UFC Fight Night is on from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan tonight — with a two hard-hitting heavyweights topping the bill.

The Japanese crowd will enjoy the return of old favorite Mark Hunt, as he squares off against another slugger (and his fellow top ten ranked UFC heavyweight), Roy Nelson.

The event also includes several old favorites from the heyday of Japanese MMA, including Takanori Gomi, who faces #9 ranked UFC lightweight Rick Story, and Yoshihiro Akiyama, who fights TUF 7 Champion Amir Sadollah at welter. Miesha Tate will face Rin Nakai in an anticipated bout in the women’s bantamweight division.

The action begins in less than three hours, at 12:30 am Eastern or 9:30 pm Pacific with the event’s preliminary bouts — and we’ll be providing play-by-play. Please join us and hit refresh often for the latest update!

Full Card:

Preliminary Bouts: (UFC Fight Pass, 12:30 am Eastern/9:30 pm Pacific)

Featherweights: Maximo Blanco vs. Daniel Hooker

5’8″ Blanco is a Venezuela-born wrestler based in Tokyo, with a long history in Japan including a Pancrase champion. He’s 2-3 in the UFC and a -170 favorite here. New Zealand’s 6’0″ “Hangman” Hooker is 1-0 in the UFC.

Round One: Blanco aggressive with hand combo’s to begin. Hooker with a hard elbow when they clinch. Hooker trying to establish that long jab. Blanco finally gets a takedown but Hooker’s right back up. A big left hook and uppercut lands for Blanco. Nice knee from Hooker but he’s blasted by the uppercut again, and taken down. Nice elbow by Blanco in Hooker’s half guard. Hooker gets up, Blanco finishes strong with hand combo’s. 10-9, Blanco.

Round Two: Right hook lands from Blanco, who is noticably quicker. Big punching combo’s follow. Hooker lands a knee and an elbow. Right hooks and overhand lefts keep connecting from Blanco. Leg kick begin to land from Hooker. Hooker bloodied from some earlier damage. Blanco slowing. Blanco lets his hands go, landing with one punching combo after another now. Action is stopped to look at the cut. Jabs landing for Blanco now. 10-9, Blanco.

Round Three: Quick takedown from Blanco. Hooker bounces right back to his feet. He has little defense on his feet but he scrambles well. Hooker with a head kick and a leg kick. Good elbow in the clinch from Blanco. Hooker shrugs off a Hooker takedown attempt. Does this sound like a video game? That’s what it looks like — strikes going back and forth with little defense, or, seemingly, damage done. Blanco with a series of jabs. Hooker with a three punch combo and a knee to the body. Head kick by Hooker. 10-9, Hooker.

Judges match my scorecard:

Maximo Blanco defeats Daniel Hooker by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Lightweights: Johnny Case vs. Kazuki Tokudome

Case is nicknamed “Hollywood” even though he’s from Iowa. Hmmm. He’s new to the UFC and trains out of Alliance in San Diego. Tokudome is a judoka from Tokyo.

Round One: Just a quick recap as we had a few tech issues here. Tokudome dominates the round with an effective ground-and-pound tactic here. Case has a few bright spots when the fight stays standing. 10-9, Tokudome.

Round Two: Case fares better trying to keep in standing, establishing the jab well. Tokudome tries to respond with a low kick and grazes Case’s groin. On the restart, Case catches a guillotine off another takedown attempt and out goes Tokudome!!!

Johnny Case defeats Kazuki Tokudome via technical submission (guillotine) at 2:34 of round two.

Bantamweights: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Michinori Tanaka

Round One: Kang with a big right — and again. Tanaka stunned. Kung gets mount as Tanaka stumbles to the mat. Kang gets back mount with hooks! Kang looking for rear naked choke, with body triangle too. Tanaka spins out into Kung’s guard but Tanaka gets the back mount position again. Another nice scramble sees Tanaka on top, and lands a few punches in Kung’s guard. They scramble to their feet and exchange punches. Tanaka pulls guard (?) Light punches from Kang, transitioning to back again, as time winds down. 10-9, Kang.

