-Fittingly for perhaps the most injury-cursed year in UFC history, the final card of 2012 barely resembled what was initially planned – outside of the main event, the rematch between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez for the UFC Heavyweight title, that is. The original co-main of Forrest Griffin vs. Phil Davis was scrapped when Forrest blew out his knee, and two other main card bouts – Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch and Gray Maynard vs. Joe Lauzon – ended up being changed; Costa Philippou replacing Weidman and Jim Miller replacing Maynard. On a plus note though, the card did gain an exciting-sounding Lightweight fight in Jamie Varner vs. Melvin Guillard (moved from the TUF Finale after Varner was “violently sick” backstage) and it was still one of the better sounding ones of the year on paper with loads of intriguing fights.
UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II
Las Vegas, Nevada
-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Joe Rogan. Who could forget that this was the show that lost Mike Goldberg due to sickness, and spawned loads of dodgy rumours about Goldie being a pill addict in rehab and all sorts?
Flyweight Fight: John Moraga vs Chris Cariaso
Moraga had made a successful UFC debut in August, viciously knocking out grappling expert Ulysses Cruz, while Cariaso had moved to 125lbs in May after a solid run at 135lbs, and defeated Josh Ferguson in his first fight at the weight. My pick here was Moraga for no good reason really.
Notable observation – Cariaso, despite having fought at 135lbs for most of his career, doesn’t even look big or shredded at 125lbs. Moraga looks bigger in fact.
Round One and Cariaso opens with a sharp leg kick. Head kick is blocked by Moraga. Brief exchange sees both men land with glancing blows. Right to the body from Moraga and he follows with a sharp right and a head kick as Cariaso freezes up for a second. Cariaso looks okay though and circles out. Good leg kick from Cariaso but he takes a counter right from Moraga. Beautiful takedown from Moraga but he allows Cariaso up right away. Good counter left from Moraga as Cariaso comes forward. Head kick answers for Cariaso and Moraga just about gets his arm up to block. Takedown attempt from Cariaso but Moraga stuffs it and forces him into the fence. They break off and Cariaso glances with the high kick again. Body kick does connect, though. Another one follows as Moraga stalks forward. Good left counter by Moraga as he tries it again. Right hand lands to the body for Moraga. Good left hook follows. Good combo answers for Cariaso. Exchange continues until the round ends with a nice combination from Cariaso. Close round but I’d lean towards Moraga.
Round Two and they exchange with Cariaso trying to land a couple of flurries. He continues to throw the left kick, too. Right hand connects to the body for Moraga. Head kick glances for him too. Head kick answers for Cariaso. He’s beginning to back Moraga up a bit more in this round. Clinch from Cariaso and they muscle for position. Moraga forces him into the fence, where they exchange knees. Heavy elbow and knee break off for Moraga, but Cariaso fires back with a combo. Moraga grabs him to attempt the uber-rare standing arm triangle but Cariaso escapes and goes for the high kick again. Moraga blocks and lands a left hand counter. Good leg kick from Cariaso. Nice body kick from Cariaso but Moraga catches the leg and counters with a leg kick. Left head kick lands flush for Cariaso but Moraga takes it. Leg kick follows for Cariaso. Cariaso keeps on flurrying, but Moraga manages to grab him and throws him to the ground. Cariaso immediately looks to pull him into guard for a triangle attempt, but Moraga stands up and leans over him. Back up and the action has slowed down a bit now. Head kick is blocked again by Moraga. Clinch from Cariaso and he manages to hit a trip into Moraga’s guard with seconds remaining. Elbow lands for Cariaso and that’s the round. 10-9 Cariaso.
Round Three and this is anyone’s fight. They circle and Cariaso throws the left high kick again and then avoids one from Moraga. Moraga comes back with a good combination and stuffs a takedown attempt. Another combo lands for Moraga and he backs Cariaso up. Cariaso looks for a takedown, but leaves his head open and Moraga grabs onto a guillotine, then switches it up to a front choke variant and forces Cariaso down to his knees with his back to the cage, and Cariaso has to tap out there.
Beautiful submission from John Moraga and it was enough to secure him a title shot, which surprised me but I guess 125lbs is a small division. Fight was so-so as they never really went at it with a crazy pace, but it had a nice finish at least.
Featherweight Fight: Max Holloway vs Leonard Garcia
Originally this would’ve seen Garcia taking on Cody McKenzie in what actually sounded to me like a winnable fight for him, but when Cody dropped with an injury, young prospect Holloway stepped in, fresh off a phenomenal win over Justin Lawrence in August. With Holloway’s game being based around a sharp striking game I figured he’d be able to outpoint the wilder Garcia and most likely send him packing from the UFC.
First round and they circle with Holloway clearly looking to use his kicks to maintain distance from the shorter Garcia. Good leg kick lands for Garcia, though. Holloway continues to kick although he hasn’t landed anything flush yet. Spinning kick lands to the body for Holloway. Nice combo from Holloway and he drops Garcia with a left, but Leonard pops right up. Spinning back kick to the body from Holloway and then he backs up rather than flurry further. More kicks follow and Garcia can’t seem to close him down. Chopping leg kick from Holloway. Big right hand misses for Garcia but he does force Holloway backwards. Leg kick connects for him too. Left to the body from Garcia. Nice counter combo from Holloway ending with a short left hook. Big combination answers for Leonard. Right hook follows and wobbles Holloway’s legs, and sure enough he wades in swinging haymakers, but can’t catch Holloway cleanly again. One-two lands for Garcia. Nice spinning back kick to the body from Holloway. Wild punches miss for Garcia but he does land a jab. Left hook tags Garcia in an exchange. This has been a great round. Combo lands for Holloway and a spinning back kick follows. Garcia’s got a bit of a bloody nose. Clinch and Garcia lands a series of rights and a straight left. Combo puts Max on the run, but he fires back with a right hook to end the round. Garcia misses a wheel kick on the buzzer. 10-9 Holloway but Garcia did look good too.
Second round and they trade some glancing strikes with Holloway throwing some big kicks that Leonard just about avoids. Couple of jabs from Garcia back the young gun up a bit. Beautiful combo from Holloway snaps Garcia’s head back. Wild hooks glance for Garcia. Left to the body follows by a chopping leg kick from Holloway but Garcia counters with a crazy hook and a body kick. Left from Garcia but Holloway comes back with a leg kick. Takedown attempt from Garcia after a Holloway leg kick and he dumps Max to the ground in full guard. Nice reversal from Holloway and he’s back on his feet. They break off and Garcia lands a heavy leg kick. Exchange sees both men land with right hands. Wild hooks from Garcia but he does connect on a body shot. Garcia is beginning to draw Holloway into a bit of a brawl here which probably isn’t a good idea for him. Garcia is beginning to swing wild now but Holloway looks a bit tired and his movement isn’t as good as it was in the first. Big looping left tags Holloway and forces him to clinch, but Leonard breaks quickly. Both guys are swinging now. Round ends with an exchange from the clinch, both men landing. 10-9 Garcia and he’s dragging Holloway into his world now.
