UFC 155: 11 Interesting Facts About the Dos Santos vs. Velasquez Fight Card
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UFC 155 takes place inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas this Saturday, and so far we know plenty about the card to help us get excited.
For one, UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos faces Cain Velasquez for the belt in the event's headliner, while Jim Miller faces Joe Lauzon in the event's co-headliner.
Rounding out the main card, Tim Boetsch faces Costa Philippou, Yushin Okami faces Alan Belcher in a UFC 62 rematch and Chris Leben returns to meet former Strikeforce product Derek Brunson.
Also, the preliminary card stands as a promise for a thriller in itself, with names like Jamie Varner, Erik Perez, Leonard Garcia, Brad Pickett, Eddie Wineland and more on the bill to open the card.
So with all that in the open, what should fans know about this Saturday's year-end fight card?
On Paper, Every Fight on This Card Can Take Home a Fight-Night Bonus
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Yes, every fight on this card promises to steal a fight-night bonus. The card looks that good.
Aside from the main and co-main events, Tim Boetsch and Costa Philippou both aim to take home a bonus of their own, while Alan Belcher looks to put a stamp on his rematch with Yushin Okami.
Needless to say, Okami will look to grind out Belcher again, but for all we know, Okami might hunt for a technically beautiful submission finish over Belcher or a vicious TKO.
Chris Leben definitely will look for a KO of some sort against Derek Brunson, as will Jamie Varner and Melvin Guillard when they face each other.
Relatively speaking, everyone on the prelims exhibits some sort of proven killer instinct, and the fighters will hunt for the finish in any way they can.
Whether or not they do will come to light on fight night. But as we draw closer to the card, it proves easy to understand how these fights stand as almost-certain bonus winners in their own right, despite the stylistic matchups that will desire to tell a different story on Saturday.
Leonard Garcia Must Definitively Defeat Max Holloway to Avoid the Chopping Block
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Like we just said, every fight on this card holds potential to take away a fight bonus at the end of the night, but in Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia's case, a fight bonus won't suffice unless he can get the best knockout or submission of the night.
Seriously, some people believe that Max Holloway will outpoint Garcia, while others think Garcia will have to fight his heart out and all but cement his fight with Holloway as the absolute best fight of UFC 155, even with Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon, Brad Pickett vs. Eddie Wineland and Jamie Varner vs. Melvin Guillard considered.
I don't disagree with the possibility of Holloway implementing his technical striking to outwork and outclass Garcia, but I take exception with those who think another fight bonus will keep Garcia on the roster if he loses.
Let's cut to the chase of it all: the fight bonus will only help Garcia if he stops Holloway and winds up getting a bonus for the best knockout or submission of the event.
Otherwise, Garcia simply needs to win because he knows where he ends up with a loss to Holloway, even if it turns into the best fight of the UFC's last event of the year.
Todd Duffee Returns to Pick Up Where He Left Off
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Just in case someone is still asking the question, Todd Duffee left the UFC at just 1-1 under the promotion. His attitude after a loss to Mike Russow soured his relationship with the company and caused him to get released.
After the Russow loss, he lost to Alistair Overeem before racking up a knockout win over Neil Grove in Super Fight League. Now he returns to face Phil De Fries at UFC 155.
De Fries is coming off a win over Oli Thompson at UFC on Fox 4 and initially signed on to fight Matt Mitrione before the latter stepped in to face Roy Nelson at The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale.
Solid Prospects Fly Under the Radar in Vegas This Weekend
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Michael Johnson, Myles Jury, Erik Perez, Byron Bloodworth, John Moraga and Chris Cariaso all share one thing in common: All six fly under the radar at UFC 155, but three of them will shine on fight night.
The red-hot prospect and TUF 12 runner-up Johnson emerged into his own with a winning streak that recently cultivated momentum and attention with a stunning finish of Danny Castillo.
Adding on to wins over TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson and Shane Roller, Johnson looks to add the first career blemish to Jury's record.
Jury will not lie down for Johnson, though. The undefeated TUF competitor may have lost to eventual runner-up Al Iaquinta, but he earned an impressive stoppage over Chris Saunders at The Ultimate Fighter finale.
Perez, meanwhile, enters the Octagon with a story that MMA fans must know as well as wins over John Albert and Ken Stone.
Bloodworth, who was supposed to fight Albert at the TUF finale, returns to the UFC after losing to Mike Easton at UFC on Versus 6.
Flyweight prospect Moraga returns to the Octagon on the heels of his UFC on Fox 4 win over Ulysses Gomez. He faces Cariaso, who defeated TUF 14 vet Josh Ferguson at UFC on Fuel TV 4 this past summer.
Two Weeks Laster, Emotion May Play a Part in Jamie Varner vs. Melvin Guillard
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Two weeks ago, The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale had a surefire lock for "Fight of The Night" in a lightweight bout between Jamie Varner and Melvin Guillard. Both men experienced no problem making weight and got the green light to go ahead with the bout.
Then, during the Fuel TV portion of the event, Varner fell ill, which forced the bout's shift to the UFC 155 prelims on FX. Guillard and his camp made accusations of greasing and cowardice but will nonetheless target whatever outcome they intended to achieve two weeks ago.
If any differences should come in the bout, look for that difference to come in the emotional mindset of Varner.
Normally, Guillard's mental and emotional mindsets prove difficult to gauge before his fight goes down, but something about Guillard's accusations may have set Varner off. The former WEC champ may therefore come out with an aggression not seen since his WEC 51 rematch with Donald Cerrone.
