UFC 155: Latest News and Rumors Surrounding MMA's Big PPV
It has taken 13 months, two combined fights and a lot of buildup to get to this moment, but Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, the two best heavyweights in mixed martial arts, will step back into the cage to determine the UFC heavyweight champion at UFC 155 on Dec. 29.
The first time these two stars met in the Octagon was at a special preview UFC on Fox event in Nov. 2011. Velasquez was the reigning world champion with a perfect record, including the destruction of Brock Lesnar 11 months earlier to win his first championship in UFC.
Dos Santos had long been one of the best and most feared strikers in all of mixed martial arts. His stellar boxing acumen carried him to a 13-1 record leading up to that fight over one year ago. He wasted little time in showing his outstanding boxing skills to win the title in 64 seconds.
Of course, there have been reports that Velasquez actually suffered a serious knee injury weeks before the fight.
Now, there are no injuries (hopefully), excuses or roadblocks standing in the way of these two titans. Velasquez and dos Santos are going to settle the score once and for all to determine who the best in the world really is.
We will have all the latest news, rumors and information for you leading up to the final UFC pay-per-view of 2012.
UFC 155 Weigh-in Results
With just 24 hours before Saturday’s huge UFC 155 event kicks off, it was time for the entire card to hit the scales and ensure each fighter made weight.
There were no serious surprises at this event’s weigh-in—that’s a good thing because surprises here are almost always of the negative variety—but heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos had plenty to say about his second title defense.
Dos Santos told MMA Weekly about what the fight means and how the Brazilian wants it to end:
It means everything to me. Cain Velasquez for sure a great opponent, but I know, I know you guys like knockouts, so one more is coming for you.
The heavyweight division is always good for an explosive knockout or two when these big boys start rumbling, and the familiarity between Dos Santos and Velasquez will add another KO victory to the current champion’s record.
Full Weigh-In Results
Junior dos Santos (239) vs. Cain Velasquez (240)
Jim Miller (156) vs. Joe Lauzon (156)
Tim Boetsch (186) vs. Costa Philippou (186)
Yushin Okami (184) vs. Alan Belcher (186)
Chris Leben (185) vs. Derek Brunson (185)
Brad Pickett (136) vs. Eddie Wineland (135)
Erik Perez (136) vs. Byron Bloodworth (136)
Melvin Guillard (155) vs. Jamie Varner (155)
Michael Johnson (154) vs. Myles Jury (155)
Phil DeFries (245) vs. Todd Duffee (249)
Leonard Garcia (146) vs. Max Holloway (145)
Chris Cariaso (125) vs. John Moraga (126)
Dos Santos Shifts Focus to Velasquez
Junior dos Santos made quick work of Cain Velasquez in their first meeting, knocking him out just 64 seconds into the fight. That's led to plenty of questions about where the pressure lies for the rematch. Is it on Dos Santos to produce a repeat performance or on Velasquez to have a better showing?
Dos Santos seemingly leans toward the latter. Chuck Mindenhall of ESPN.com passed along some thoughts from the champion, who's only focus is retaining his title, not the surrounding hype.
"I think it’s more a rematch for Cain Velasquez than it is for me," he said. "For me it’s another fight, and every fight -- I take my next fight as my toughest fight ever. So I get very well prepared for all my fights, [and] I that’s how I am now. I am 100 percent [ready] to go there and keep my belt."
While both fighters will attempt to downplay the pressure on their shoulders, Dos Santos is definitely in a position of strength after an impressive showing last time. Either way, MMA fans should be in for a terrific battle on Saturday night.
Joe Lauzon, UFC's Last True Submission Artist
Joe Lauzon's shoulders are getting tired. The UFC 155 star, who will fight Jim Miller in a crucial lightweight bout, is not only fighting for himself, but also every submission fighter who doesn't get the respect they deserve.
In an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, Lauzon said that he makes a concerted effort to go after submissions whenever he can.
