The UFC returned to the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the first time in six months to deliver their traditional New Year’s card. This time, the fans were treated to a five-round war of attrition between Cain Velasquez (11-1) and “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (15-2) for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Leading up to the main event was the “Fight of the Night”, a bloody three-round battle between elite lightweight grapplers “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (22-8) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (22-4). Unfortunately for both the UFC and the fans, the opening three bouts were nowhere near as exciting. Constantinos Philippou (12-2) scored a third-round TKO over “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-5) in the anchor fight. “Thunder” Yushin Okami (28-7) used his Judo and wrestling to shut down “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-7), but he also shut down the audience as the fight dragged on at an abysmally slow pace. “The Crippler” Chris Leben (22-9) returned to the Octagon to face Strikeforce transplant Derek Brunson (10-2) in the opening bout, but his lay-off appeared to have greatly affected him and the combined performance of Brunson and Leben prompted Dana White to apologize for putting the fight on the main card. The main event was good, the anchor was bad, and the opening bout was just ugly, but the fighters themselves and how they fared may be a different story.
As MMA’s 2012 calendar year draws to a close, the UFC returns from its globe-trot to its home in Las Vegas for UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II on December 29. The MGM Grand Garden Arena plays host to a night of thrilling fights including “The Crippler” Chris Leben (22-8) returning to the Octagon against Derek Brunson (9-2). “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-6) looks to stake his title claim at middleweight against “Thunder” Yushin Okami (27-7). Another surging middleweight, “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4), takes on Serra-Longo prospect Constantinos Philippou (11-2). “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (22-7) looks to keep his win streak alive against the always-tough Jim Miller (21-4). The marquee fight closes out the year perfectly as the UFC Heavyweight Championship is put on the line in a rematch of arguably the two toughest heavyweights on the planet in champ “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (15-1) and the man from whom he took the title, Cain Velasquez (10-1).
The UFC will return to the combat sports superfight Mecca that is the MGM Grand Garden Arena for its annual New Year’s event, set to take place on December 29. The world’s premier MMA organization has once again scheduled a major title contention for the main event, pitting reigning heavyweight king “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (15-1) against the man he captured the crown from, Cain Velasquez (10-1). Opening the night’s festivities is a sure-fire crowd pleaser as “The Crippler” Chris Leben (22-8) returns after a year-long suspension to take on Strikeforce transplant Derek Brunson (9-2). Next out “Thunder” Yushin Okami (27-7) will look to build a winning streak by ending the current four-fight run of “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-6). “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4) will collide with another middleweight on a four-bout hot streak, Constantinos Philippou (11-2), and lightweight submission wizards Jim Miller (21-4) and “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (22-7) will meet in the night’s co-main. Recent history has not been kind to either lightweight and each is eager to put a 1-1 2012 behind them.
The UFC closes out the mixed martial arts action for 2012 on a high note with UFC 155, as heavyweight king “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (15-1) and Cain Velasquez (10-1) face off one more time to claim the heavyweight title as their own. Co-main event duties are handed to “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (22-7) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-4) in a possible “Fight of the Night” candidate. “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-7) will try to keep his rise in the middleweight division alive as he takes on “Thunder” Yushin Okami (27-7) in a rematch from their organizational debut. Derek Brunson (9-2) makes the jump from Strikeforce to the UFC 185lbs. division with “The Crippler” Chris Leben (22-8) waiting to greet him. In the middle of all the action, “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4) takes on short notice Constantinos Philippou (11-2). Each are riding a wave of success so far in the division but once they’re locked in the cage together, only one is guaranteed to see themselves take a step up in the middleweight food chain.
December 19 the UFC closes out its 2012 back at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with UFC 155 live and direct on Pay-Per-View. “The Crippler” Chris Leben (22-8) greets 185lb. Strikeforce transplant Derek Brunson (9-2) in the card’s opener. “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4) meets Constantinos Philippou (11-2) in a pivotal match-up for both men. The pace is going to be set to “frantic” and “erratic” in the co-main event when fan favorites and submission artists “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (22-7) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-4) collide in a lightweight showdown. In the main event, Cain Velasquez (10-1) will seek redemption as he tries to take the heavyweight title back from the man that took it from him and handed him his first loss: “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (15-1). Before this tale of revenge gets played, one more rematch is in order when “Thunder” Yushin Okami (27-7) takes on “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-6) once again. It was Okami who proved triumphant in their debut at UFC 62 in 2006 but with six years passing and experience gained, Belcher is looking to even the score.