Third round and the exchange continues before Holloway manages to dodge a swing and land a nice leg kick. He’s moving a little better again now as Garcia chases forward. Heavy knee lands for Holloway. Wild combination connects for Garcia. Holloway lands a couple of counters and there’s a lot of blood coming from Garcia’s nose now. Huge spinning backfist misses for Garcia and Holloway comes back with a spinning back kick to the body. Nasty left to the body from Garcia and he doubles up on it. Big combo follows and Holloway is backing up big time now. Leonard is just walking through Holloway’s counters now and throwing BOMBS. Crowd are way into this as Holloway decides to fight fire with fire and swings right back, landing with a heavy right hand. Garcia keeps on wading in though and then drops for a surprising takedown attempt. He gets it and Holloway ends up in guard, but goes for a kimura. Leonard avoids and passes into half-guard. Scramble from Holloway allows him to his feet but he eats a knee on the break. Holloway is looking exhausted and bloodied. Good leg kick lands for him but Garcia comes back with one of his own and a right cross. Big uppercut glances for Leonard. Holloway comes back with a combo and they brawl wildly for a second again. This is becoming a great fight. BIG SHOTS land for both men in a crazy trade. Both guys are gassed big time now. They clinch and continue to exchange from there before breaking off. Both men seem to have lost the sting in their punches now due to tiredness but they’re STILL SWINGING. Takedown from Garcia but Holloway looks for a triangle. Garcia postures out and lands a short powerbomb (!) and that’s the fight. I think I have this 29-28 Leonard Garcia!
Judges score it 29-28 Holloway, 29-28 Garcia and 29-28….for Max Holloway to take the split decision. Damn, you know what? I actually think Leonard Garcia got dicked by the judges there and I NEVER thought in a million years that I’d type that. Instant karma gonna get you I guess! Awesome fight though as they started with a technical kickboxing exchange and then it just degenerated into the type of wild brawl that Garcia loves, and that’s when he started to take over really as Holloway gassed, probably due to taking the bout on short notice. Regardless of the dodgy decision this was great.
Heavyweight Fight: Todd Duffee vs Phil De Fries
Believe it or not, outside of the main event this was the fight that had me most hyped on this card, basically because I’ve been a total fanboy of Duffee’s since prior to his UFC debut and after his weird release in 2010 I’ve been desperate to see him back in the big leagues. Two years and only two fights (a loss to Alistair Overeem and a KO of Neil Grove) and he was back, taking on British grappler De Fries as a replacement for Matt Mitrione. Naturally I was picking Duffee here as not only did he sound like a bad match for De Fries, but I mean, he’s TODDDUFFEE!~!
Fight begins and Duffee walks right out and drops De Fries with a leg kick before opening up with a flurry as the Brit gets up. Big knees land and De Fries is in trouble right away. He manages to slow Todd up a bit by clinching, and then goes for a takedown and gets it. Duffee immediately scrambles and looks to get to his feet, but as he does, De Fries lands on him with some big right hands! Duffee manages to get up, but they’re still in the clinch. De Fries continues to look for the takedown but Duffee manages to shake him off and force the Brit into the fence. They break off and Duffee glances on a one-two. De Fries comes forward but eats a heavy uppercut and stumbles back, and Duffee follows with a HUGE RIGHT HOOK! BIG FLURRY follows and sends De Fries crashing down, and that’ll do it.
Man, that was a wildly exciting fight and Duffee actually weathered a bit of a storm before turning De Fries’ lights out with some absolutely ruthless punching power. I still maintain the guy can be a contender at Heavyweight and I’m so, so glad he’s back in the UFC where he belongs, even if he’s been injured since this fight. Phenomenal knockout.
Lightweight Fight: Myles Jury vs Michael Johnson
Battle of TUFers here with Season 13 and 15’s Jury taking on Season 12’s runner-up in Johnson. I wasn’t sure who to pick to be honest as Jury hadn’t really had a chance to show much in the UFC to this point although he had a great reputation prior to entering the promotion, while Johnson had seemed hit-and-miss throughout his UFC tenure. I ended up going with Johnson basically because he’d managed to beat Tony Ferguson (albeit a one-armed El Cucuy) and I really rate Tony highly.
Round One and they circle and throw out some feeler strikes to begin, looking to find their range. Leg kick connects for Johnson and Jury almost catches it. Crowd begin to get a bit annoyed as we’re about 90 seconds in with very little action thus far. Finally Jury hits a nice level change and double legs Johnson to the ground, landing in half-guard. Jury passes into full mount, but Johnson immediately hip escapes back to half-guard. Beautiful job from Jury though as he spins to take the back and then begins to land punches from half-guard. He works for the mount again and gets it, and from there he begins to land some BOMBS and Johnson looks in deep trouble. You could consider stopping this even as Johnson isn’t really defending intelligently. He does manage to regain half-guard though which slows down Jury’s assault. More punches connect for Jury though and he throws in some short elbows now for good measure. Johnson is getting OWNED. One minute to go and Jury looks like he might be setting up a kimura on the right arm. Johnson manages to avoid it, but he can’t get out from underneath Jury who drops some more elbows and gets to full mount again. BIG SHOTS land for Jury and Johnson desperately tries to cover up. He gives the back and Jury locks up a choke, but the buzzer sounds before he can finish. 10-8 for Myles Jury.
Round Two and Johnson comes out with a bit more urgency, but Jury avoids his range and circles on the outside nicely. High kick glances for Jury. Left hand glances for Johnson. Head kick lands for Jury. Jury is doing a great job of just about staying out of range of Johnson’s strikes. Leg kick lands for Johnson. Jury fires back with a head kick that Johnson blocks. Jury catches a kick and turns it into a single leg, dropping Johnson onto his back in guard. Johnson tries to just hold on and stall from his back as Jury works to pass, posturing up to drop a couple of heavy elbows. Jury is looking like a beast here, doing plenty of damage even inside Johnson’s guard. More ground-and-pound follows and the round ends soon after. 10-9 Jury but still a dominant round.