Round Two: Kang landing hand combo’s at will to start. Nice body kick. Tanaka shoots in for the takedown, finishes with inside trip. Kang gets a Kimura grip and uses it to sweep. Some nice grappling exchanges in this bout. Kang lands in mount, still looking to finish the Kimura. Kang moves into rear mount, Tanaka escapes to guard again. Some pretty scrambles going on. Tanaka ends up in mount, lands some nice elbows & punches to the head. Close round, but I’ll go 10-9, Tanaka.

Round Three: Slower standup exchange, Kang lands a nice front kick and straight left. Tanaka with a nice single leg takedown, attacks with guillotine on top. Kang with a great transition into rear mount. Kang looking for body triangle. They scramble back to their feet, throwing straight punches. Tanaka lands the better of it. Kang sprawls out of a takedown, looks to roll into a choke. Tanaka escapes, hits a takedown but Kang reverses and gets the back again! Another scramble, and Tanaka with another nice hand combo. I’m going 10-10.

Great fight that could go either way.

Kyung Ho Kang defeats Michinori Tanaka by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Welterweights: Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Takenori Sato

5’10” Sato is a judo black belt who has trained extensively with Kazushi Sakuraba. 6’2″ Lim is noted for his standup skills and fights out of Korean Top Team. He’s a huge (-700) favorite here.

Round One: Southpaw Sato looking leg kicks, falls to guard when he fails with a takedown. Lim looking for punches at long range. Lim sprawls out of single leg takedown. Big elbows drop down to the head! Ugh, it’s at the same 45 degree or so that Travis Brown favors — and Sato’s out cold.

Hyun Gyu Lim defeats Takenori Sato by knockout (elbows) at 1:18 of round one

Welterweights: Katsunori Kikuno vs. Sam Sicilia

Sicilia is from Spokane, WA. Kikuno is a Kyokushin expert. Brian Stann is an excellent announcer — but he mispronounces both Spokane and Kyokushin, which gives me a smile. Kikuno, a -125 favorite enters the cage to the tune of “We Are The World,” which somehow feels right.

Round One: Nice right from Kikuno from his unusual, hands-down stance. Kikuno ducks under a punch and lands. Good high kick from Sicilia to try and catch him in that odd movement. Front kick from Kikuno, leg kick, then an overhand right. Nice straight right and another leg kick from Sicilia. Kikuno bouncing around, hits more leg kicks. Sicilia timing better and better with his hand combo’s, but struggling with the leg kicks. 10-9, Kikuno.

Round Two: Sicilia clearly bothered by all those leg kicks, moving around the outside and geting picked off. Kikuno with a takedown — and Kikuno takes back, both hooks! Sicilia looks to escape, but the rear choke latches on. Sicilia taps to the choke!

Katsunori Kikuno defeats Sam Sicilia by submission (rear naked choke) at 1:38 of round two.

Bantamweights: Alex Caceres vs. Masanori Kanehara

5’7″ Kanehara is a BJJ black belt who has become stand-up oriented in his attack. He’s won 6 of his last 7 fights. 5’10” Caceres, aka “Bruce Leroy,” has won 5 of his last six and enters a (-315) favorite.

Round One
: Cacares moving in and out, lancing with his jabs and kicks. Leg kick from Kanehara. Nice right from Kanehara after he eats a leg kick. Kanehara takes Carares down after another leg kick. Cacares isolates an arm in guard and totally negates any Kanehara offense there. Cacares back up, but gets rocked by a right. Cacares in retreat as Kanehara lands elbows and punches. Cacares recovering to throw a few back as round ends. 10-9, Kanehara.

Round Two: Cacares glances a high kick. Kanehara with a double leg takedown, and maneuvers to the back. Cacares up to his feet, with Kanehara still on his back — now with body triangle. Cacares crumbles to the mat but continues to defend the choke. A few punches to the head by Kanehara. Position is static as round ends. 10-9, Kanehara.