If I'm not doing anything, I get bored, so I have to go out there and look for those submissions. I want to make them say, 'You're better. I give up.' … When you get a submission and the guy says, 'OK, please stop. You're going to destroy my arm,' or they get choked unconscious, then there is no question about who was the better guy.
Submissions are actually far more exciting than knockouts because there is a certain level of skill required with the former that you don't need for the latter. Anyone can thrown one punch and drop someone to the mat.
It takes real technique, strength and precision at the point of attack to lock in a submission and then get someone to tap out.
Lauzon's style doesn't lend itself to sustained long-term success, because he doesn't have great power and opponents with good takedown defense are going to have a decided advantage in a fight, which is why he is just 6-4 in his last 10 fights.
But when Lauzon is able to get the fight to the ground, he is incredibly difficult to beat. Of those six wins he does have, five of them have come via submission. He will have to be on top of his game against Miller, who is also a submission specialist.
Eddie Wineland's Aggressive Streak to Carry Him
Eddie Wineland, probably best known for his fight with Urijah Faber at UFC 128 last year, is trying to work his way back into the bantamweight title picture after defeating Scott Jorgensen back in June.
One of Wineland's best attributes is his ability to throw caution to the wind inside the octagon. Sure, that does tend to leave him open to getting hit as much as it creates opportunities for him to score a knockout.
Despite that aggressive style, Wineland has only been knocked out once in 28 career fights. He has a strong chin and able to take a punch with the best of them.
Talking to MMAJunkie.com, Wineland said that Brad Pickett, his UFC 155 opponent, is going to be in for a rude awakening this weekend.
I've watched some of his fights, and he's not afraid to stand and trade. He'll stand in the pocket and take a punch, and he stays right in place and stands and swings. But he also likes to shoot for the takedown, and when he gets in real trouble, he'll go for that takedown.
I think I'm going to punch him a couple of times and he's not going to like it.
After losing two straight fights in 2011, Wineland is trying to build himself back up. He had a great showing against Jorgensen, but now is not the time for him to try and get complacent. He has a lot of work to do in order to get back into contention.
Jim Miller Is Ready to Dominate
With a tough fight against Joe Lauzon at UFC 155, lightweight Jim Miller is looking to hop back into the title discussion for his weight class by not only beating Lauzon, but thoroughly dominating him throughout their fight.
Miller told MMAjunkie.com Radio about his game plan for the fight and how he wants to prove his worth to the UFC officials in attendance:
I want to beat him up and be dominant from bell to bell. I try to be my own biggest critic and really push myself. … That's the plan: Beat him as dominantly as I can, take another big one and put somebody else away.
While this is strong talk from a man who has two losses in his last fight, those losses came to two of the biggest names in the division, Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz.
Miller may struggle to beat top-flight competition, Lauzon is average-at-best and Miller should be able to complete his plan of attack.
UFC 155 Fight Card
|MAIN CARD ON PPV|
|Heavyweight Championship: Junior dos Santos (c) vs. Cain Velasquez|
|Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller|
|Middleweight Bout: Tim Boetsch vs. Costa Philippou|
|Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher|
|Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson|
|Bantamweight Bout: Brad Pickett vs. Eddie Wineland|
|Bantamweight Bout: Erik Perez vs. Byron Bloodworth|
|Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner|
|Lightweight Bout: Michael Johnson vs. Myles Jury|
|Heavyweight Bout: Phil De Fries vs. Todd Duffee|
|Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso vs. John Moraga|
|Featherweight Bout: Max Holloway vs. Leonard Garcia|
Junior dos Santos Predicts a Knockout
In one of the most surprising developments of Fight Week, Junior dos Santos is not only predicting that he will defeat Cain Velasquez to retain the UFC heavyweight championship, but that he will do it by knockout.
In a video interview with ESPN UK, dos Santos said that he is preparing for this fight with the anticipation of finishing it, and that this fight will "be a little longer (than he first fight), like the second or third round."
