UFC 155 Fight Card: Power Ranking the Main Card Fighters
With UFC 155 but a day away, anticipation surrounding the event is at its zenith.
The event is highlighted by a heavyweight title fight between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, and it enjoys a solid supporting cast of bouts from its Facebook prelims to the main event lead-in.
Here, we'll take a look at the 10 fighters who will populate the UFC 155 main card, and assign them a ranking based on their recent performances and past accomplishments.
10. Derek Brunson
Photo by mmabay.co.uk
It's a little perplexing that Brunson goes from back-to-back losses in ShoFight and Strikeforce to a UFC main card on pay-per-view, but at least it makes drawing up this list a bit easier.
After beginning his career 9-0, Brunson dropped a decision to UFC veteran Kendall Grove in June, then gave Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza the first knockout win of his career in August. While both losses came against solid guys—especially Souza—this seems like a case of the UFC wanting to get Chris Leben a victory on a big stage.
The only positive of Brunson and Leben taking up a main card spot over Brad Pickett vs. Eddie Wineland is that the FX bout will probably pull in a larger audience than the PPV one.
Brunson is a replacement for Karlos Vemola, who had to pull out of his UFC 155 tussle with Leben.
9. Chris Leben
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
The other half of UFC 155's first main card attraction, Leben is returning from yet another failed drug test.
He is a popular fighter and company man, though, which helps to explain his presence on the PPV portion of the event despite returning from the suspension and having a 1-2 record over his past three contests.
Both Leben and Brunson are probably better fitted to throw down on the prelims, but the fight does promise to be exciting and get the main card started out with a bang.
8. Constantinos Philippou
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
I'm picking Philippou to pull out the upset over Tim Boetsch at UFC 155, but in balancing the recent accomplishments of each guy with my own perception of them, I'll keep Philippou near the bottom of the list.
I would consider him to be one of the promotion's more underrated fighters, and on the verge of a breakout win, which may come as early as Saturday. But because the UFC 155 main card is so stacked with talent, and because Philippou has shown more potential than results, it's difficult to justify bumping any of the fighters ahead of him.
He's definitely main card worthy, though, and there's little question that a tussle between him and Boetsch will be worth paying for.
7. Joe Lauzon
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Lauzon has made a living off beating good-but-not-great opponents, and doing it in exciting fashion. That makes him worthy of a spot on a stacked UFC 155 main card, but it also makes him one of the lower-rated guys there.
A veteran of the UFC since 2006, Lauzon has become a mainstay in the promotion's tough 155-pound weight class. He's taken down Jens Pulver (when that still meant a little), Jeremy Stephens, Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner. However, he's never truly been able to break into the division's upper echelon.
When given the chance to add a top name to his hit-list, Lauzon has always faltered. Kenny Florian and Anthony Pettis each stopped him, as did George Sotiropoulos when he was on top of his game.
He'll get another chance at a signature win though, when he takes on Jim Miller on Saturday night. The matchup has Fight of the Night potential written all over it.
6. Tim Boetsch
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Boetsch will be in a tough fight against the underrated Constantinos Philippou at UFC 155, but 2012 wins over Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard have to count for something.
But at the same time, because there is a prevailing sentiment that Boetsch cannot sustain his current course much longer, he peaks at the middle portion of this list.
Since dropping to 185 in 2011, Boetsch has reeled off four straight wins en route to becoming a fringe middleweight contender. A win Saturday night would go a long way toward eliminating the word "fringe" from that accolade.
And though Philippou isn't the biggest name in the UFC, he is a very tough opponent. A win for Boetsch might force his doubters to reconsider their position.
5. Alan Belcher
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
This feels low for a guy of Belcher's ability, but once again, mixing accomplishments with personal judgment churned him out where you see him.
Though he will enter UFC 155 on a four-fight win streak, Belcher has no truly impressive names on his list of victories—Rousimar Palhares is the best—which is something he'll try to change on Saturday night.
A win over Yushin Okami would put Belcher right in the thick of the middleweight title chase, somewhere he's deserved to be for quite sometime now.
4. Jim Miller
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Like Belcher, Miller doesn't have any names that stand out on his hit list, but he has taken out a bevy of well-respected opponents.
And it isn't like his losses have come from just anyone. Indeed, Miller's three defeats in the UFC came against Ben Henderson, Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz—arguably the top three lightweights on the planet.
Defeating Lauzon at UFC 155 might not get Miller the signature victory he's looking for, but it would reestablish him as a contender and a guy very near the top of the 155-pound division's heap.
3. Yushin Okami
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Some may view ranking a fighter with just one win over his past three contests this high as generous, but take a minute and consider those losses.
The first came against Anderson Silva, which means it's essentially a non-loss because what other result would you expect to come from fighting "The Spider?"
The second was a knockout loss to Tim Boetsch, which stings, but it's worth noting that Okami was way out ahead for about 10:00 of the total 10:54 of that bout.
That isn't to say Boetsch scored a lucky punch, but the result seems like more of an anomaly than an indication of Okami's standing in the middleweight division.
Other than that, he's only lost to Chael Sonnen and an in-his-prime Rich Franklin since joining the UFC.
2. Cain Velasquez
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
Though Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez II has the feeling of a toss up, Velasquez is relegated to the two-spot because his opponent already owns a convincing win over him.
The pair of main event fighters are unquestionably the best two heavyweights currently competing in the sport, which provides a spectacle rarely seen and affords legitimate reason for excitement.
Whether Velasquez can even the score remains to be seen, but his accomplishments coming into UFC 155 are more than enough to win him the silver here.
1. Junior Dos Santos
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Who else could it be?
Dos Santos is quickly building a resume that would make him the best heavyweight fighter of all time. He's not there yet, but a second win over Cain Velasquez would go a long way toward achieving that end.
The Brazilian holds a 9-0 UFC record and already owns a title defense. Though this event is stacked with talent, nobody really even comes close to owning such accolades.
It isn't all that common that the two best fighters on a card happen to be fighting each other, but it tends to be pretty awesome when that is the case. Especially when they are also the No. 1 and No. 2 in their division.