After being hit by injury after injury, UFC 155 finally went off Saturday night. The main card on its own was lackluster early, but the main and co-main event more than made up for the middleweight fights. After watching Joe Lauzon persevere through a cut that could have stopped the fight to make it to the final bell and Cain Velasquez dominating Junior Dos Santos against the odds, I'm a happy MMA fan. On top of that, the prelim fighters kept delivered action and kept me excited leading up to the PPV.
Cain Velasquez: You had to see this one coming. Going into this fight, Cain had shown a defensive weakness to strong strikers. He was dropped multiple times by Cheick Kongo and put down early by JDS in their first fight. He looked like a completely different fighter at UFC 155 though. He landed a huge right hand that rocked Dos Santos for the first time in his UFC career. He followed that up with almost complete dominance for the rest of the fight. There's absolutely no question right now that he's the number one Heavyweight in the division.
Constantinos Philippou: Costas came into this fight just barely scratching the top 25 facing a legitimate top 10 talent in Tim Boetsch. The first round made it seem like he'd be outmatched by a veteran that knew how to play to his strengths. But Philippou rallied and took control of the fight. Yes, Boetsch seemed to have suffered from a broken hand and had limited vision by either the eye poke or the blood in his eye, but Costa capitalized on his advantage an managed to score the finish. Regardless of the circumstances, this win moved Philippou way up the middleweight ladder.
Myles Jury: Jury was undefeated going into this fight, but Chris Saunders was far from the best the UFC had to offer. He got a big jump in competition when he drew Michael Johnson in his second UFC fight. Not only did he step up to the plate, he knocked it out of the park. Jury spent 15 minutes treating Johnson like he was an amateur. He may not be ready for the top of the division yet, but he definitely proved he's a UFC-caliber fighter.
Todd Duffee: After a UFC 114 loss to Mike Russow, Duffee got cut by the UFC. He'd only had two fights between then and UFC 155 and this was his chance to get back in the big leagues. His first round knockout of De Fries may not be as impressive as his seven-second KO of Tim Hague, but it definitely kept him in the promotion. He won't find himself contending for the title any time soon, but this win put a solid footing under his fighting career.
Joe Lauzon: It's not often a fighter who lost a decision makes the winners list, but "Creepy" Joe deserves it. He was busted open early with one of the worst cuts to make it past a doctor stoppage I've ever seen. He looked like he wasn't far from being finished in the first round. But Lauzon didn't let that stop him, when many others would have found a way out, he never stopped fighting. Even in the final minute of the fight he jumped for a flying heel hook and followed with a guillotine attempt. He may have a loss on his record but he's a winner in my book.
Junior Dos Santos: As good as Cain Velasquez looked in the main event, JDS looked that bad. Granted he never gave up, but after getting cracked in the first he established almost no offense aside from single punches. He looked tired after the first round and couldn't adjust his game to counter Cain's pressure. He's still one of the best heavyweights in the world, but he gave up one of the most one-sided champion's defeats in UFC history.
Alan Belcher: He'd gone three years and four fights without a loss before UFC 155. After he TKO'd Rousimar Palhares at UFC On Fox 3, some fans were shouting his name for title contention. But against Yushin Okami, Belcher showed he's nowhere near ready for that. For all his talk of improvement, he had no answer for Yushin's clinch or grinding grappling. With 8 years as a fighter under his belt, it's hard to see Belcher improving enough to make the step to the elite of the 185 lb. division.
Chris Leben: Before getting TKO'd by Mark Munoz at UFC 138, Leben was the #13 Middleweight in the world. This was his first fight back after a year long suspension against a fighter coming off 2 losses. This was his chance to shine. He dropped the ball and was completely unable to capitalize on a gassed opponent after losing the first round. He won't be cut, because he's Chris Leben, but he'll need to do something in his next fight.
Brad Pickett: With wins over top fighters like Yves Jabouin, Ivan Menjivar, and Demetrious Johnson, Pickett has undoubtedly established himself as a top Bantamweight. But almost every time he gets a chance to make that next step toward contendership, he falls short. He's done it twice before against Scott Jorgensen and Renan Barao. Last night, he did it again when he couldn't find an answer for Eddie Wineland. Eddie countered him all night with a straight right hand, and Pickett never found a way around it. Even when he was able to dodge it, he couldn't make anything happen from his side. If Pickett wants to get to the belt, he's gonna have to find a way to take that next step.
Melvin Guillard: After losing the decision to Jamie Varner, Guillard fell to 1-4 in his last five fights. That's a poor showing for a fighter who was on the cusp of contendership just a little more than a year ago. Varner had proved he's no pushover in his first two UFC fights this year, but I have no doubt the UFC expected Melvin to beat the guy who gave up a decision to TUF washout Dakota Cochrane. Guillard will probably get another chance to get a win, but even as a UFC veteran with and exciting style, he has to be on thin ice.
Jim Miller (Winner): I know it seems harsh that Miller is here instead of the winners list, but let's be honest, he was rightfully expected to beat Lauzon. He's got better credentials in every part of the game and was favored to win. He did what he was supposed to and earned a solid decision. Congrats to Miller on the Fight of the Night performance and I look forward to his next fight.
Las Vegas fans (Losers): Ya'll were terrible all night long. You boo'd seconds into Johnson/Jury which turned into an incredible performance from Myles. You boo'd during Guillard/Varner, which may have been a slower than expected, but was still an fun fight overall. And the last straw was booing during the post-fight speech of Junior Dos Santos. He lost to your favored fighter Cain Velasquez, but he put everything on the line for 25 minutes before that. His tenacity in that fight should have been more than enough to earn the respect of any fight fan and you showed nothing but contempt. You're awful and you smell bad.
Yushin Okami: Okami had not looked good since losing his title fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 134. He gave up the TKO to Tim Boetsch after winning the first two rounds, then ate too many shots from the unknown Buddy Roberts at UFC 150. But, Saturday night he got his first solid victory since Nate Marquardt. He's still not up for another run at contention, but he showed he deserves his ranking as one of Middleweight's best.