Both these incredible heavyweights can strike with the best in the world. They are going to come at each other hard with everything they have. Dos Santos has proven time and again that he is the most powerful and accurate striker in the division.
Velasquez has evolved so much to the point where he is a completely different fighter than the one who started in UFC. Where once he was a wrestler with a decent stand-up game, he is now a very good puncher with true knockout power.
Plus, the fact that both men are likely to be in the 260-pound range stepping into the cage lends itself to someone eating a huge punch and planting their face in the canvas.
With what we have seen from dos Santos in the last two years, how do you really bet against him?
Junior Dos Santos' Focus Diverted?
No one would ever question Junior dos Santos' preparation for a fight, but it is interesting to hear him use a conference call as an opportunity to call out another fighter who has nothing to do with his upcoming bout.
Jared Jones of CagePotato.com posted the video and quote of dos Santos talking about Alistair Overeem, though he didn't actually use his name.
I prefer to fight against clean athletes and real professionals. Cain Velasquez is one of these guys. He’s a real professional fighter and that’s a good challenge for me. I know he’s very tough and I know how hard I have to train to face him. And the OTHER GUYS, they just say things, but there’s nothing behind the words. Guys like me and Cain Velasquez, we are made at the gym. Guys like the OTHER GUY there, they are made in the laboratory.
Overeem's suspension is set to end soon and he could make his return after the start of the year. It would stand to reason that he would have to win one fight before being thrown back into championship contention.
Given the controversy and talking that has gone on with Overeem over the last 12 months, it would be a surprise if he didn't get a shot—assuming he wins his first fight back—against the winner of dos-Santos-Velasquez.
Cain Velasquez Gets in on the Trash Talk
Even though he isn't the most boisterous fighter in the world, Cain Velasquez is capable of trash talk when he really feels motivated.
Apparently, a title fight with Junior dos Santos is the motivation he needs, as Velasquez told ESPN UK that "there's nobody better than me, especially Junior dos Santos."
All the talk and bravado leading up to a fight is meant to sell tickets and pay-per-views, we know that. But Velasquez is someone who rarely boasts about himself in an interview. He will show respect and admiration for his opponent, as he did prior to ending this particular promo with those words.
At some point, though, you just have to let loose. Velasquez has a legitimate gripe with the way things unfolded for him the first time these two horses fought. He was hurt entering the cage, only to be humiliated on national television to lose the championship.
Prior to that fight, Velasquez was being talked about as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He came out of the first fight with dos Santos searching for a lot of answers. He found them, and then some, in absolutely destroying Antonio Silva to earn a rematch for the title.
Velasquez is embracing his inner talker leading up to the fight. Hopefully he knows what he is doing, because dos Santos has proven time and again he will knock anyone out.
Alan Belcher Wants a Title Shot
Alan Belcher's path to a middleweight title shot includes a fight with Yushin Okami on Saturday's card. He has a career mark of 18-6 (9-3 in UFC) and has won his last four fights, all via TKO or submission, entering UFC 155.
In building a strong resume, Belcher is inching closer toward a title shot in a loaded 185-pound division, not to mention the potential superfights for Anderson Silva with Georges St-Pierre and/or Jon Jones, so he could be waiting for a while.
Those hurdles aren't stopping Belcher from looking forward to showing the world just how much his game has improved. In an interview with B/R's Duane Finley, Belcher knows that his job this Saturday is to keep impressing the right people.
I have to prove that I deserve a big fight against one of the big-name guys—which I already have and I need to stay there. If I really want 2013 to be my run at the title, this is a great way to kick it off.
As mentioned before, it is going to be an interesting 2013 for the middleweight division. Silva could have as many as four different opponents to fill up the one or two fights he will have. Two of those opponents (St-Pierre and Jones) are not even in the division, so there could be an interim title fight just to make sure that there is a middleweight championship circulating next year.
So many questions that don't have answers right now, but Belcher knows a win over Okami will elevate his already strong standing in UFC.