If both men remain composed, perhaps this one will play out the same as it would have two weeks ago. But if Guillard's accusations have crawled under Varner's skin, emotion may prove an X-factor in this lightweight thriller.
Brad Pickett and Eddie Wineland Find Themselves in a High-Stakes Bout
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Remember when we said that every fight on this card could potentially take home a fight-night bonus?
Well, we had this fight in mind when we said it.
The timetable for UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz's return fluctuates with no clear idea as to when it will happen.
UFC on Fuel TV 7 will feature UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao against Michael "Mayday" McDonald to decide who will face Cruz when the champion returns.
Of course, the notion of Cruz not returning anytime soon after UFC on Fuel TV 7 leaves the door open for a number of fighters to challenge the interim champion for the belt and the right to face Cruz after McDonald and Barao do business.
Who makes sense if that proves the case?
Enter UFC 155's Brad Pickett and Eddie Wineland.
They own seven fight-night bonuses between them, and while Wineland never said anything about it, Pickett believes a win puts the victor in the mix. Both men unquestionably will find themselves in the mix with a win but not before potentially stealing the show.
Chris Leben Has the Power, but He Can Still Get Put on His Back by Derek Brunson
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The consensus recommends that Brunson, a noted wrestler, will go for the takedown against Chris Leben at UFC 155.
Normally, a smart fighter doesn't dare to test Leben's jiu-jitsu off of his back, but any fighter with a strong blend of takedowns and a dominating top game can neutralize Leben's ground game from off his back.
Worst-case scenario, Leben must work to make decent use of his jiu-jitsu against Brunson, who will aim to tire out Leben. With Leben having been out since November of last year, only he knows what he wants to do as he prepares for Brunson, a late replacement for Karlos Vemola.
As long as Leben does not try to establish his wild striking early, he should come out with an impressive return to the win column. If he comes out brawling early, he will get outworked by Brunson.
Brunson's chin also poses a question, but that question will receive no answers before fight night. Leben will attempt to answer that question in his return to the Octagon.
Alan Belcher Fought Yushin Okami Once at UFC 62 and Lost
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At UFC 62, Yushin Okami and Alan Belcher exhibited the styles that MMA fans have come to associate with them.
Belcher's muay Thai and Okami's wrestling were showcased in full for three rounds. In the end, however, Okami's wrestling proved too much for Belcher. Okami took home a unanimous-decision win.
Since then, however, things have taken different turns for both men.
Belcher stands at 9-3 in the 12 fights since the Okami bout, though many argue that his record should be 10-2. While Belcher officially owns a loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100, many believe that Belcher deserved the win.
Okami, meanwhile, stands at 10-4 in the 14 fights since his victory over Belcher. All of Okami's losses came definitively. Chael Sonnen and Rich Franklin outpointed him, while Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch finished him.
Whatever ground game Buddy Roberts came in with when he faced Okami at UFC 152, he found it neutralized by the dominant wrestling of Okami.
Okami will look to do the same to Belcher again; however, with Belcher's success against Rousimar Palhares, Belcher stands a fair chance of finding a way to seize an opening and capitalize despite Okami's best efforts.
Costa Philippou Promises a Finish of Tim Boetsch but Must Outwork Him to Win
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I'm not implying that Costa Philippou can't find the finish over Tim Boetsch, but Boetsch just does not go down easily.
In fact, Jason Brilz owns the distinction of a technical knockout over Boetsch, and Phil Davis stands as the only fighter to force a tap from Boetsch.
If anything, Boetsch will look to end this one as soon as possible and continue forward in his quest for UFC gold. However, he has to be wary of being outworked by the Cypriot just as others have outworked him in the past.
In addition to Philippou's technical striking, the Serra-Longo product also owns an underrated ground game, which fans haven't seen much of lately due to his willingness to stand and strike.
He may or may not elect to do that against Boetsch on Saturday night.
Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon Presents a Lightweight Dream Fight, Believe It or Not
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A classy lightweight who never talks trash but either gets a finish or gets finished?
Sounds as much like Jim Miller as it does like Joe Lauzon.
What more needs to be said?
Both men can grapple, never shy away from turning fights into nail-biters when the Octagon door closes and personify warrior spirit that everyone can respect in a combat athlete.
Aside from all that, this fight represents the type of action-packed classic that some fans have flirted with in the back of their minds for quite some time now.
With Lauzon coming off a dramatic win over Jamie Varner and Miller looking to rebound from his loss to Nate Diaz, why not let this fight happen on Saturday night?
Sure, Gray Maynard had a date to come to Vegas and fight Lauzon, but even on short notice, Miller can still help deliver the same thrilling show with Lauzon that he would have delivered if he'd been the original opponent.
The UFC Heavyweight Title Scene Hasn't Seen a Trilogy Since 2005-06
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Not since Frank Mir's vacating of the UFC heavyweight championship and Andrei Arlovski's subsequent promotion has the UFC heavyweight title scene witnessed a trilogy.
Arlovski beat Tim Sylvia for the interim belt at UFC 51, lost the undisputed belt at UFC 59 against Sylvia and then lost the rubber match at UFC 61.
Since then, no heavyweight champion can claim so much as even one defense against either a predecessor or a previous challenger.
If dos Santos loses to Velasquez, he could potentially set the stage for a rubber match down the line.
Obviously, other variables tie in to the prospect of a rubber match including Alistair Overeem's UFC 156 bout with Antonio Silva. Even if Overeem beats Silva and then wins the belt from Velasquez or dos Santos, would the rubber match still go down?
Let's wait to discuss until "Round 2" between dos Santos and Velasquez in Vegas on Saturday.