Round Three and Johnson comes out swinging, throwing some hard left hooks at Jury before stuffing a low single leg. Couple of punches glance but Jury proves to be a tricky target to hit, and he closes the distance into the clinch, forcing Johnson into the fence. Beautiful trip takedown follows and Jury’s back on top in half-guard. Looks like he might have a possible arm triangle as he works to pass, but the fence gets in the way a bit. He does manage to move into side mount, though. He looks for a kimura, but can’t quite trap the arm and ends up in half-guard again. Jury is passing like a knife through butter though, landing elbows as he does so. Johnson just can’t do a thing with this guy. Elbows connect for Jury and he’s practically got full mount now. More punches connect as Johnson can only cover up. Jury continues his assault while trying to pass, but Johnson does manage to retain half-guard at least. Less than a minute to go now and Jury just keeps on pounding. Big shots connect for Jury before Johnson manages to just about get to his feet on the buzzer. 10-8 Jury and I’ve got this 30-25 for him.
Official scorecards read 30-27 all round for Myles Jury. Incredible that he didn’t get at least one 10-8 but whatever, no problem. This was a stellar performance from Jury and a real eye-opener to me as while Johnson isn’t top ten or anything he’s a perfectly capable, UFC-calibre fighter and he got TOOLED from start to finish there; Jury never allowed him to do a thing standing due to his range and footwork and on the ground he thoroughly whitewashed him. At just 24 this guy could definitely develop into a legit contender and he’s certainly one to watch.
Lightweight Fight: Jamie Varner vs Melvin Guillard
As I mentioned earlier this one was initially scheduled for the TUF 16 Finale, but got moved to this card when Varner got sick. For what it’s worth Guillard had come right out and said he thought Varner was ducking him, which gave the fight a bit of a personal slant (and was a bit silly too; if he were ducking why would he take the fight like two weeks later?) for good measure. I was taking Melvin because I thought he’d be able to stuff Varner’s takedown and catch him standing.
Fight begins and they circle with Melvin landing a couple of early leg kicks. Varner comes back with one of his own and just avoids a counter right from Guillard. Crowd begin to boo a little as Guillard picks at him with a couple more shots before Varner glances on a haymaker right hand and forces him to back up. Clinch is avoided by Melvin. Melvin connects on a jab and another leg kick. Really heavy leg kick connects for Guillard and he avoids a right hand. Body kick follows. Varner is fighting really passively so far. Left hand glances for Guillard. Another leg kick connects too. Good combo from Varner with about 1:20 remaining but Melvin seems fine. Left hand sets up a takedown attempt for Varner but Melvin stuffs it nicely. Jab and another leg kick land for Melvin and they seem to be beginning to take their toll now. Varner comes right back with a combination though and then drops Melvin for a second with a left hook! He pops up and Varner keeps on flurrying, then manages to take Melvin down and almost secure a guillotine. Super-close round but I think Varner took it right at the end there. 10-9 Varner.
Into the 2nd and Varner clips him with an early right hand. Hard leg kick from Melvin but Varner glances on a counter right. Double leg from Varner and he gets Melvin down on his back, stretching out the left leg with his own legs to keep him firmly grounded. Good punches from Varner and he takes the back in a scramble, but Melvin hits a sick move and throws him right over his shoulder! Varner spins and goes for a single leg, but this time Guillard locks up a guillotine. He releases it as they stand and separates with a hard knee. Big right cross glances for Varner. Leg kick from Guillard answers. Head kick follows but Varner takes it and flurries on him. Melvin avoids the brunt of it though and lands with another leg kick and a jab. Really good combination connects for Varner and backs Melvin up, but he fires back with an uppercut. Varner is beginning to land on him again here. Takedown follows and he plants Melvin on his back next to the fence. This time Varner practically passes to mount, but Melvin still has his back to the cage and he looks to use it to escape. He gets to his feet but Varner stays on him and breaks with a combo. Couple of good jabs and a leg kick land for Guillard. HARD right hand comes over the top from Varner and cracks Melvin but he takes it well. Hard body kick from Melvin but Varner lands with a kick to the groin at the same time. Ref quickly calls time as Varner stops to apologise anyway. They restart quite quickly though and Varner swings some combinations, but Guillard avoids and lands a body kick. Leg kick follows. Round ends with Melvin landing a counter jumping knee to the body. Competitive round there. I’d lean towards Guillard I think but you could go either way really.
Third and final round of what has been a really entertaining fight. Flying knee opens up for Guillard but doesn’t land flush. Big kick follows and Varner grabs the leg for a single, but Melvin shows sick balance to avoid. Jabs from Melvin but Varner clocks him with a counter right and then shoots and manages to get him down this time. Melvin winds up seated against the fence and he takes some solid shots from Varner from the top. Looks like he might be setting up for a submission and sure enough he goes for the Peruvian necktie, but Melvin slips out and takes top position in guard for the first time in the fight. Varner’s shin looks cut badly somehow. Melvin moves into half-guard and lands some short punches, but Varner escapes to his feet. Knee to the body lands for Melvin; answered by a right hand from Varner. They separate and then Varner tackles him to the ground again. He works Melvin over with some short punches from the guard, before Melvin explodes up to his feet using the fence. Varner grabs a rear waistlock but loses it and they separate. Two minutes to go now and both guys look a little tired. Nice double leg from Varner plants Melvin on his back once more. Short hammer fists from Varner before Melvin tries an armbar, and when Varner avoids Melvin hits a reversal into side mount! Varner escapes to his knees and Melvin tries to hold a headlock, but a sick switch from Varner allows him to get back on top in the guard. Nice punches from Varner now but Melvin kicks him away and stands. Seconds remaining now and Melvin comes in swinging with a pair of wild hooks but doesn’t land cleanly. Takedown attempt from Varner but he runs right into a hard knee to the body, and Guillard follows with some solid punches. Varner responds by SCOOPING HIM UP AND HITTING THE SHEAMUS WHITE NOISE!~! WORRRRRD! Melvin lands on his head but turns THAT into a f------ leg scissor choke, but the buzzer sounds before anything else crazy can follow. Incredible ending. I have this 29-28 for Jamie Varner.
Judges officially score it 30-27 Varner, 30-27 Guillard (!) and 30-27 for Jamie Varner to pick up the split decision. Well, the judge who scored it 30-27 for Guillard needs his f------ eyes testing and should never judge again – I mean, you could potentially argue 29-28 for Guillard as the first two rounds were sort-of close but the third was clearly Varner’s and to suggest otherwise would be ludicrous. Right man got the nod anyway thankfully. Fight started slowly but warmed up and became an excellent fight by the end with as crazy an ending as I can remember seeing in 2012. He might not win them all but I could happily watch Guillard fight all day and so I hope he’s always got a spot in the UFC.
Bantamweight Fight: Erik Perez vs Byron Bloodworth
After a successful (if controversial) UFC debut in June and a subsequent highlight reel KO of Ken Stone at UFC 150, the word was that Zuffa wanted to push Perez as a star to the Latino crowd, as he wears a Luchador mask to the Octagon and stuff like that. That would probably explain why he was matched with Bloodworth here, a guy who had come in as a late replacement for a fight in October 2011 and hadn’t fought since. Looked like a squash on paper.
