(What a crazy year it’s been. Just think, four weeks ago that bald guy in the middle was actually homeless. / Photo courtesy of Esther Lin’s UFC 155 weigh-in set on MMAFighting.com)
UFC 155 might not be as epic as some of the UFC’s previous end-of-year cards (you can blame the injury curse for that), but any time the Heavyweight Championship of the World is at stake, it’s must-see TV.
Tonight, defending champ Junior Dos Santos will try to keep the train a-rollin’ in a rematch with his old pal Cain Velasquez. Meanwhile in the co-main event, lightweights Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller will gobble up as many performance bonuses as they can get their little hands on. Plus, six middleweight contenders — including Tim Boetsch, Alan Belcher, and Chris Leben — will swing their ham-hock fists at each other, in the hopes that the most popular kid in school might notice them. Lotsa luck, ladies.
Running our final liveblog of the year (!) will be none other than Elias Cepeda, who will be updating you with round-by-round results after the jump starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and please share your New Year’s resolutions in the comments section.
Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson
Brunson rocking the classic private entrance song on the headphones walk to the cage. Leben using the Red Hot Chili Peppers to get amped as he walks to the UFC Octagon for the twentieth time.
Brunson leads with left kicks that miss. Leben catches another, tries but fails to get a sweep take down. Brunson counters with his own take down slam.
They work from Leben’s full guard. Brunson stands and tries to pass the guard but is sucked back into the full guard. Leben working an arm bar, Brunson defends. Leben switches to a triangle choke attempt, then another arm bar and Brunson slams his way out of the hold.
Brunson works to the half guard of Leben but the Cat Smasher recovers his full guard. brunson standing and throwing short elbows to the head of Leben. Leben trying to control the wrists and head of Brunson. Brunson stands and passes Leben’s guard, then works into the mount and an arm triangle choke attempt.
Leben rolls and gets a weak half guard back. Brunson lands a big elbow from on top of Leben in his half guard. Minute and a half left. Brunson staying low, trying to keep pressure on Leben. The wrestler begins to get off pot shots again. Leben recomposes to full guard and shoots for an arm bar that is easily defended by Brunson.
Leben is backed up against the cage and tries to stand back up with under a minute left. Leben up to his feet with under thirty seconds left, Brunson briefly takes his back then presses Leben up against the cage. The two separate and the bell ends with them in the center of the ring.
Brunson leads with another high kick. Leben catches it and throws a straight right down the pipe that lands on Brunson’s chin. Brunson wobbled but steadies himself. He shoots in and drives Leben backwards into the fence.
Leben defends the take down attempt well as well as Brunson’s follow up attempts from the double under hooks. Brunson gets tagged on the feet but Brunson shoots in again and scores the take down.
Leben working little hammer shots from the bottom in his full guard. Leben throws up a weak arm bar attempt and Brunson stands up to try striking. Leben cage walks and gets back to his feet. Brunson tries a guillotine choke but Leben easily defends.
Leben lands a big uppercut but Brunson returns fire and stuns Leben with punches of his own. Both men are tired but Leben moves forward. Leben is beginning to score with the round house kick to the leg. Brunson with a one-two punch combination that lands.
Brunson with another straight shot down the pipe to Leben’s head. Leben lands a jab then another leg kick. Brunson closes the distance off of a Leben leg kick and presses Leben backwards against the cage.
Leben frees himself and they are back in the center of the ring. Leben is stalking Brunson and throwing more punches. Brunson looks unsteady on his feet. Leben with another leg kick. Brunson attempts another take down. Leben defends the shot but is working with his back to the cage. Leben circles away from the cage once more and goes back to walking down Brunson. Leben fires a wide looping left hook that misses and the horn sounds.
Brunson lands a glancing lead punch. Brunson lands the double leg take down and presses Leben against the cage. Leben cage walks and returns to his feet. Leben lands another leg kick. Brunson land another big straight punch, shoots for a take down and gets stuffed. Leben throws and misses a big upper cut.
Leben wading in on a tiring Brunson but doesn’t land much. He does land a left that appears to knock mouth guard out. brunson takes Leben down but stands back up after a few moments. Ten seconds left and Leben and Brunson are both swinging big.
