The last UFC card of 2012 is going out with a bang. Junior dos Santos puts his heavyweight belt on the line against Cain Velasquez.
The UFC has had it's fair share of injuries this year and the bad luck didn't stop at UFC 155. Chris Weidman, Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard, Karlos Vemola and Cody McKenzie all pulled out with injuries.
Luckily, the UFC is filled with depth and this event is still going to be a very entertaining card.
UFC 155 takes place this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Cain Velasquez remembers the night Junior dos Santos took his belt. He is hoping JDS has that same feeling after Saturday night.
Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon has the potential to be one of the better fights of 2012 that will boost the winner near the top-ten rankings in the lightweight division.
Tim Boetsch looks to win his fifth straight inside the octagon against a very underrated Constantinos Philippou.
Yushin Okami and Alan Belcher square off in a very important fight in the middleweight division. The winner will stay relevant in the division while the loser will move further down the pecking order.
Chris Leben makes his return after a year-long suspension against Derek Brunson who is making his octagon debut.
Chris Leben (22-8, 12-7 UFC) vs. Derek Brunson (9-2, 0-0 UFC)
This is a tough fight to predict. Leben is coming off a one-year suspension after he tested positive for Oxycontin after losing to Mark Munoz at UFC 138. It's hard to judge how he will perform in his first fight back.
He enters Saturday as the slight favorite, but has not fought that well in his last three fights before his suspension. He is 1-2 and his lone win was against an aging Wanderlei Silva.
The major advantage for Leben on Saturday night will be his experience and knockout power in both hands. Leben's 12 UFC victories are tied with Rashad Evans, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez and BJ Penn for fourth most in UFC history.
Seven of his 12 victories inside the octagon have ended by knockout. He can knockout anyone at any given time. Anderson Silva is the only fighter in the UFC who has won more "Knockout of the Night" bonuses.
The UFC is doing a favor for Leben giving him Derek Brunson in his first fight back from his year-long suspension.
Derek Brunson makes his UFC debut coming in on a two-fight losing streak. He is replacing an injured Karlos Vemola and is getting the biggest opportunity in his young MMA career.
In his last fight against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza he got knocked out in just :41 seconds, and Souza is known as a submission artist. It was Jacare's first career KO victory.
Brunson has struggled mildly since stepping up in competition. He was 9-0 until he ran into former "TUF Season 3" winner Kendall Grove and former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jacare Souza.
The one plus for Brunson is he trains with one of the best camps in the world. Greg Jackson's camp has been one of the top camps and should give Brunson a smart gameplan against Chris Leben.
Brunson is a former three-time D-II All-American wrestler and will have to utilize his strong wrestling game if he wants to pull off the upset on Saturday night.
Chris Leben's experience will play a big factor in this one. Don't expect Brunson to last long with Leben. Brunson's only chance is if he can put Leben on his back to avoid standing up with "The Crippler." Don't be surprised if Leben takes home his fourth career "Knockout of the Night" bonus on Saturday night.
PREDICTION: Chris Leben (1st rd. TKO)
Yushin Okami (27-7 MMA, 11-4 UFC) vs. Alan Belcher (18-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC)
Alan Belcher has been waiting 2,317 days for this fight. On August 26th, 2006, Belcher made his UFC debut against Yushin Okami. Okami controlled the entire fight and won an easy unanimous decision.
Belcher has improved significantly since this fight and has quietly moved closer into title contention among the middleweight division.
Alan "The Talent" Belcher has reeled off four-straight wins inside the octagon and has won six of his last seven. He is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the UFC and has nine career TKO victories and seven career submission victories.
If Belcher wins impressively he will be one or two wins away from a middleweight title shot.
Yushin Okami has never needed a win so bad in his career. He finally got a title shot against Anderson Silva nearly two years ago, and it didn't end well for Okami. Silva finished him with a second-round TKO.
He followed that loss with another loss to Tim Boetsch. He dominated Boetsch for two rounds then got rocked in the third and final round. Boetsch finished Okami with punches and made one of the best comebacks in UFC history.
Okami rebounded after those back-to-back losses and dominated Buddy Roberts. However, Roberts and Okami are clearly in a different class of their own. Okami will have his hands full against a very talented Alan Belcher.
Saturday night will prove if Okami is still a guy to worry about in the middleweight division. Belcher wants his revenge from his first loss inside the octagon. A win for Belcher should line him up with a top-five middleweight in his next bout.
PREDICTION: Alan Belcher (unanimous decision)
Tim Boetsch (16-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC) vs. Constantino Philippou (11-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC)
Originally Tim Boetsch was suppose to take on Chris Weidman, but Weidman injured his shoulder and will be on the shelf until next summer.
