Four men walked away from the UFC’s return to Japan with post-fight bonuses on Saturday night, as Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, Anthony Pettis and Vaughan Lee were each awarded an extra $65,000 for their performances at UFC 144.
Henderson and Edgar (Pictured, file photo) shared “Fight of the Night” honors for their headlining lightweight title attraction at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Meanwhile, Pettis and Lee were handed “Knockout of the Night” and “Submission of the Night” for their respective first-round finishes of Joe Lauzon and Norifumi Yamamoto.
After five rounds of back-and-forth action, Henderson managed to pry the UFC lightweight title from Edgar, besting “The Answer” in a hard-fought unanimous decision. Though Edgar looked to establish his range early on, Henderson stayed with the champ from the get-go, devastating Edgar with an upkick in the second frame that appeared to break the New Jerseyan’s nose. Edgar attempted to turn up the pace in the fifth, but the effort ultimately proved insufficient, as he relinquished his title on scores of 49-46 (twice) and 48-47.
Pettis wasted no time in assaulting Lauzon in their pay-per-view opener, relieving the submission ace of his consciousness in just 81 seconds. “J-Lau” showed no fear of Pettis’ versatile striking attack as the bout began, leading with hard jabs. However, Lauzon soon found himself on the business end of Pettis’ shin, mistakenly protecting his ribs while “Showtime” unleashed a head kick that dropped Lauzon where he stood.
Known for his ground skills, Lee weathered some early offense from Yamamoto before returning the favor, buckling the knees of “Kid” with a hard shot. As the Japanese veteran lunged for a double-leg, the Brit immediately began fishing for a triangle, cinching it tighter and then transitioning beautifully to an armbar that finished the bout at 4:29 of the opening stanza.