Round One and El Goyito comes out swinging, and Bloodworth obliges and returns fire. Clinch from Perez and he lands some knees to the body before forcing Byron into the fence. Crowd are chanting loudly for Perez – I’m guessing they’re the Latino crowd here to see Cain Velasquez. More knees to the body follow for Perez. Bloodworth reverses position though and lands some knees of his own. Perez switches it back and continues to work from inside the clinch. BIG KNEE to the body folds Bloodworth and he goes down, and Perez quickly follows with some bombs as Byron manages to secure guard. Perez continues to drop punches and elbows though as Bloodworth tries desperately to tie him up. More shots land for El Goyito and he’s working the body now as well. Big elbows connect for Perez and Bloodworth looks like he’s in trouble. Big shot cuts Bloodworth open and Perez continues to pound away until he turns onto his side. Referee Kim Winslow’s seen enough there and that’s that.
Impressive win for Erik Perez but realistically Bloodworth probably wasn’t quite UFC level so how he’ll do against top level opposition is still a question mark. Dude is a good prospect to watch though and you certainly cannot fault his aggression as he’s been the predator in all three of his UFC fights now. Entertaining stoppage. Post-fight Perez cuts his promo with Joe Rogan in his lucha mask to really get the crowd behind him. If he can keep winning he’s a big star for sure.
Bantamweight Fight: Eddie Wineland vs Brad Pickett
This one probably should’ve made the main card in place of Leben/Brunson but I guess UFC like to have a really good fight as the ‘main’ on the televised prelims and so this was it. On paper this sounded like a genuinely awesome fight between two top ten Bantamweights, and the word was that the winner could be in line for a title shot or at least a title eliminator in their next fight. British bias made me pick Brad, duh.
Round One and Pickett opens with a low leg kick as they circle around. Both men throw out some feeler strikes and Pickett keeps ducking down to throw a left hook. He walks right into a sharp counter from Wineland though. Good right hand from Wineland. Left hand connects for Pickett. Another right counter cracks Pickett coming forward. Big right hook glances for Pickett. Nice right hook lands clean this time for Pickett and he follows in with a combo, but Wineland counters with a NASTY right uppercut into a right hook that drops the Brit to a knee! Another right connects but Pickett seems okay and fires back with some punches of his own. Leg kick from Pickett. Good right to the body from Wineland. Exchange continues and again Wineland catches Pickett with a vicious counter and drops him, but the Brit pops right back up. Pickett has a sick chin. He’s looking marked up though. Takedown attempt from Pickett and he drives Wineland into the fence, but Eddie does a good job of stuffing it and circles out. Pickett continues to be the aggressor, but he’s continually walking into sharper, cleaner counters from Wineland. Good right does connect over the top for the Brit though and he follows with one to the body. Round ends with another nice exchange. Good opening round. 10-9 Wineland.
Round Two and they pick up right where they left off, with Pickett coming in with some jabs and a sweet left hook. Wineland tags him again with a counter right though. He seems to have his timing down a little better than Pickett’s in this fight. Another hard counter lands for Wineland but this time Pickett lands a counter of his own. Left hook from Wineland. This is basically a boxing match which is pretty rare to see in the UFC. Neither man seems to be thinking takedown. Combo glances for Wineland and Pickett lands with a right to the body. Pickett finally changes things up with a leg kick. Crowd begin to get restless for no good reason about halfway through the round which doesn’t make sense as these guys are clearly working hard. HEAVY exchange sees both men show they have great chins as both land with hard shots. Stats appear to give Wineland a slight advantage which I’d agree with. Sharp right connects for Wineland. He’s doing a good job of slipping Pickett’s punches. Good left hook catches the Brit coming forward. Pickett answers with a left hook of his own. Looks like Wineland’s cut over his right eye. Round ends with a pair of hard rights from Pickett, answered by one from Wineland. 10-9 Wineland.
Round Three and Pickett lands a nice left hand coming forward. Pickett appears to have a cut on his chest which is odd. He pushes forward but still can’t get a handle on Wineland who is still using his movement to move out of range and land counters on the Brit. Good leg kick from Pickett. Pair of sharp right counters land for Wineland. Right hand connects for Pickett. Really hard leg kick lands and buckles Wineland’s left leg. Some jabs land for Pickett and bloody Wineland’s nose, but Wineland stays on his bike and looks to continue to counter. Nice counter right lands for Wineland and he catches a kick to land another counter. Big exchange but both men only glance with big punches. Left hook from Pickett. Exchange continues and Brad lands with a left to the body. One minute to go and Pickett really starts swinging, clipping Wineland with a left hook but not really hurting him. Wineland continues to counter but he hasn’t landed as heavily as he did in the earlier rounds. Round ends with a combination from Pickett. Closer round but even if you give that to Pickett it’s a win for Wineland regardless in my eyes.
Judges score it 30-27 Wineland, 29-28 Pickett and 30-27 for Eddie Wineland to pick up the decision. Definitely the right call and I’m unsure how you’d score that fight for Pickett to be honest unless you REALLY value aggression without doing much damage. Fun fight for the most part although it was a little frustrating to see neither man change up the gameplan – particularly Pickett when it became clear he was being largely outboxed. Big win for Wineland though as I thought Pickett would be the better striker and I was proven wrong.
Middleweight Fight: Derek Brunson vs Chris Leben
Leben was coming back from a year-long drug suspension here and was initially pegged to fight wrestler-brawler Karlos Vemola, but when the Czech got injured StrikeForce import Brunson stepped in, moving over to the UFC about a month earlier than the promotion closed its doors. With Brunson being a one-dimensional wrestler who had been KOd by Jacare in his previous outing, I was taking Leben despite the worries about his health.
First round begins with Leben pressing forward as Brunson throws some strikes to gauge the distance. Leben catches a kick and clinches, but Brunson manages to trip him down into full guard. Leben stays active from his back, but Brunson stacks up to pass and gets into half-guard for a second. Good job from Leben to regain full guard but he takes a couple of elbows from the StrikeForce import. Triangle attempt from Leben but Brunson shakes free and passes into half-guard. Again though Leben recovers full guard. Short punches and elbows from Brunson and again he avoids a triangle to pass into side mount. Leben catches him in half-guard as he tries to mount, but Brunson does a good job of sliding into full mount and he tries an arm triangle. Leben avoids, but Brunson remains in control and lands some nice elbows before Leben catches him in half-guard. Joe Rogan is so much on Leben’s nuts here it’s ridiculous as Brunson is easily winning this fight right now. He continues to land some short punches and elbows before Leben gets back to full guard. Really good ground-and-pound from Brunson now before Leben manages to use the fence to escape to his feet. Brunson stays on him though before Leben breaks with a knee to end the round. 10-9 Brunson.
