UFC 155 started out excruciatingly slow on Saturday night in Las Vegas. As the night progressed, the twitterverse mirrored the frustration inside the MGM Grand Arena.
One of the many beautiful things about a MMA fight card is that the entire complexion of an evening can change like the flip of a switch.
When it was all said and done, 12 fights went down and only a handful of them sparked any sort of positive reaction from the crowd. Fortunately for the fans in attendance and the viewers on Pay-Per-View, the final two fights were two of the best one will ever see.
Following the final fight of the evening, people filed out of MGM buzzing about the performances that took place towards the end of the night. All the boos (and there were an awful lot) were a distant memory by the time 10:00 PM rolled around.
As we close the chapter on another UFC card, let's take a look back at the most memorable moments of the evening.
*Quotes provided by the UFC
Longtime MMA fans are easily offended. This was evident with regard to the Max Holloway and Leonard Garcia fight.
In what looked like a cheap version of the famed Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar match, both Garcia and Holloway continuously threw haymakers in the same way you and your friend might trade blows in the backyard after a few beers.
Of course the fans in attendance latched onto the action and held it in comparison to the fights that occurred shortly after.
While it may have been exciting for the fan, it did not demonstrate very good technique from either fighter.
It wasn't a record-setting knockout, but Todd Duffee did look like the exciting prospect we've expected to see since his UFC debut in 2009.
Duffee used a flurry of punches to win via TKO over Phil De Fries at the 2:04 mark of the first round. Following the fight, Duffee stated his thoughts on fighting in the Octagon once again:
“It feels good to be back in the UFC. I knew I had to win, but I wasn’t too worried about how though. I like the actual fight aspect of this sport, so I know I can deliver when I’m in there. I missed the fight feeling that you get when you’re standing across from your opponent and it felt awesome to get back in the Octagon.”
Only two of Duffee's 10 fights have gone past the first round.
Michael Johnson came out of his locker room fired up for his fight against Myles Jury. Unfortunately for Johnson, that was the best he looked all night.
Jury controlled Johnson throughout the fight, eventually leading to a unanimous 30-27 decision. Jury discussed his "nothing to lose" mentality entering the fight.
“I’ve sacrificed and trained hard for this fight and it paid off. A lot of people didn’t give me a chance against someone like Michael, so I came out here with nothing to lose. It felt great to get the win, but to also get so much time in the Octagon, which is something that I haven’t gotten a lot of up to this point in my career. Everything about this fight is going to help me become a much better fighter overall.”
Jury is now 11-0 in his professional career and 2-0 inside the UFC.
Unfortunately, I will remember this and all the "What the F's" I heard from the fans around me when it was announced one judge scored the fight 30-27 for Guillard.
As Dana White says about the judges, "It drives me [expletive] nuts."
From the initial walk to the Octagon in his Luchador mask to his gratitude in the post-fight press conference, Erik Perez truly embodies the Mexican spirit when he fights.
“It feels awesome to get my third UFC win in six months. It just makes me want to get back in the gym and keep training. It made me proud to hear all the Mexican fans and all the other UFC fans cheering for me when I walked out and then especially when I won. I would love to make a run at the title this year, but I am happy to do whatever the UFC asks for my next fight.”
I anticipate Perez and Cain Velasquez leading the charge of the UFC into Mexico in 2013.
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision on Saturday night, but it was the words of Pickett that caught my attention.
“I tried to push the fight. He was a tough fight and was able to keep coming in, picking me off and jumping back out of the pocket. He won the fight fair and square. When I heard a split decision being called I thought I might have a chance to win, but I don’t think judges score aggression as much as they do other aspects. If I bring the fight to someone the whole time and they’re running, I feel that people who fight that style should be rewarded for it.”
Of course, Wineland didn't see it that way at all.
“That was a fun fight for me. I’m used to being pretty banged up, but this isn’t any worse than any of my previous fights. Brad hit me harder than anyone ever has and I feel the same about how I hit him. My right hand seems to do the most damage and it worked out well for me tonight. I go in there with confidence and after dropping my first two in the UFC, I’ve won two great fights since and I plan to keep that momentum going.”
The two men had a great first round, but after that the action did grind to a halt and the Las Vegas fans continued their boos.
Wineland now continues his way up the Bantamweight ladder with his two-fight win streak.
Chris Leben and Derek Brunson may have turned in the most unenthusiastic fight I've ever seen.
I know Brunson took the fight on short notice, but what happened to Leben? Shortly after the fight started you could see his punches moving in slow motion. Every one of his motions looked so forced and heavy, it just wasn't the "Crippler" we were used to seeing.
Leban has now lost three of his last four fights.
Following the Leben fight was the horrendous bore-fest that was Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher.
Okami was able to lay and pray his opponent for most of the fight en route to a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 win.
The tide started to turn just slightly for the 155 card during the course of the Costa Philippou and Tim Boetsch fight.
There was some action and finally some blood for the MGM Grand crowd to cheer about, but then things started to take a turn for the worst. It was at this point where I firmly believed the 155 card was cursed.
Boetsch was severely poked in the eye and resorted to laying on the ground in hopes of bringing Philippou down with him. Boetsch's vision was impaired and he knew it was no longer safe to stand up and try to trade punches with his opponent.
The loss halted Boetsch's four-fight win streak, but served as the launching pad for the name of Philippou.
“I expected to win this fight, but not like this," Philippou said after the fight, "I made a few rookie mistakes in letting him take me down, but once we started trading blows back and forth later in the fight I had him. I was eventually able to get the better of him in the striking game and have the fight stopped."
I understand fans booing a fight such as Leben vs. Brunson, where both fighters are gassed after one round and keep checking the clock. However, it seemed as though every time any fight went to the ground (before Miller/Lauzon) the Vegas fans immediately started booing.
What ends up happening is the referee starts to make poor decisions on when to stand up the fighters. He or she becomes intimidated by the crowd. I saw more than a couple examples where a fighter was making advances in his position only to have the fight stood up.
Look, it's New Year's weekend and many fans pay money to see the two crack each other's skulls, but that is not what MMA is about. We can discuss MMA being mainstream all we want, but the fact of the matter is, most fans still have no idea what's going on when the fight hits the ground.
As I stated in a previous slide, I truly thought the 155 card was cursed. Nothing seemed to be going right and the fights were far less than good.
Enter Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon.
Miller and Lauzon displayed everything that is right with MMA. Exciting action standing up and on the ground, and the fans couldn't have been more appreciative of their efforts. For the first time all night, a standing ovation was given while these two great athletes performed.
Miller is already itching to get back in the gym:
“Joe Lauzon is a tough kid. I knew I was going to have to bring my best effort to put him away and I was never able to. That’s how good he is on the ground. And even in the last minute, look what he was trying to do to win the fight. I’m pleased with this win and I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym again.”
Lauzon, although he lost, still made a ton of fans. The last attempt at a heel hook was something I know I'll remember for quite some time. I've never seen a move quite like that before.
Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos epitomized how exciting the heavyweight division should be. This fight of the year (if not all time) candidate was electric from start to finish. Even the walkouts had this writer in full goose-bump mode.
The fight was spectacular. When Velasquez's first punch landed flush on Dos Santos, buckling his knees, the roar of the crowd and the wave of the Mexican flags was truly a sight I won't soon forget.
Dos Santos continued to fight back, no matter how badly he was beat. It was a courageous performance put on by both men.
Dana White loves trilogies, and I can't imagine that we won't see these two fight again in the near future.
When it is all said and done, UFC 155 will be remembered for two of the greatest fights one will ever see.
Joe Chacon is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and a staff writer for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.