The UFC returns to its home base at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 29 for the annual New Years card. UFC 155 will feature a rematch for the UFC Heavyweight Championship between “Cigano” Junior dos Santos (15-1) and Cain Velasquez (10-1). Also on the slate, Jim Miller (21-4) pits his submission skills against those of “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (22-7). “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4) will continue his rise up the middleweight ranks against the always dangerous Constantinos Philippou (11-2) with each man’s four-fight streak on the line. “Thunder” Yushin Okami (27-7) will do battle with another middleweight who has had his title hopes derailed by a few key losses, “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-6). Opening the card is a middleweight bout between another pair of middleweights who have found themselves in an interesting sort of career limbo. Out of the cage legal screw-ups have set “The Crippler” Chris Leben’s (22-8) career back almost as much as his recent losses. Derek Brunson (9-2) came into MMA strong with a 9-0 start before a bad career decision completely derailed his hype train before he rolled into a loss against the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. Each man needs to right the ship at the other’s expense.
The women once again took center stage in Strikeforce as “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (6-0) continued her rapid ascent to MMA super-stardom with yet another first-round Armbar submission. This time the victim was former champion Sarah Kaufman (15-2) and the bout took just 54 seconds. Also continuing on the path to greatness was blue chip journeyman Ovince St. Preux (12-5). “OSP” opened the main card in spectacular fashion with a third-round highlight reel KO of TJ Cook (12-5). Grappling specialist Lumumba Sayers (6-3) had the script flipped on him as “Lionheart” Anthony Smith (17-8) lured him into his guard for a first-round Triangle Choke win. “The Sponge” Tarec Saffiedine (13-3) managed to out-work Roger Bowling (11-3) en route to a Unanimous Decision in the anchor bout and the co-main event saw “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (16-3) put hot prospect Derek Brunson (9-2) away in spectacular fashion with a solid right hand. It was a solid showing for the junior organization of the Zuffa family and made another strong impression for the ladies with Dana White. MMA Gospel is here to recap the action.
—MAIN CARD (on Showtime)—
Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman: Rousey via Submission (Armbar), Round 1, 0:54
Ronaldo Souza vs. Derek Brunson: Souza via KO (Punches), Round 1, 0:41
Roger Bowling vs. Tarec Saffiedine: Saffiedine via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Lumumba Sayers vs. Anthony Smith: Smith via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 1, 3:52
TJ Cook vs. Ovince St. Preux: St. Preux via KO (Punch), Round 3, 0:20
The women return to Zuffa action Saturday as Strikeforce pits reigning undefeated Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (5-0) against former champion Sarah Kaufman (15-1) in her first title defense. Supporting the championship affair is a card filled with some of the smaller Zuffa promotion’s best including a co-main event between former middleweight king “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (15-3) and Derek Brunson (9-1). Anchoring the Showtime main card is dangerous submission fighter “Sponge” Tarec Saffiedine (12-3) against knockout artist “Relentless” Roger Bowling (11-2). Lumumba Sayers (6-2) will find himself face to face with “Lionheart” Anthony Smith (16-8) in the second fight of the night and it will all kick off with a battle between red hot Tennessee journeyman “OSP” Ovince St.Preux (11-5) as he battles TJ Cook (12-4).
It was an amazing weekend for MMA. The UFC kicked off its flyweight division with an entertaining, non-stop, action-packed scrap between Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson on Friday night. And Saturday night saw women’s MMA reinvigorated by two great fights between Sarah Kaufman and Alexis Davis and the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Title bout between Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey. However, it wasn’t all good…
Here on MMA Gospel, we do a column after fights called “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and I’m going to use that format with my own spin: The Epic and the WTF?! It was originally going to be “The Epic, the Shitty and the WTF?” but I found it hard to separate the shitty from the WTF.