Round Three
: Cacares using his reach better now, landing jabs and hooks from his southpaw stance. Kanehara is just a little quicker, but Cacares is busier. Nice overhand from Cacares. They clinch, but the action goes nowhere and they disengage. Cacares attacking with a lead uppercut. Leg kick from Cacares ends a hand combo. Nice left hook from Kanehara but not enough here. 10-9, Cacares.

The judges’ scores are identical to mine, and the crowd favorite gets the upset:

Masanori Kanehara defeats Alex Caceres by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Main Card: (UFC Fight Pass, 3:30 am Eastern, 12:30 am Pacific)

Flyweights: Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Jon Delos Reyes

23 year old Horiguchi is a Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto protege who is ranked #14 in the UFC’s rankings. He’s a -700 favorite here against Delos Reyes — who has a San Shou background and splits time between Guam and Las Vegas.

Round One: Hand combo’s exchange, and a big round kick to the body stuns Delos Reyes. Takedown by Horiguchi. Delos Reyes elevates from butterfly guard to escape, but gets caught with punches on the way up. Horiguchi switching stances for punching combo’s. Delos Reyes with a good jumping knee to the face. They clinch, Horiguchi with some nice knees to the body. Big left staggers Delos Reys! Horiguchi pours it on, following Delos Reyes to the mat with punches until the ref steps in.

Kyoji Horiguchi defeats Jon Delos Reyes by TKO at 3:48 of round one.

The boss is impressed (and so am I!)

Welterweights: Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Richard Walsh

Walsh is an Aussie who has won 6 of 7 bouts, and spent some time with Team Alpha Male in Northern California. Kunimoto is a 33 year old from Osaka on a six fight winning streak; he enters a -240 favorite.

Incidentally, Enson Inoue is a Walsh fan:

Round One: Walsh with an inside leg kick that hits the groin. A quick re-start. Nice left hook decks Kunimoto, who spins up to his feet. Nice exchange of straight punching, both landing 1-2’s. Knee cracks Kunimoto, who crumbles to the mat again — but again he bounces right to his feet. They clinch to the cage, and Kunimoto is bleeding badly. Low knee from Walsh halts the action again. After a few moments, we re-start — a jab from Walsh lands. Kunimoto initiates the clinch again. 10-9, Walsh.

Round Two: Walsh with more combination punching. Kunimoto initiates the clinch, lands a few knees to the body. Walsh able to muscle him around and disengage. Kunimoto misses an overhand. Another clinch that Walsh shrugs off. Nice body kick by Walsh. Action slows as we move in and out of clinch. 10-10.

Round Three: Walsh shrug off a takedown but takes a knee to the body. Kunimoto initiates the clinch, and gets a few little shots. Walsh with another body kick. Walsh with a nice overhand right. Kunimoto finally gets the takedown, stays on Walsh for knees to the legs and body as he tries to rise. Kunimoto gets him to the mat with back mount. Kunimoto keeping back mount, looking for the choke and getting a few punches in, as time expires. 10-9, Kunimoto.

Kiichi Kunimoto def. Richard Walsh via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Women’s Bantamweights: Rin Nakai vs. Miesha Tate

Colorful grappler Nakai is 5’1 to Tate’s 5’6″. Orange and purple fighting attire just… looks… right one her, somehow. No smiles from Tate, ranked #2 in the UFC rankings, as she walks to the cage.

Round One
: Nakai moving her hands in a spastic manner as Tate moves forward with punches. Nakai shoots for a takedown. Clinch to the cage, and Tate with some knees to the body. Tate whips Nakai to the mat. Nakai rises to her feet. Body kick from Tate. Tate evades Nakai’s takedown attempt. Tate dominating the standup with straight punching. Tate sprawls out of another takedown. Nakai pushes her to the cage but Tate shrugs off the suplex attempt. 10-9, Tate.

Round Two: Nakai looking over matched, but she’s trying. She slips a punch and shoots a single leg in deep but Tate shrugs her off again. Nakai suddenly bounces up to Tate’s back in a standing position. Tate escapes to put her on her back, and Nakai looks to isolate her arm. Good punches and elbows to the head by Tate. Nakai scrambles to her feet. Tate dominates to the bell. 10-9, Tate.