Constantino "Costa" Philippou gladly took his place. Philippou trains with Chris Weidman under Matt Serra and will have the chance of his lifetime. If he can beat Boetsch, who is ranked No. 5 among middleweights by Sherdog.com, it will skyrocket him in the division rankings.
Philippou is the most underrated fighter in the UFC. No one knows who he is, but he has the chance to prove to the casual MMA fans who Costa Philippou is.
He has won four-fights in a row and his only loss in the UFC came when he took a fight on five-days notice. His four-wins came against Jorge Rivera, Jared Hamman, Court McGee and Riki Fukuda.
He tried out for season 11 of "The Ultimate Fighter" but didn't win his fight to make it to the house. Court McGee won season 11 and Philippou got to prove he was the best fighter that season when he dominated McGee for three rounds earlier this year.
Tim Boetsch is one or two wins away from a title shot. If he played football he would play for the Baltimore Ravens because the only way he knows how to win is ugly. He doesn't like easy wins.
He's a blue-collar type of fighter. His nickname "The Barbarian" says it all.
Since dropping to middleweight he has been unstoppable. After going 1-1 in the light heavyweight division he went down to 185-pounds. He has won four in a row and is inching near a title shot.
Kendall Grove, Nick Ring, Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard all failed against "The Barbarian."
Lombard was one win away from a title shot, and had a 20-fight win streak and hadn't lost in 25 fights, until he ran into Tim Boetsch.
There is one man Boetsch has to thank: Matt Hume.
Hume is the owner and head instructor at AMC Pankration's gym in Kirkland, WA. Matt Hume is one of the best coaches in the world and Tim Boetsch has thrived since joining Hume's camp.
"The Barbarian" is the favorite in this fight, but I am going with the upset. I think Philippou will stuff the takedowns and utilize his boxing skills. Philippou's takedown defense is off the charts. His 85.2% of stuffing takedowns are 8th best in UFC history. This will be the biggest factor in the fight and will get Philippou his biggest win yet.
PREDICTION: Constantino Philippou (split-decision)
Jim Miller (21-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) vs. Joe Lauzon (22-7 MMA, 9-4 UFC)
This fight has all the ingredients to take home "Fight of the Night" honors. They have combined for 15 bonuses inside the octagon. Lauzon is tied with Anderson Silva with 11 bonuses for most in UFC history. He has four "Fight of the Night", six "Submission of the Night", and one "Knockout of the Night" bonuses on his resume. If he adds one more this Saturday night he will have more than any other fighter in UFC history. Miller has four bonuses of his own, three "Submission of the Night" and one "Fight of the Night" bonuses on his resume.
This fight is going to be one of the most entertaining fights of 2012.
Originally Joe Lauzon was suppose to take on Gray Maynard, but Maynard pulled out with a knee injury and Jim Miller gladly took his place.
Miller enters this fight a loser in two of his previous three. Those two losses were to Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz, so nothing to be ashamed of for Miller. Henderson successfully defended his lightweight belt against Diaz three weeks ago.
If you take out those two fights, Miller has won his last eight fights against tough competition. During this span he beat Melvin Guillard, Kamal Shalorus, Charles Oliveira, Gleison Tibau, Mark Bocek, Duane Ludwig, Steve Lopez and Mac Danzig.
All four of his Miller's career MMA losses have come against Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Nate Diaz and Benson Henderson who have all held the UFC lightweight title or fought for the belt.
Joe Lauzon enters the cage for one reason: to please the fans.
This kid loves to put on a show to make the fans happy. His 11-bonus checks show he always looks for an exciting fight. He is one of the best submission artists in the world.
No UFC fighter has more "Submission of the Night" bonuses than "J-Lau". His last five wins inside the octagon have been "SOTN" finishes.
In his last fight against Jamie Varner on "UFC on FOX 4" they encountered in one of the best fights of 2012. Lauzon submitted Varner in the third round with a triangle choke and took home the "SOTN" bonus along with the "Fight of the Night" bonus.
If you are a fan of MMA you have to love Joe Lauzon. The guy never has a dull fight. He has won three of his last four fights with his only loss coming to Anthony "Showtime" Pettis. Lauzon might not ever get to fight for a title, but he will always be one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC.
If you are a UFC fighter and on the same card as "J-Lau" you better put on a great fight if you want to take home one of the bonuses.
This is a very tough fight to predict. I could see this one going either way. Jim Miller is tough to finish. Nate Diaz is the only man to ever finish Miller and I expect that to stay the same. Miller will be too big and strong for Lauzon and he will leave the octagon with a hard-earned victory. Expect this fight to take home the "FOTN" bonus.
