The UFC 144 fight card is rapidly materializing, with the promotion announcing several additional match-ups for their impending return to Japan today. Among them is a heavyweight tilt between Cheick Kongo and Mark Hunt, as well as a bantamweight fight between Takeya Mizugaki and Chris Cariaso.
A staple in the UFC’s heavyweight division, Cheick Kongo has managed to string together two consecutive victories, having defeating Pat Barry and Matt Mitrione this year. The towering French striker is 17-6-2 overall and has proven himself to be a formidable opponent on repeated occasions against the best in the world.
New Zealand K-1 veteran Mark Hunt will be competing in familiar territory at UFC 144, as he spent the first eleven fights of his fourteen-fight MMA career competing in Japan for either Pride or Dream. Hunt was written off by most when he went on a six-fight losing streak over four years, but the 37-year-old has experienced something of a late-career resurgence, taking two straight UFC wins over Chris Tuchscherer and Ben Rothwell.
Japanese 135-pounder Takeya Mizugaki will compete on home soil for the first time since 2008 and he’ll be looking to make it make it two in a row after defeating Cole Escovedo by TKO back in September. The 27-year-old has gone back and forth in his Zuffa career, having balanced wins over Jeff Curran, Rani Yahya, Reuben Duran, and Escovedo with losses to Miguel Torres, Scott Jorgensen, Urijah Faber, and Brian Bowles.
12-3 fighter Chris Cariaso has experienced a similar run with Zuffa, losing to Renan Barao and Michael McDonald, and beating Rafael Rebello, Will Campuzano, and Vaughan Lee. Cariaso last competed against Lee earlier this month at UFC 138, taking home a split decision victory.
UFC 144 takes place on February 25, 2012, from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.