The horn sounds and Brunson lets out a celebratory scream instead of accepting a hand shake offer from Leben. Brunson apparently believes that he’s down enough with take downs to win the fight.
Decision time coming up next.
Judges score the fight 29-28 for Derek Burnson. Brunson beats Chris Leben in his UFC debut.
Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami II
Belcher is back to avenge his father’s death against former title challenger Yushin Okami. Tough one to call. Belcher insists that Okami is scared of standing and banging with him, bro. Okami says that he’s improved more than Belcher has and that he’ll walk away with another win over the Southern boy.
Belcher’s horrible Johnny Cash tattoo is really distracting from this writer’s play by play blogging, not for nothing. Lots of feinting and big swings from Belcher. Belcher slips and falls after he kicks and Okami lands a jab.
Yushin presses Belcher against the cage, looking for a take down. Okami lands a knee ot the body of Belcher, then tries to land a knee to the head. Belcher doing a good job of defending, then all but asks the ref to separate them. Belcher lands a trip and ends up on top of Okami. He then pulls a guillotine choke and guard on Okami.
The Japanese fighter defends and is inside of Belcher’s guard. Okami presses Belcher against the cage and works for the pass but runs out of real estate as the cage stops him. Okami eventually does pass to side control and looks to have very heavy pressure with his shoudler on Belcher’s neck.
Belcher gets his heels close to his butt and tries to bridge out and escape but Okami’s pressure is too much. Belcher does get to his knees and then tries to get to his feet. Okami locks on a front head lock then transitions to Belcher’s back as the horn sounds.
Okami swings and misses with a big left straight. Okami then presses Belcher against the cage, Belcher lands another take down but then pulls guard working for another failed guillotine attempt. Okami working strikes from on top of Belcher from inside of The Talent’s half guard. Belcher works for a deep half guard sweep but there’s nothing there as Okami’s base is too strong.
Okami now in cross side and the referee makes a malpractice-level decision by standing them up. Horrible. The Nevada State Athletic Commission needs to reconsider the referee’s competence.
Okami quickly brings Belcher back down to the ground, working from on top in half guard again against the cage. Half a minute left with Okami in control from on top on the ground, despite the referee’s attempt to dictate the fight.
The referee stands them up again with twenty seconds left. Okami’s right eye is swollen. the horn sounds.
Okami rushes in looking to clinch right away. Belcher defends and then drops Okami with a big punch following the sage advice of his coach, kick boxing great Duke Roufus. Okami has his legs back under him, stalking Belcher and then rushing him and pressing him against the cage.
For a third time, Belcher gets the better of an Okami take down attempt and lands in mount. Belcher transitions to his back. Okami defends the choke, stands and then frees himself and shoots for another takedown against the cage.
Belcher grabs Okami’s neck and goes for another guillotine choke. Belcher pulls guard and loses the choke. Okami in Belcher’s half guard against the cage with two and a half minutes left. Okami moves to mount but is choosing pressure over being very busy with strikes.
Okami, having established his mount positions, begins to rain down unanswered punches down on Belcher. Belcher turns and gives up his back. Okami gets both hooks in on Belcher, who is face down, and the horn sounds with Okami landing punch after punch from the back.
Decision time coming up.
All three judges score it 30-27 for Okami. Belcher’s four fight win streak is snapped and Okami gets his second straight.
Costa Philippou vs. Tim Boetsch
Few moments of feinting before Boetsch works for a take down. After about thirty seconds of work against the cage, Tim gets the take down. Costa quickly gets back to his feet but Tim stays connected, landing big knees to the body. Costa lands his own and separates.
They are back in teh center of the ring. Tim with a nice rear push kick. Nice inside leg kick from Boetsch. Costa witha left to the body, right to the head, punch combo. Boetsch pushing the pace, lands another leg kick. Tim pushes Costa against the fence but Costa catches Tim with a big upper cut counter.
Tim gets another take down and is inside of Costa’s full guard. Costa controlling Tim’s posture and referee Kim Winslow continues the embarassing pattern of the night with a quick stand up.
Costa takes advantage and lands a nasty body-head punch combo, flush to Tim. Boetsch, unfazed, lands a nasty front kick to the face of Costa. The round ends.