PREDICTION: Jim Miller (unanimous decision)
MAIN EVENT: UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos (15-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC)
Cain Velasquez (10-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC
Cain Velasquez finally gets his chance to prove that his knee injury was the main factor during their first encounter.
Junior dos Santos wants this win badly because he knows if he gets by Velasquez for the second time he gets the fight he wants: Alistair Overeem. (Of course assuming Overeem defeats Antonio "Big Foot" Silva at UFC 156.)
Dos Santos made quick work of Velasquez 13 months ago. JDS only needed :64 seconds to take Velasquez's belt. No heavyweight has the type of power that he brings to the table. He is the best boxing heavyweight in MMA history. No other heavyweight has the speed and footwork that JDS brings to the table.
His three "Knockout of the Night" bonuses are tied for second most, only trailing Anderson Silva, who has had seven more fights inside the octagon.
JDS's 9-0 record is the second best start in UFC history only trailing Anderson Silva's 16-0 start. His nine consecutive UFC victories are fourth most all-time only trailing Silva, Georges St. Pierre and Royce Gracie.
The most remarkable thing about dos Santos is his nine UFC wins have come against legit competition: Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Gilbert Yvel, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Stefan Struve and Fabricio Werdum. Only Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin made it the entire 15-minutes. JDS looks to end fights emphatically and not just squeak by with a decision victory.
Cain Velasquez is hoping to do the same thing to JDS on Saturday night: pull off the upset and take home his belt.
Velasquez didn't follow his gameplan last time he took on JDS.
He paid for it, quickly.
He won't make the same mistake twice. Velasquez is arguably the best wrestler in the heavyweight division, at least until his American Kickboxing Academy teammate, Daniel Cormier, makes his octagon debut in 2013.
Velasquez won the NJCAA National Championship while wrestling for Iowa Central Community College and moved on to Arizona State University. During his three-year career at ASU he went 86-17 and finished in the top-five nationally in 2005 and 2006.
His wrestling is his bread and butter. His striking is very underrated though. Anytime you are a great wrestler and have a solid stand-up you have a chance to beat anybody. No one averages more strikes/minute (7.47) in UFC history than Cain Velasquez. Velasquez fights the same as JDS, he tries to finish fights. Only one of his career 11 MMA fights have gone the distance. Nine of his 10 MMA victories have come by knockout.
The key in this fight for Velasquez will be to put dos Santos on his back. Velasquez's 66.7% is tied for fourth best in UFC history.
Unfortunately for Velasquez, JDS's takedown defense is off the charts. Just ask Shane Carwin. He has stuffed 88% of his opponent's takedowns, which would rank in the top-five in UFC history but the minimum for the stat to count is 20 minimum takedowns stuffed. Opponent's gave up on trying to take down JDS so he hasn't reached that minimum just yet.
Velasquez's wrestling and JDS's takedown defense will be the difference in this fight. Also, JDS could be overlooking Velasquez because he has his mind set on Alistair Overeem. This could play a factor in the fight.
Expect JDS to stuff Velasquez's takedowns and beat Cain Velasquez for the second time to retain his heavyweight belt. No one has come close to beating Junior dos Santos inside the octagon and this won't change on Saturday night.
PREDICTION: Junior dos Santos (2nd RD. TKO)
Here's a quick glance at the remaining prelims and my predictions. The preliminary card is stacked!
Facebook Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT)
Chris Cariaso (14-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) vs. John Moraga (12-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
PREDICTION: Chris Cariaso (unanimous decision)
Leonard Garcia (15-9-1 MMA, 2-5 UFC) vs. Max Holloway (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
PREDICTION: Max Holloway (unanimous decision)
Todd Duffee (7-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. Philip De Fries (9-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
PREDICTION: Todd Duffee (1st RD TKO)
FX Prelims (8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT)
Myles Jury (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Michael Johnson (12-6 MMA, 4-2 UFC)
PREDICTION: Michael Johnson (split-decision)
Byron Bloodworth (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Erik Perez (12-4 MMA, 2-0 UFC)
PREDICTION: Erik Perez (1st RD Submission-RNC)
Jamie Varner (20-7-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) vs. Melvin Guillard (30-11-2 MMA, 11-7 UFC)
PREDICTION: Melvin Guillard (1st RD TKO)
Eddie Wineland (19-8-1 MMA, 1-2 UFC) vs. Brad Pickett (22-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC)
PREDICTION: Eddie Wineland (2nd RD TKO)
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