Round Three
: Nakai again maneuvers to Tate’s back but nothing doing. Tate stalks around the cage landing little shots here and there, Tate dominating the clinch-work. Just not a compelling bout. Nakai keeps shooting the takedown to little effect. Sure, she gets a late takedown but it goes nowhere as Tate quickly moves back to her feet. 10-9, Tate, and let’s just move on.

Miesha Tate defeats Rin Nakai by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

Middleweights: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Amir Sadollah

Akiyama with his typical “Time to Say Goodbye” cagewalk. Love it. Beautiful shiny gold trunks too.

Round One: Akiyama with a beautiful trip as Amir tried a knee. Sadollah in half guard, Akiyama flattens him out. Little shots and great pressure from Akiyama. Sadollah spins to his feet after several minutes. Akiyama glances with a spinning back kick. Tepid exchange to end the round. 10-9, Akiyama.

Round Two: Sadollah attacks with high kicks. Sadollah’s inside leg kicks landing now. Sadollah with spinning back fist. Leg kick and jab as Sadollah switches stances, but he gets blasted with a right. Good leg kicks continue to land. Big right drops Sadollah! Akiyama pounces for punches in Amir’s guard. Sadollah attacks with up-kicks and triangles to no effect. 10-9, Akiyama.

Round Three: Akiyama keeping the same pace — staying in the pocket with punches and kicks. Nice spinning back kick. Sadollah with a glancing right. Sadollah stumbles, and Akiyama follows him to the mat for more head-punching. The punches are landing hard now and Sadollah is bleeding badly. 10-9, Akiyama.

At one point, it appeared Akiyama was actually flirting with Julianna Pena cageside as he initiated his ground-and-pound assault.

Yoshihiro Akiyama defeats Amir Sadollah by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Lightweights: Takanori Gomi vs. Myles Jury

Jury is #9 in the UFC LW rankings, stands 5’9″ to the old warrior Gomi’s 5’6″. He’s a five-to-one favorite here.

Round One: Jury with a high kick and a front kick to start. Gomi with a round house left. Jury moves back & forth from southpaw to orthodox looking for the shots at long range. Big right drops Gomi! Jury pounces with punches and the ref steps in.

Myles Jury defeats Takanori Gomi by TKO (punches) at 1:32 of round one.

Heavyweights: Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson

“We Will Rock You” heralds Nelson’s arrival to the cage. Hunt uses a ballad. The Japanese crowd is clearly amped but it’s weird how every UFC event, somehow, feels the same. Few shots of the crowd. Stann mentions that Hunt said he was actually lighter than usual for the bout — disputing previous reports. Hunt is a -155 favorite.

Round One: Big right lands from Hunt to start. He’s more aggressive than I expected. Nelson shoots for a takedown but is shrugged off. Nice right from Nelson, just bouncing in and out. Time is called from an eye poke — Hunt poked Nelson. Restart — and Hunt with a front kick. Hunt with a heavy leg kick. He’s aggressively landing his combo’s, mixing the attack and controlling the pace. Nelson consistantly missing his overhand and left hook. Leg kicks continue from Hunt. Nice 3-2 combo from Nelson. Hunt shrugs off another Nelson takedown. Nice straight right from Nelson. Big leg kick from Nelson. Nelson counters with a short right as Hunt advances. 10-9, Hunt.

Round Two: Nelson finally gets his takedown, and takes back as Hunt tries to scramble away. Hunt shakes him off and gets to his feet. Uppercut/left hook combo from Hunt, Nelson lands a right and a stiff jab. Heavy leg kick by Nelson. Right hand blasts Nelson. BOOM! Right uppercut flattens Nelson as he ducked down. Ref stops the fight as Nelson tries to rise slowly and Hunt stands over with his hands raised in victory.

Mark Hunt defeats Roy Nelson by knockout (punch) at 3:00 of round two.

That’s it! I’m getting some sleep. Thanks for joining us!!!