Second round and Brunson’s looking a bit tired. Leben pushes forward and swings the left hand but Brunson stays out of range. Takedown attempt from Brunson but Leben defends initially. Brunson forces him back into the fence though and looks for a trip, landing some knees to the body for good measure. Brunson tries to muscle Leben to the ground, but Leben does a good job of defending and he breaks off. Leben pushes in with strikes but a low double leg from Brunson plants him on the ground in full guard. Brunson appears to be exhausted. Leben lands a couple of elbows from his back and works to his feet, and easily avoids a guillotine attempt from Brunson. Leben comes forward again and connects on an uppercut as Brunson whiffs on a left hand. Takedown attempt is easily stuffed by Leben. Pair of leg kicks from Leben. Leben continues to come forward but he takes a one-two from Brunson. Leg kick answers. Nice left hand from Brunson. Leben is looking tired here too. Takedown attempt from Brunson and he forces Leben back into the fence once more. Leben stuffs it though and they separate. This fight is looking pretty bad now. Sloppy, tired exchange follows with Leben pushing forward but not really landing clean. Another takedown attempt from Brunson follows but Leben stuffs it again. They wind up clinched on the fence with seconds to go before breaking. Crowd are booing now as Brunson lands a left hook to end the round. Awful. 10-9 Brunson I guess but the round stunk.
Third round begins with some more slow strikes as Leben pushes forward. Left uppercut glances for Brunson and he follows with a double leg attempt, but Leben stuffs it and separates with an elbow. These guys just have no steam in their punches at all. Takedown from Brunson and he gets it this time into half-guard .Leben immediately looks to escape from the bottom and then gets to full guard. Leben works to escape to his feet, but Joe Rogan sums it up by saying he looks like he’s walking in sand. Couple of leg kicks and lefts from Leben but Brunson just circles out. This is f------ awful. Sloppy exchange continues and Brunson is just backpedalling for the most part here. Leben stuffs another takedown and the fight continues to run in slow motion. Crowd are raining down with boos now and quite rightly so. Left hand does connect for Leben but he seems to have zero power in his punches. One minute to go and he does swing, but Brunson tackles him to the ground in full guard. Nothing happens from there and an illegal upkick connects for Leben and gains him a warning. Slow punches again from Leben but he can’t do much and that’s that, thank God. 10-9 Brunson in a dire little fight.
Judges all score it 29-28 for Derek Brunson, but let’s be frank, this fight absolutely stunk the joint out and didn’t belong on PPV by any stretch of the imagination, not when you’ve got Pickett vs. Wineland and Varner vs. Guillard on the prelims. Terrible decision by someone right there. Let’s not speak of this crap again.
Middleweight Fight: Yushin Okami vs Alan Belcher
This one was a rematch from both men’s UFC debut back at UFC 62 in August 2006. Back then Okami had used his clinch game and grappling to control Belcher to a decision but this time I was going the other way, especially after seeing Okami get KOd by Tim Boetsch and get tagged by Buddy Roberts before TKOing him and seeing Belcher absolutely smash Toquinho in his previous fight in May.
Round One and Belcher bounces around on the outside looking to strike, landing a couple of glancing blows. Okami comes back with a couple of straight lefts, but Belcher stays out of range. Body kick misses for Belcher and Okami counters with a jab that knocks him down, but obviously he was off balance. Okami follows by clinching and forcing him into the fence. Good knee to the body from Okami and he continues to control Belcher on the fence. Crowd begin to boo before Okami botches a trip and Belcher wins up on top, where he looks for a guillotine. He drops to full guard, but loses the choke and switches to attempt the rubber guard. Okami postures out and settles in on top. He passes into half-guard and then works into side mount, and you can hear Belcher breathing pretty heavily from underneath. Belcher tries to squirm free, but Okami keeps him down and looks to take the back as the round ends. 10-9 Okami.
Round Two and Belcher throws a couple of kicks, looking surprisingly chilled. Okami wastes no time in clinching and forces him right into the fence. Trip takedown from Okami but Belcher lands on top and again looks for the guillotine and pulls guard. Okami escapes and once more he’s on top in half-guard. Okami continues to control him with some steady ground-and-pound, and to be frank this is pretty dull. He passes into side mount and Belcher just looks lost from his back. Ref calls a questionable stand-up with Okami in a dominant position, and Belcher lands with a right hand and tries a head kick that misses. Okami walks through an exchange though and goes for a single leg. Belcher defends, but Okami transitions to a rear waistlock and drags him to the ground. Belcher turns into half-guard, and things slow down from there so the ref calls another stand-up. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Okami.
Round Three and Belcher rushes in and Okami almost gets another takedown, but this time Belcher avoids and then tags him with a right on an exchange, knocking him down for a second before Okami pops right back up. Okami fires back with the left hand a few times and backs Belcher up again, and once again he clinches and forces him into the fence. Trip follows but again Belcher lands on top, this time in full mount! Okami stands and Belcher takes the back in an odd position, almost clinging on like a koala. Okami shakes him off and now Belcher grabs a standing guillotine, then drops to guard to attempt the finish, but it doesn’t look tight to me and Okami seems fine. He pops out and he’s on top in guard again. Into half-guard quickly and Okami continues to smother him with forearms and short punches. Full mount follows and he’s in firm control. Punches land for Okami but he doesn’t seem bothered about finishing. He takes the back when Belcher rolls though, and looks to flatten him out. Belcher manages to hold on despite taking punches and that’s it. 10-9 Okami and a total shutout overall for him.
Judges all agree; 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Yushin Okami. Fight was basically the same as their fight in 2006 as Belcher couldn’t do anything with Okami’s clinch and ground control and never came close to using his explosive striking game. The first time around it was dull and unfortunately, this one followed the same pattern. Not exactly the best fight to follow the even worse Leben/Brunson mess.
Middleweight Fight: Constantinos Philippou vs Tim Boetsch
When Weidman dropped from this fight Philippou was as good a replacement as they could’ve gotten basically, as he’d been on a tear of his own – picking up four wins in a row over solid opposition – and the time was certainly right for him to make the step up in competition. Despite Boetsch’s pair of huge wins (over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard) this was my choice for an upset on the card, as I just couldn’t quite buy Boetsch as a legit top five talent and I think his wrestling’s a little understated, and if he couldn’t get Philippou down then I thought he’d be outgunned standing for sure as Costa has a great boxing game.
