UFC 155 came to us from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night. Here is a recap of the main card:
Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson (185 pounds)
Leben, entering the Octagon for the first time in 13 months, took on Brunson, the former Strikeforce fighter, in the opening bout. Brunson throws an early left hook that is blocked by Leben. Leben catches a body kick attempt by Brunson, but Brunson scores a takedown. Leben begins working for submissions from bottom position. Brunson moves to side control, then mounts Leben. Brunson lands elbows from the top. Leben fights back to his feet, but Brunson is still controlling him. The fighters separate, as the round ends.
Brunson shoots for a takedown to begin round two, but Leben stuffs it. Leben lands a good left hook but Brunson earns another takedown. Leben escapes to his feet, and lands a big left uppercut. Brunson tries another takedown, but telegraphs it. Brunson lands a few punches in a quick exchange, but neither fighter seems to have much gas left, as the round ends.
Brunson begins the final round by keeping Leben at bay with legkicks. Leben stuffs another Brunson takedown attempt. Brunson tries another takedown and, this time, gets it. Leben gets to his feet, but Brunson scores with a knee to the body. Both men begin swinging inaccurately, and appeared to be exhausted. Leben lands a couple of left hooks that stun Brunson, but Brunson lands a crucial takedown. Both fighters are back up, as the fight ends.
Derek Brunson wins by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher (185 pounds)
The second bout featured a pair of top 10 middleweight title contenders. Belcher tries a head kick, but Okami easily blocks it. Okami catches Belcher with a jab as Belcher is attempting another kick. Okami tries a takedown, but Belcher locks in a guillotine. Okami slips out, and gets side control. Okami controls Belcher on the mat for the remainder of the round.
Round two opens with Okami charging forward, controlling Belcher on the cage. Okami gets another takedown, but Belcher locks in a second guillotine. Okami escapes again, and ends up on top. After little action, the referee stands them up. Okami eats a solid right hand from Belcher. Okami lands a combination and gets standing control on the cage. Okami drags Belcher to the mat for another takedown. The referee stands them up again. Little action follows, as time expires.
Belcher begins the final round by landing a glancing right hand that staggers Okami. Okami tries another takedown, but Belcher ends up on top. Belcher takes Okami’s back. Okami escapes, then gets back to top control. Okami gets full mount, landing shots, as time runs out.
Yushin Okami wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Costa Philippou vs. Tim Boetsch (185 pounds)
Philippou, filling in for the injuried Chris Weidman, took on the rising star Boetsch in the third fight. Both men were riding four fight winning streaks. Boetsch charges forward to begin the bout, grapples briefly on the cage, and gets a takedown. Philippou gets to his feet, but Boetsch is still in control. Philippou lands a knee, and separates from Boetsch. Philippou lands a good overhand right, followed by a right uppercut, as Boetsch tries to move forward. Boetsch scores another takedown. Philippou is back up, and lands a big combination on the cage. Boetsch lands a big front kick that drops Philippou, as time expires.
Between rounds, Joe Rogan muses that Tim Boetsch may have broken his hand in round one. Philippou opens round two by missing with a high kick, and Boetsch grabs a clinch. An accidental headbutt by Philippou opens a big cut on Boetsch’s forehead. Boetsch begins to throw elbows, instead of using his sore right hand. After a brief stoppage for an accidental eyepoke on Boetsch, Boetsch pulls guard. Boetsch is having trouble seeing, and Philippou begins landing elbows from the top. Philippou controls position for the remainder of the round.
Boetsch opens the final round by shooting for a takedown. Philippou stuffs it, and gets top position on the mat. Philippou opens another cut on Boetsch’s head, then allows Boetsch to get to his feet. Boetsch is really having a difficult time seeing. Boetsch tries a desperate takedown, but Philippou ends up on top again, landing big shots until the referee stops the fight.
Costa Philippou wins by TKO at 2:11 of round three.
Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon (155 pounds)
It may or may not be a coincidence that UFC 155 belonged to the 155 pounders. Miller, filling in for the injured Gray Maynard, took on Lauzon in the co-main event. Miller lands an early legkick, then scores with rights and lefts as Lauzon backs away. Miller charges forward with lefts to the head and body, followed by a big knee. Miller begins attacking the legs of Lauzon, and following up with big punches. Lauzon’s face is busted open badly, and the referee stops the fight to have the cut checked. Lauzon tires a takedown, but Miller just continues to tee off on him. Miller lands more rights and lefts, but Lauzon survives the round.