Rogan points out that he has heard Tim’s corner man Matt Hume talking about some injury that the fighter has sustained. As the round begins and Tim shakes out his hand, it appears that he may have broken his hand. Tim lands a big knee to the head of Costa from the clinch.
Tim is cut from an accidental head butt on his forehead. It looks like his right hand is the hurt one. Boetsch looks for and misses a take down. Tim lands another front kick to the body. Tim gets an accidental eye poke.
Jon Anik correctly points out that it has been a rough few minutes for Boetsch. Goodness gracious, ain’t that true.
Boetsch gets right back in with minimal rest time. Tim misses with a front kick. Tim now shooting in with minimal set-up and gets stuffed by Costa. Now Costa is on top from the half guard. Tim continues to bleed. Vosta throwing punches and elbows from on top. Costa throwing more strikes, then stands and walks away at the horn.
Tim tells his coach Matt Hume that he can’t see. Hume asks him if he wants to stop. “Fuck no,” is Tim’s reply. They get things started for the final round.
Tim with another shot from Kansas. He’s shooting from too far away with no set ups because of his hand and his blurred vision, it appears. Tim may have gotten another cut. Boetsch is butt scooting, then forced to stand up. Tim tries another failed take down and is again in half guard with three and a half minutes.
Boetsch is hurt and cannot see. He is back on his feet. Tim shoots in again, gets stuffed and is back in his own half guard. Tim eats some big shots and the ref steps in and calls the fight off.
Costa Philppou gets the win and stops Tim Boetsch’s frate trane run. Both men are impressive in their own ways in this one. Nasty fight. Good fight.
Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller
Both men come out swinging hard with punches in spurts. Miller tries to set up a big upper cut but misses. Miller with a hard leg kick and a hard shot to the body of Lauzon. Miller with another hard body knee that hurts Joe.
Miller follows up with punches. Lauzon gets free then eats a high kick. Miller landing big with more punches to the body and head then another big knee. Lauzon lands his own then gets free. Miller with another buckling leg kick.
Miller with nasty dirty boxing and elbows from the clinch. Miller tries a standing arm triangle hold, Joe defends and frees himself. Lauzon is cut badly and referee Yves Lavigne stops the fight for him to be checked out by the doctor. The cut is over the right eye.
The fight continues with two minutes and fifteen seconds left. Miller lands a head kick and now more short punches and elbows from Miller. Lauzon returns fire with an upper cut. Miller with an upper cut. Lauzon lands a big knee to the head of Miller. Miller follows up with another left short cross.
Both men fall after a kick from Miller. Lauzon with a straight jab but he’s bleeding badly. Under a minute left. Miller misses with a big over hand left. Lauzon with a right hand, Miller lands a one, two and another inside leg kick. Miller backs Lauzon up against the cage again. Lauzon returns with a jab. Ten seconds left. Miller lands a body kick. Lauzon ends the round with a flying knee to the body.
Lauzon wants the fight to continue badly. The crowd is going nuts. Round two starts. Miller immediately back on the attack with punches. Lauzon eats them but returns fire. Miller with a double leg take down. Lauzon in butterfly guard. Miller attacking the cuts on Lauzon’s face and head. Lauzon in his closed guard.
Lauzon’s cuts are bleeding badly again. Lauzon working to get to his feet instead of going for submissions. Miller in Lauzon’s half guard now, working to pass with heavy pressure on Lauzon’s neck. Lauzon tries to bridge out but Miller bases out and takes the mount.
Lauzon immediately takes back half guard. Miller postures up and throws a nasty elbow and punch to Lauzon’s head. Lauzon working for a deep half guard sweep but getting stuck under Miller’s base. Miller goes for a D’Arce choke but loses it and Lauzon is on top against the cage!
Lauzon is pressing Miller against the cage. Lavigne stops the fight because Lauzon’s hand tape is loose. They re-start from the same position. Good job by Lavigne.
Miller working his mission control rubber guard position to control Lauzon’s right arm. Lauzon picks Miller up and slams up, steps over Miller’s right leg to pass. Miller gets his right knee up into a half butterfly guard. Lauzon clears it again but Miller fights for it again. Lauzon dives for a heel hook, switches to a knee bar, Miller frees himself but Lauzon goes for a front choke. Time runs out with Miller face down on all fours, defending a front head lock from Lauzon.