First round and Boetsch pushes forward, closes the distance and forces Costa into the fence. Knee to the body from Boetsch and he looks like he’s going for the takedown. Good knees inside from Boetsch and he drops low for a single, but Philippou shows some good defence. Boetsch manages to get him down, but Costa immediately wall-walks up to his feet. They exchange some knees and the crowd begin to boo a little before Philippou lands a knee to the body to separate. Front kick to the body from Boetsch. Inside leg kick from Boetsch and he avoids a combination from Philippou. Nice overhand right lands for Costa, set up by a left to the body. Leg kick into a combo from Boetsch but he walks into a heavy right uppercut. Boetsch manages to clinch though and forces Costa into the fence. This time Philippou separates quickly, but Boetsch follows with a takedown to guard. Boetsch grinds on him from the top, but a quick stand-up from referee Kim Winslow follows. Good body kick from Philippou and he opens up with a combo that has Boetsch backing up. Boetsch looks okay though and comes forward with a front kick to the face that drops Costa for a second, and that’s the round. 10-9 Boetsch.
Into the 2nd and the announcers are saying they think Boetsch is injured somehow although they’re not sure how. They exchange punches and Boetsch shakes his hand out right away as it becomes clear that he’s probably broken his hand and that’s the issue. Clinch from Boetsch and he forces Costa into the fence. They break off and Boetsch manages to close in with a pair of right hooks, then lands a nice knee before separating. Boetsch looks like he’s cut badly on the forehead from something, as there’s blood pouring down his face now. Nice right hand connects for Philippou. Joe Rogan claims it was an accidental headbutt that caused the cut. Boetsch’s right hand is clearly jacked. Takedown attempt from Boetsch but Philippou stuffs it and separates. Good combo from Costa and Boetsch is bleeding badly. Accidental eye poke from Philippou and the ref calls time to let Boetsch recover. They restart and Philippou walks through a front kick to land a right hand. Philippou is the clear aggressor now and he avoids a clinch, but does take the front kick to the body. Takedown attempt from Boetsch is stuffed and he’s beginning to look tired. Another takedown is avoided by Philippou and this time Boetsch pulls guard. Costa gets into half-guard and lands some elbows and punches, but Boetsch gets to full guard. He’s bleeding really badly. Big punches connect for Philippou and Boetsch is having a really hard time of it. Into half-guard and he continues to pound away. Round ends with Philippou on top. 10-9 Philippou to even things up.
Third and final round and Boetsch is apparently having a hard time seeing due to the blood too. Low single attempt but Philippou sprawls to avoid and drops into the guard, landing some heavy punches while Boetsch tries to tie him up. Philippou lets him up and Boetsch shoots again, but again Costa sprawls, lands some punches to the head, and then stands. Boetsch is cut up in another spot now and he’s sporting the crimson mask. He takes a while to get to his feet too and he looks wobbly. Combo from Philippou and then Boetsch shoots and pulls half-guard again. Philippou immediately begins to drop some bombs, then stands. Boetsch’s face is a MESS. He shoots again but Philippou again stuffs it and drops some punches and hammer fists and this time the referee calls the fight.
Big win for Costa Philippou even if it was a bit of a weird one due to Boetsch’s cuts and broken hand. Still, he had a job to do and he did it and managed to put away an extremely tough guy, so big kudos to him. This one actually helped the 185lbs logjam in a lot of ways as it knocked Boetsch out of contention and Philippou was outright saying himself that he’s not near a title shot yet, leaving a bit more room at the top. Still, he’s a possible contender in 2014 I think if he can continue to develop. Not a bad fight at all but it hardly lit the crowd back up after the previous two stunk out the building.
Lightweight Fight: Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon
As I mentioned in the intro this initially would’ve seen Lauzon facing the toughest test in his career to date in Gray Maynard, but instead, well, he ended up facing the toughest test of his career anyway in Jim Miller who is only a slight step below Maynard in the great scheme of things. I figured it’d be an exciting fight, as all fights involving these two are, but I thought Miller would come away with his hand raised in the end due to a slight advantage basically everywhere.
Round One and both come out swinging combinations but it’s Miller that seems to be getting the better of the exchange early. Good leg kick sets up a heavy combo from Miller. Knee from the clinch for Jim but Lauzon breaks with an uppercut. Left hand connects for Miller. Good leg kick again sets up a VICIOUS COMBO from Miller and he opens up with some heavy punches and elbow strikes from close range. Left hand lands again for Miller and he follows with a body kick. Combination of left uppercuts and right hooks from Miller have Lauzon backing up, but he swings right back. Miller continues on the offensive though and lands with another flurry. Lauzon pushes forward but a big left connects for Miller and he follows with a knee and another series of slashing elbows and uppercuts. Lauzon looks busted wide open and badly hurt and so Miller goes for a standing arm triangle, but Lauzon breaks free. There’s a TON of blood coming from Lauzon’s face though and referee Yves Lavigne calls time to get him checked out once they separate. Lauzon also looks a bit wobbled. Doctor says he’s fine so they restart and Miller cracks him with another combo, so Lauzon goes for the takedown but Miller stuffs it. Head kick lands for Miller and he follows with some more elbow strikes and knees, but Lauzon fires back and forces him to back up a bit. Lauzon pushes in with a knee to slow him down a little, but he opens up again with another combo. Lauzon’s face is a horror movie. Another combo from Miller and he’s got Lauzon’s blood all over his upper body now. Right hand lands for Lauzon but Miller continues to crack him with the better strikes. Hard left hand wobbles Lauzon badly and he stumbles, but manages to cover up and fire back as Miller tries to finish. This is an incredible round. Round ends with both men swinging to a big pop. 10-9 Miller.
Cut is visible between rounds; it’s a large gash over Lauzon’s right eye.
Round Two and Miller pushes forward right away and lands a big combo to counter an inside leg kick. Lauzon to his credit just won’t stop coming forward. Takedown from Miller and he lands in Lauzon’s guard. This is one of the bloodiest fights I’ve ever seen. Big elbows land for Miller and Lauzon is gushing blood like a fire hydrant again. He tries to reverse and get to his feet, but Miller keeps him down and passes into half-guard. Looks like he’s working to pass that too, pushing down on the leg of Lauzon with his foot. Lauzon does a good job of blocking, but Miller eventually passes and mounts. Good job from Lauzon to quickly get back to half-guard, but Miller is still on top of him applying pressure with some elbows. He gets Lauzon’s right arm trapped with his legs to drop some more elbows. The amount of blood is pretty disgusting now. Miller tries a D’Arce choke, but Lauzon escapes and now he reverses to get on top in Miller’s guard! Big crowd pop for that. Ref calls time again to check over Lauzon’s cut and then decides he needs some scissors. This seems to take an AGE but it’s to cut some loose tape from Lauzon’s glove. They restart in the same position on the ground and Miller goes to rubber guard, but Lauzon stands and drops him with a short slam to break it off. Miller keeps it locked up though but then has to release to avoid Lauzon passing the guard. Into half-guard for Lauzon and he drops a couple of elbows before Miller looks to scramble back to guard. Lauzon continues to grind on him and then drops back for a heel hook, but Miller slips his leg free. Lauzon switches to a D’Arce attempt as Miller goes for the takedown, but the round ends there. 10-9 Miller but Lauzon was really game throughout, especially at the end of the round. Awesome fight.
