vintage powerbomb. Mark Hunt penned another chapter of a storybook run in his old stomping grounds. Joe Rogan spontaneously combusted as Tim Boetsch blasted his way to eleventh-hour glory. Anthony Pettis lived up to his nickname, rocketing into title contention in utterly spectacular fashion.
And of course, Ben Henderson gutted his way to the sport's highest level, capping the night in tearful celebration with his mother as gold draped around his waist.
Even now, it's hard to put into words what took place on Saturday night. Between the nostalgic return to Japan and the greatest collective spectacle of any card in recent memory, UFC 144 produced an unexplainably unique experience that will not soon be forgotten. Relive the action and catch up with the aftermath on today's Morning Report.
5 MUST-READ STORIES TO START YOUR DAY
UFC 144 post-fight interviews. Ariel Helwani caught up with all the stars of UFC 144, including UFC president Dana White, new lightweight champion Ben Henderson, Rampage Jackson, Anthony Pettis, and Mark Hunt.
Frankie Edgar doesn't 'need' to drop to featherweight. With wins over Jim Miller, B.J. Penn (x2) and Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar has one of the sharpest résumés in the entire 155-pound division. So why does one loss relegate him to the featherweight division?
Time for Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis II. Michael David Smith examined Saturday night's biggest storylines, highlighting the winners, the losers, notable quotes, and the UFC's next blockbuster rematch on the Morning After.
Hatsu Hioki is Japan's last best hope for a UFC title. After cementing his status as the No. 2 featherweight in the world, Hioki may soon find himself carrying the hopes of a nation as Japan's only viable contender.
Rampage Jackson says he won't retire. Rampage surprised those expecting a post-UFC 144 retirement, and instead blamed his loss on an unspecified injury that nearly prevented him from competing.
Courtesy of Fox Sports, relive UFC 144's electrifying night of fights with this comprehensive highlight package.
While in Japan, Georges St. Pierre had an opportunity to visit a kyokushin karate gym and be on the receiving end of a kindergarten beat down.
Check out Pavel Kusch's absurd 30-second finish of Alexander Starikov at last week's Cage Warriors 46 event.
A sharply-dressed Ben Henderson beams alongside his mom after his title-winning performance. (via @UFC)
Meet Fluffy, the rainbow translating pen that took the world by storm on Saturday night (via @the_mizutama).
MOST VALUABLE PEN
All this time and I have been using crap for pens @ufc I want the translators pen to take notes— Phil Davis (@PhilMrWonderful) February 26, 2012
Rainbow Afro Fluffy Pen 4 Life!!!— John Cholish (@JohnCholish) February 26, 2012
THE BARBARIAN ALMOST GIVES JOE ROGAN A HEART ATTACK
OH MY LORD!!!!!! DID U SEE THAT?????— Jake Ellenberger (@EllenbergerMMA) February 26, 2012
Joseph Benavidez (@JoeJitsu) February 26, 2012
@timboetsch...greatest comeback in UFC history. Congrats buddy!!!— Rich Franklin (@RichFranklin) February 26, 2012
Announced over the weekend (Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 - Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012):
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day goes to BE reader sun yue: The Art in Mixed Martial Arts: Kid Yamamoto's Most Beautiful Performance.
As glorious as Gomi's and Boetsch's come from behind wins and Henderson's five round championship victories were, Yamamoto's defeat was as tragic as those moments were wonderful. The scene captured a range of feelings and the real and stirring art in mixed martial arts: Lee at his highest high with Yamamoto at his lowest low behind him. The fallen great releasing his frustration on the mat. The passion and desire to get the elusive win he needed to save his career and the poignant reality of coming so close only to have it ripped away. The raw emotion. While the young, dynamic Kid would have dominated a fighter like Vaughan Lee, in defeat, Kid Yamamoto moved me with his candid heartbreak in a way that a flashy knockout never could and truly delivered his most beautiful performance.
Found something entertaining, brutal, or bizarre you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just send it to @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's post.