Miller kicks out Lauzon’s leg again and drops JLau. Lauzon is right back up on his feet. Nice right punch from Lauzon. Miller looks spent from the beating he put on Lauzon in the first. Miller drops Lauzon with another inside leg kick again.
Lauzon chooses to stay down to try and goad Miller to the ground. Miller backs up and the ref stands them up. Lauzon pressing forward on Miller. Miller huffing and punching but returning fire. Stiff jab from Lauzon. Inside leg kick from Lauzon. Miller presses forward trying to land nasty dirty boxing shots again but Joe pushes him off and lands an inside leg kick. Miller with his own.
Knee to the body from Lauzon. miller backs up Short elbow from Lauzon followed up by a left hand. Miller lands his own, softer, knee to the body. Miller cut under his left eye. Lauzon appears to have another cut over his own left eye as well. miller swinging to the body, the, throws an uppercut to Lauzon’s head. Lauzon covers up. Lauzon parries a jab and lands his own. Minute and ah alf left. both men exhausted from this fight of the night. Lauzon swings big and misses.
Miller presses Lauzon against the fence. Lauzon circles out. Under a minute left. Lauzon with a right hand, Miller with a right hook. Lauzon lands a scissor leg take down, working fora heel hook with fifteen seconds left. Miller gets up but Lauzon locks in a guillotine choke. Miller is saved by the horn!
Lauzon looks to have stolen the the final two rounds at the end with submission attempts. Decision time coming up.
All three judges score the fight 29-28 for Jim Miller. Amazing fight.
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos II
Dos Santos gets the MGM Grand Garden Arena hyped with his energetic entrance to the Rocky theme.
Cain presses forward early shoots for and gets a single leg take down. Junior gets up and then lands on top. Cain reverses and they are back on their feet. Cain shoots from too far away and gets stuffed. Cain lands a left hook. Cain with a jab. Cain gets hit then Cain returns fire with a punch.
Body jab from Junior leg kick from Cain. Stiff jab from Cain. Cain dives for a single leg, Junior slips away. Cain stuns Junior with a right.
Cain with an over hand right that lands on the chin of Dos Santos. Cain dives for another single leg that gets stopped. Junior lands an over hand right.
Junior with a jab, Cain with two jabs and a knee to the body. Cain with a jab. Cain pressing Junior against the cage. Cain with with a big shot. Cain drops Dos Santos with a right. Cain lands a lot of shots on the downed Dos Santos. Junior to his feet, Cain takes him down, has Dos Santos on his knees against the cage again, raining down punches.
Junior back to his feet. Cain drags him down again. Junior tries to get up, Cain controls him and keeps him down. Junior back up, Cain drags him down again! Cain on the side of Junior, landing punches with seconds left in the round. The hor sounds with Dos Santos rising to his feet, but wobbled.
Cain slams Dos Santos with a double leg take down. He is behind Dos Santos, landing punches, now on top inside of Junior’s half guard. Junior up to his feet but eating big shots. Cain drags him back down with a double leg take down.
Cain on top of a flattened out Dos Santos. Cain doesn’t throw many more shots and Junior gets up but he is out on his feet, wobbling around. Cain backs him against the cage and takes Junior down again. Junior will not give up or give in and tries to stand again but Cain rides him and keeping the pressure on Dos Santos. Junior back up to his feet, presses Cain against the cage, Cain turns around and lands an inside left hand.
Cain hits an inside leg trip and brings Junior down to the ground. Dos Santos in half guard, Cain landing elbows and punches. Junior reverses positions, Cain goes for an arm bar from the bottom, Junior defends, escapes and gets on top. Cain scrambles up immediately and presses Junior against the cage with under a minute to go.
Cain picking Junior apart with punches upon separation, landing right on the chin to Dos Santos. Junior refuses to go down. The horn sounds.
Cain all but smiling as he prepares to get going in the third. Junior’s face is bruised and swollen. Dos Santos lands a big uppercut that hurts Cain. Dos Santos throws a hard body shot. Cain presses Junior against the cage again.