Lauzon tries an inside legkick to begin round two, but Miller continues to land shots at will. Miller gets a takedown, and Lauzon’s face is a bloody mess. Lauzon somehow reverses control to take top position. Lauzon attempts a leglock as the round ends.
The final round begins with Lauzon missing with a flurry of elbows, and Miller dropping him with a legkick. Miller lands a straight left, then grabs a clinch and lands a knee. Lauzon responds with a knee to the solar plexus that staggers Miller. Lauzon follows that up with a left that opens a cut on Miller’s eye. Lauzon shoots for an apparent takedown, but quickly transitions into an ankle lock. Miller is in trouble as time ticks down. Lauzon releases the ankle lock, and sinks in a guillotine, as Miller is saved by the bell.
Jim Miller wins by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez (265 pounds)
Dos Santos, the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, took on Velasquez in the main event, a rematch of their November 2011 bout (in which Velasquez was KO’d in 64 seconds). Velasquez charges forward, and gets a brief takedown. JDS is quickly out, and back to his feet. Velasquez is hunting JDS, pushing forward and landing with left jabs. Velasquez tries for another takedown, but JDS avoids it. Velasquez continues to try desperately for a takedown, but he cannot get it. Velasquez lands a good straight right, but is unsuccessful with another takedown attempt. Velasquez grabs a clinch, and lands a knee, accompanied by his jabs, which are starting to pile up. The fight changes dramatically when Velasquez drops JDS with a big overhand right. Velasquez pounces on his opponent, landing big lefts to the head. JDS is ups, but Velasquez drags him back to the mat. Velasquez is on JDS again, punishing him with rights and lefts as the round ends.
Velasquez gets a big slam takedown to open round two, and is quickly on top landing big shots. JDS fights to his feet, but Velasquez gets him back down. JDS looks absolutely exhausted, but still gets back to his feet. Velasquez takes him down again, and is now doing so at will. Velasquez works for an armbar, but JDS slips out. Joe Rogan comments that JDS looks “helpless.” Velasquez tees off with more shots as the round ends.
JDS starts round three with a good right uppercut, and a left to the body. Velasquez scores another takedown, and the champ is powerless to stop it. JDS is back up, but eats a big straight right from Velasquez. Velasquez lands a right/left/right combination on the cage. JDS lands an uppercut, but Velasquez isn’t fazed, as the round ends.
Both fighters open round four missing wildly with punches. Velasquez controls JDS on the cage, but JDS lands a good back elbow. Velasquez scores yet another takedown. JDS is back up, but eats a body shot and a left to the head. JDS scores with a knee to the body, followed by a right hook to the head. There is little action for the remainder of the round.
The final round begins with a desperate JDS landing a left to the body, as Velasquez tries for another takedown. JDS stuffs another takedown attempt, but misses with a big left hook. With 2:30 left, Velasquez scores another takedown. JDS is back up, but Velasquez is still in control. Velasquez lands a head kick that backs up the champ, as time expires.
Cain Velasquez wins by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-43, 50-44) to become the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Reflections: UFC President Dana White was quoted as saying, “Thank God for the co-main and main event tonight, that's all I have to say. The co-main and main event saved the night,” in reference to the underwhelming first three fights on the pay-per-view portion of the card.
Chris Leben looks sluggish in his return, and Derek Brunson screamed in delight (as if he had just won the Super Bowl) after his boring decision victory. Alan Belcher killed any momentum he had in the middleweight division by laying an egg against Yushin Okami. Neither man is a serious contender at 185 pounds.
Tim Boetsch was coming off an impressive string of victories (Kendall Grove, Nick Ring, Yushin Okami, Hector Lombard), and seemed poised to enter the discussion of serious middleweight contenders. However, after being stopped by Costa Philippou (a fighter NOT ranked in the top ten), Boetsch’s dreams of a title shot have disappeared.
Jim Miller, with his impressive performance, reentered the fray at 155 pounds. He has several intriguing options for his next fight. A rematch with fellow contender Gray Maynard (Maynard defeated Miller by unanimous decision in 2009) is a possibility, as is taking on the winner of the January Anthony Pettis-Donald Cerrone fight.
The UFC heavyweight division is more complicated. There are several possibilities for Cain Velasquez, the new champion. A rubber match with Junior dos Santos would be epic, but JDS will likely be medically suspended following the beating he took on Saturday night. Daniel Cormier, Velasquez’ AKA teammate, is probably the most qualified contender. However, the teammates have repeatedly stated their unwillingness to fight one another. This leaves Alistair Overeem as the most likely challenger for Velasquez, provided he can defeat Antonio Silva on February 2nd.
Happy New Year, everyone!