For years he was the talk of the MMA world, heralded for being arguably the best fighter outside the shark tank that is the UFC. Many believe he still holds the best chance in dethroning the top middleweight fighter on the planet and long-time champion “The Spider” Anderson Silva (33-4). This man is former Bellator, CFC, and AFC Middleweight Champion “Lightning” Hector Lombard (32-3) who owns perhaps the most powerful strikes in the 185lbs. division, held the longest win streak at 24 victories, earned a knockout win at just six seconds of the opening round, and seems unstoppable once again after manhandling feared middleweight powerhouse “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-5) in his adopted home of Australia. MMA Gospel writer Cole Moorman goes one-on-one with the powerful striker to find out how “Lightning” is looking to strike UFC gold.
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 UFC flopped completely for the first time in a long time as UFC 149′s Pay-Per-View card disappointed in a very big way. After a knockout-riddled, fast paced, and exciting preliminary card, the main card brought on a chorus of boos from the normally respectful Calgary crowd that perfectly harmonized with the internet rage buzzing on Twitter and other forum boards. Renan Barao (29-1) captured bantamweight gold against “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-6) in a solid main event that wasn’t enough to excuse the night before it. “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4) snapped “Shango” Hector Lombard’s (31-3-1) long-standing winning streak in a contestable and contemptible Split Decision. Cheick Kongo (18-7-2) clinched his way to a victory over “The Savage” Shawn Jordan (13-4) that drew the ire of Dana White. “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (50-15-1) saw his winning streak shattered in a narrow Split Decision loss to James Head (9-2) that was also a subject of fan wrath, and “Deep Waters” Matt Riddle (7-3) impressed in the only main card bout that delivered as promised when he locked a third-round submission against “The Menace” Chris Clements (11-5). The prelims were good, the main card was bad, the fans were downright ugly, but here’s how the fighters themselves made out.
—MAIN CARD (on Pay-Per-View, 10:00pm ET)—
Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barão: Barão via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 49-46), Round 5, 5:00
Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch: Boetsch via Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29), Round 3, 5:00
Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan: Kongo via Unanimous Decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Brian Ebersole vs. James Head: Head via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Chris Clements vs. Matt Riddle: Riddle via Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke), Round 3, 2:02
UFC 149 has been one of the most injury-riddled cards in Zuffa history. The event’s marquee bout was originally scheduled between opposing The Ultimate Fighter: Live coaches “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-5) and UFC 135lbs. champion “The Dominator” Dominick Cruz (19-1) to settle the score both from the show and their two previous meetings, where each competitor took one victory apiece. A knee injury sustained during TUF put Cruz and the grudge match on the back burner, and now Faber is slated to face Nova Uniao fighter Renan Barao (30-1) for the newly minted Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship. The co-main event featuring top featherweight contender “New Breed” Erik Koch (13-1) challenging “Scarface” Jose Aldo (21-1) for the 145lbs. division title was postponed due to the champion being injured, and was replaced by the UFC debut of “Lightning” Hector Lombard (31-2) as he takes on “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (15-4). Despite approximately another dozen changes to the line-up, the UFC has still managed to put together a promising event for MMA fans across the globe. French kickboxer Cheick Kongo (27-7) and “The Savage” Shawn Jordan (13-3) will slug it out in a heavyweight battle, preceded by “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (50-14) colliding with James Head (8-2) in a welterweight tilt. Opening slot honors go to “The Menace” Chris Clements (11-4) as he squares off against “Deep Waters” Matthew Riddle (6-3). But before shelling out the big bucks to watch the main card on Pay-Per-View, be sure to catch the preliminary fight excitement on FX and Facebook, which features some of MMA’s top up-and-comers, perhaps most notably “Big Deal” Ryan Jimmo (16-1).
The UFC 149 main card has been one incredibly laden with injury, but still the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion has managed to piece together another spectacle for a sold out crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Alberta, Calgary, Canada and the millions around the world watching live via Pay-Per-View. Kicking off the party is “The Menace” Chris Clements (11-4) teeing off against TUF alum “Deep Waters” Matt Riddle (6-3), followed by a welterweight tilt between “Hairrow” innovator “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (50-14-1), barely 30 days out from his UFC on FX 4 match-up, versus James Head (8-2). French kickboxer Cheick Kongo (17-7-2) and heavy-handed “The Savage” Shawn Jordan (13-3) anchor the card with a heavyweight battle. Former CFC, AFC, and Bellator champion “Lightning” Hector Lombard (31-2-1) will finally take his place inside the UFC’s Octagon, and welcoming him is “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (15-4). Lombard currently possesses one of the most lengthy winning streaks in MMA at 24, while Boetsch has recently built up his own momentum within the UFC. In the marquee bout of the evening, “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-5) will be put to the test by Brazilian monster and owner of an ongoing 28-fight win streak, Renan Barao (28-1), for the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship title. In anticipation of the UFC’s latest effort being presented on Saturday, the MMA Gospel staff has taken another crack at predicting how the evening might play out.