Cain goes for a single leg take down but Junior defends it. Cain going to the body and throwing an uppercut from the clinch. They are back in the center of the ring. Cain throws an over hand right hand and a left hook that lands. Cain pressing Dos santos against the cage again, looking for space in spots to punch. Cain goes for and misses a single leg take down.
Cain gets inside once more with an uppercut. They work in the clinch, hitting the body. On separation, Junior lands his own left body shot. Cain pressing against the cage again. Junior with a big knee to the body. Cain lands three big shots to the chin of Junior as the champ as his hands completely down at his waist.
Cain pressing again against the cage. Junior circles out and presses Cain against the cage. Cain tries to take Junior down but Junior defends and gets back to his feet. With under a minute left, Cain is once more pressing Junior against the cage and landing punches on separation.
Junior lands a big upper cut on Cain and Cain looks wobbled. Cain continues to stalk Junior though and the horn sounds.
Junior lands a stiff left hook after defending a Cain take down. Velasquez presses Dos Santos into the fence after eating a left. Junior circles out and rips a left to the body of Cain. Junior swings big and misses with a right hand. Cain lands a double leg take down but Dos Santos gets back up. Cain lands another flush shot to the chin of Dos Santos but the champ stays up.
Junior presses Cain against the cage and works for a take down. Cain defends and goes for and lands a take down. Dos Santos on his back, trying to get to his feet. Junior gets back up to his feet and Cain presses him agains the cage, landing a nasty left upper cut to the body. Cain now walking down Junior with punches along the cage. Junior with his hands down.
Cain shooting in weakly for take downs now, obviously spent from beating down on Junior and Dos Santos refusing to quit. One minute left and Cain is landing little shots to the head of Junior against the fence. Junior lands a left knee to the body of Cain. Junior lands a big right elbow and then right uppercut to the face of Cain.
Cain shoots for a single leg and Junior expertly defends before landing a stiff jab to the mid section of Cain. The round ends with Cain pressing Junior against the cage.
Cain with a jab a left hook and shoots in for a take down. Junior defends and lets rip another upper cut to the right side of Cain’s body. Junior now looking lighter on his feet as he moves around the cage. Both men are looking for one shot at a time given how fatigued they are. Cain shoots for another single leg take down but Junior defends. Junior swings and misses with a right hand. Cain shoots for and drives on another take down attempt that Junior defends. Cain with a left uppercut to the body and Junior answers with a right uppercut to the head.
Cain pressing the champ against the cage in an over under clinch. With three minutes left they separate and Junior lands another punch. Junior pressing Cain against the cage now. They separate and Cain lands a trip take down in the center of the ring with two and a half minutes left. Cain mounted on Junior briefly before Dos Santos gets to half guard. Cain landing punch after punch, followed with short elbows and then more punches. Junior gets to all fours in an attempt to get to his feet. Junior is up.
Cain presses him against the cage again before dropping down for a single leg take down that Junior dedends. Junior lands two more punches and Cain sticks to him like glue.
One minute left. Junior frees himself and throws an uppercut. Cain lands a kick to the head, but with his foot, to the left side of Junior’s head. Cain follows up with punches and presses Junior against the cage. fifteeen seconds left.
The fight ends with Cain pressing Junior against the cage. Cain falls to his knees in the center of the ring in celebration as Junior did one year ago.
Decision time up next.
Cain Velasquez wins a dominant unanimous decision to reclaim the UFC heavyweight title. “This fight was the hardest fight I’ve been through,” the now two-time champ tells Joe Rogan.
“Why are you guys doing that? Why?” Junior asked the crowd as they inexplicably booed him. Dos Santos sounds as if his jaw is broken. Multiple refs and this idiotic crowd dissapointed tonight. Thankfully the fighters, as always, delivered.
Velasquez acknowledged that he’d have to fight Dos Santos again in a rubber match at some point. Dos Santos, though, swollen and beaten, retained his fighting spirit.
“Like you said. I’m going to come back and I’m going to take my belt again,” Dos Santos promised.
Thanks for hanging out with us tonight, guys. Check back with us tomorrow for our UFC 155 Aftermath and post-event coverage.