Round Three and Miller drops Lauzon early with a hard inside leg kick. Lauzon fires right back with a kick to the body. They trade off with punches and both men land combinations. Looks like Miller might be a bit gassed. Lauzon lands with a good left to the body, but Miller drops him with another inside leg kick and he stays on his back trying to entice Miller into the guard. He’s having none of it and waves Lauzon up. Striking exchange continues and Miller gets the best of it with a combo but Lauzon is like the terminator and he WON’T STOP COMING FORWARD. They’re basically going shot-for-shot at this point too. Three minutes to go and Miller lands the inside leg kick again. Hard knee to the body from Lauzon and Miller clearly backs up. Big combo from Lauzon but Miller fires right back. This is AWESOME. Miller’s cut now under his left eye but he lands with another combination. Left hook into a pair of elbows from Miller. Both men look tired now. Low kick connects for Miller. Good right from close range lands for Lauzon and he continues to press forward. One minute to go and Miller connects with a left hand and another slashing elbow. Knee to the body from Lauzon. Crowd are going ballistic here. They trade off wildly before Lauzon goes for the RYO CHONAN DIVING SCISSOR HEEL HOOK!~! Looks like he might have an ankle lock instead as Miller goes down, but he manages to slide free. Lauzon grabs a guillotine in the scramble and goes for it, but the buzzer sounds there. Phenomenal stuff. I’ve got it 30-27 for Miller but holy s--- did Lauzon put up a hell of a fight.
Official scorecards are 29-28 all round for Jim Miller. This was, however, one of those rare fights where neither guy comes off looking like a loser, as they went to WAR for fifteen minutes and left it all in the cage. I legitimately have no idea how Lauzon survived the onslaught Miller brought in the first round and he’s got to be one of the toughest guys in all of MMA to be able to deal with a beating like the one he took in those five minutes, particularly with a cut as bad as that. This was an incredible fight, high-end FOTYC in fact and somehow it topped Lauzon’s OTHER FOTYC with Jamie Varner in August. Guy is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC even if he isn’t a legit title contender.
UFC World Heavyweight Title: unior Dos Santos vs Cain Velasquez
Despite both men only having fought once since their first, fateful meeting in November 2011, this rematch was immediately signed following Velasquez’s slaughter of Antonio Silva and JDS’s knockout of Frank Mir in May. No complaints from me as at this point it was pretty clear that these were the two best Heavyweights in the world – especially with the only other possible contender (Alistair Overeem) on the shelf due to a drug suspension. Although JDS had turned Cain’s lights out quickly in the first match I was actually going with Velasquez to regain his title here, mainly because I thought the knee injury he had in that first match really hampered his movement and he’d be able to impose his grappling game on JDS more in this fight. Undoubtedly though this was one of the biggest fights of 2012.
Staredown is pretty intense and the crowd are LOUD, obviously buying into this fight big time.
Round One and Cain immediately presses forward throwing punches before grabbing a single leg. Dos Santos goes down but pops right back up, but a bodylock from Cain allows him to bring him back down. JDS hits a reversal though and explodes back to his feet. Another wild takedown attempt from Cain from way on the outside is avoided. Cain keeps pushing the pace though, backing JDS up with punches and landing a glancing left. High kick misses for the challenger. JDS glances on a right hand but Cain hits him with a straight left and keeps pushing forward. Big chant for JDS as he lands a jab and a right before avoiding a takedown. Good leg kick from Cain to counter a right to the body. Good right from Cain and he drops for another takedown but again JDS defends. Good left hook to the body from Dos Santos. Cain comes back with a hard right. The pace Cain is pushing here is pretty crazy. Jab connects for the challenger. Couple more jabs follow. Takedown attempt is avoided but JDS appears to be breathing heavily. He’s trying to counter but the pressure Cain’s putting on him is pretty crazy. Knee to the body from Cain and he follows with a body kick. Jabs land for both men. Cain clinches and forces him into the fence, landing some short punches inside, before JDS breaks off. Good right hand from Cain and he follows with a leg kick. He just isn’t letting JDS settle at all. Big left hook from Cain and JDS has to grab him for a clinch. Left hook to the body and head break and JDS is clearly struggling to cope with the pace. BRUTAL RIGHT CROSS from Cain sends Junior DOWN HARD and he’s in deep trouble! Big shots follow but somehow JDS gets up. Cain drags him right back down and continues to pound him from the back mount with one hook. Dos Santos is almost done here. More punches from Cain and Herb Dean is taking a close look. He gets up but Cain forces him right back down and keeps on punishing him. JDS can’t get up at all here. More punches from the challenger but JDS does just enough to survive the round. That was a massacre. 10-8 Cain Velasquez and JDS can barely wobble over to his corner.
Round Two and Dos Santos is gasping for breath coming out of his corner. Cain wades right in with a HUGE COMBO and then drops for a takedown and slams the champion to the ground. JDS gives his back and turtles up, but Cain just rides him and continues to land punches. JDS tries to get half-guard but he’s taking more shots from there and Cain spins in the scramble to stay in firm control. They come back to their feet but Cain stays on him and hits a double leg to plant him back down. Crowd are absolutely deafening. JDS ends up flat on his stomach with Cain controlling him, and the challenger lands more punches. JDS works his way to his feet and manages a clinch, but Cain breaks off and comes in with another combination. JDS is wobbled and backpedalling. Single leg from Cain and he gets JDS down once more to land more punches. Big hammer fists connect to the side of JDS’s head and he can’t get up at all. More punches from Cain as JDS manages to fight back to his feet, but he takes a knee to the body and then a heavy left from the clinch. Another outside trip plants him back down and into half-guard. Elbows from Velasquez and JDS’s face is a mess. Full mount attempt from Cain but JDS reverses, only for Velasquez to go into an armbar attempt! JDS somehow manages to slip his arm out and get on top, but Cain pops back up and nails him with a right cross. JDS manages to defend the takedown this time, but he can’t get Cain off him and the challenger lands more shots from inside the clinch. Hard one-two from Cain as he breaks the clinch for a second. Another big combination follows. JDS tries to fire back but he’s got no snap in his punches. Again he reaches the end of the round, but again it was absolute domination from Cain Velasquez; 10-8 again in my eyes in fact as Junior literally did nothing but defend.
