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Three Stars: Hatsu Hioki, Anthony Pettis and Mark Hunt

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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A very happy Hatsu Hioki (Getty)

UFC 144 brought the promotion back to Japan with a top-to-bottom exciting card, complete with a tight, five-round thriller between new champion Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar in the main event. Who stood out?

No. 1 star -- Hatsu Hioki: After debuting in the UFC with a split-decision win over George Roop, Hioki fulfilled his promise as one of the world's best featherweights with a three-round beatdown of Bart Palaszewski. Though his stand-up needs work, he's the best current featherweight challenger out there for Jose Aldo's belt.

[ Related: Kevin Iole's UFC 144 breakdown ]

No. 2 star -- Anthony Pettis: Though Pettis' title shot was spoiled by Clay Guida, he kicked his way back into title contention on Saturday with a knockout of Joe Lauzon. He won a $65,000 Knockout of the Night bonus, and a possible rematch with Henderson.

No. 3 star -- Mark Hunt: Between 2006 and 2010, Hunt suffered six straight MMA losses. It was not a reach to think he wasn't going to be in the UFC's heavyweight division much longer. Things changed in 2011, as he took out Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and now Cheick Kongo. One thing is clear: the 37-year-old fighter from New Zealand is not done yet.

Who were your favorites from UFC 144? Who didn't impress you? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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