Round Three and Junior is almost unrecognizable facially now. Cain walks right into an uppercut, but it has no effect and he keeps pushing in with combinations. Another uppercut glances for the champion and he lands to the body too, but Cain lands a low single leg and plants him onto the ground by the fence. JDS does a good job of getting up, but Cain stays on him and works him over in the clinch. Low single leg attempt from the challenger, but JDS defends it this time. Junior manages to separate and takes a HUGE breath, but Cain closes the gap right away. Good left inside from Junior and he breaks again. Left to the body follows for the challenger but Cain comes in with a left jab and a big right cross that snaps Dos Santos’ head back. He grabs a clinch, but Cain lands some more shots from inside. Hard left hand inside from Junior but Cain replies with an elbow and drops for a takedown. JDS avoids, but Cain comes back in with a left uppercut. Big shots to the body from Cain and they break. Left to the body from JDS. Another clinch from Cain follows but JDS breaks with a big knee this time. Cain comes right back though and absolutely LEATHERS him with a combo, snapping his head all over the place. JDS has an incredible chin to take this punishment. Body kick from Cain and he continues to push the pace and walk the Brazilian down. Big combo lands inside for the challenger. Junior actually switches position and goes for a takedown, but Cain trips him down with a whizzer. JDS gets back up, but he’s exhausted and can’t stop Cain from clinching again. Brutal combo from Cain ending in a right hook. JDS can barely keep his hands up now. They break with seconds to go and a huge right hand just misses for JDS. Uppercut does land but Cain walks through it. Round ends on the feet. 10-9 Velasquez.
Round Four and it’s amazing JDS has made it this far really. Cain comes in with a single leg but can’t get it and JDS clips him with an odd back elbow. Head kick glances for Cain and he keeps on coming. Big right hand into a leg kick from the challenger. JDS is beginning to clip him with some punches now but he’s seemingly got no power. Clinch again from Cain and he lands some short punches but JDS breaks with a left to the body. Cain continues to wade forward and JDS is winging punches from his waist now. Takedown from Cain but JDS pops back up. Knee to the body from Cain, answered by an elbow from JDS. Big right cross from Cain on the break and he goes for a single leg. JDS stuffs it, and manages to reverse position and force Cain into the fence. Haymaker misses from JDS on the break and Cain drops for a low single leg and gets it this time, putting him down in half-guard. JDS turns onto his side to attempt to get up, but he takes some shots for his troubles. Back up and back into the clinch and JDS’s face is absolutely mangled. Body punch into an uppercut from Cain and he has JDS on the run with a pair of hard rights. Back elbow from Junior answers but Cain just leans on him again. This is an incredible performance from Cain Velasquez. They break off with two minutes remaining and Cain lands a stiff jab and continues with the relentless pressure. Junior has the heart of a lion though to be still in this fight. Cain continues to work him over from the clinch, but Junior breaks with a right. Uppercut connects as Cain comes forward, but it seems to have no effect as the challenger clinches again and then drops for a single leg. JDS manages to stuff it well, and lands a left to the body. Left hook from Cain and he clinches to end the round. 10-9 Velasquez.
Round Five and after the first, who would’ve thought it would get this far? Dos Santos is a gutsy fighter for sure. Dude looks absolutely exhausted and spent in his corner though. Pair of jabs from Cain set up a takedown attempt and JDS gets warned for grabbing the fence as he blocks. They end up clinched and Cain drops for a single leg and drags him down. JDS pops back up, and then lands a left to the body, but Cain gets on him again before breaking with a right. Left jab from Cain and Junior is swinging wildly now. Single leg attempt from the challenger but JDS blocks and lands a couple of uppercuts inside. Cain breaks off and eats a big right hand from the champ, who then manages to defend a big takedown attempt. Cain just does not stop coming forward though and he lands with a pair of right hands to set up a clinch. The Brazilian contingent is deafening with the CIGANO chants now as he breaks off. Into the clinch again and this time JDS reverses position and breaks off. Single leg from Cain though and he trips JDS down. Punches from Cain and he ties up an arm and then gets on top in half-guard. Elbows and punches from Velasquez and finally he seems to be slowing down slightly. Junior tries to get to his feet, but gives his back and Cain keeps hold of a rear waistlock when he stands. JDS turns into him in the clinch, and Velasquez continues to pressure him with short punches before dropping for another single leg. Junior blocks it and lands with an uppercut, but he can’t get Cain off him at all. Less than a minute to go and a BIG RIGHT HEAD KICK wobbles Dos Santos badly, and Cain follows with a hard right hook. Dos Santos has a phenomenal chin. Cain continues to smother him with punches from the clinch, and the fight ends there. 10-9 Velasquez for a lopsided 50-43 in my eyes. Unbelievable.
Official scores are 50-45, 50-43 and 50-44 for the NEW UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World, Cain Velasquez.
Well, what can you say? That was perhaps the most dominant performance in a Heavyweight title fight in MMA history. The thing that won the fight for Cain more than anything was the sheer amount of pressure he put on Dos Santos, as he came out and set an insane pace from the off that never allowed JDS to get comfortable for a second, even before he’d been truly hurt. Once the big right hand landed in the first round the fight was realistically over and it was only Dos Santos’ ridiculous chin and sheer heart that kept him in the fight. Cain actually reminded me a lot of Fedor Emelianenko here, particularly in the fight he had in 2005 with Cro Cop, as it was the pace and pressure that Fedor used to put on fighters that caused them to break more than anything else. For me Cain really is like the new Fedor and I think he could surpass the Russian’s legacy in the future if he stays on the same path. Fight admittedly became somewhat repetitive towards the end but I was still in awe of Velasquez and so I certainly didn’t become bored by it at all. One of the most memorable UFC main events of 2012.
-Highlight reel rolls and that’s it for another great year for the UFC.
This is a bit of a tough show to sum up really, as while the card did have a lot of good fights (mainly on the prelims), it was severely let down by two absolute stinkers in Leben/Brunson and Okami/Belcher and really Philippou/Boetsch wasn’t great either, so it took the unbelievable Miller/Lauzon to save the show. Buuuut despite the main card leaving a sour taste for some due to those first three fights, two bad fights and two slow ones (Moraga/Cariaso wasn’t great either) doesn’t make for a bad show, not when you’ve got Miller/Lauzon (high-end FOTYC), Varner/Guillard, Velasquez/JDS, Wineland/Pickett and explosive knockouts from Duffee and Perez on tap. Some more finishes and different card placement would’ve made this one of the best shows of the year, but as it is it’s still worth a look. Thumbs up.
Best Fight: Miller vs. Lauzon
Worst Fight: Brunson vs. Leben
Overall Rating: ****1/4
Until next time,
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