UFC decided to close out 2012 with a bang on Saturday night. UFC 155 saw two incredible performances from winners, two fighters who were able to survive vicious onslaughts to make it to the end of the fight and spectacular drama throughout the evening.
The main event between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight championship did not disappoint; the two best big men in the world went at it for 25 minutes. Even though it was a one-sided destruction, both men walked out with the respect and admiration of everyone watching.
But that was hardly the only story on this spectacular show. Here are the biggest winners to come out of a great, fun UFC show that wound up bringing a close to a terrific year for mixed martial arts.
Cain Velasquez (def. Junior dos Santos to win UFC heavyweight title)
Just over a year ago, Cain Velasquez was humiliated on a national stage in the first UFC event on Fox. He lost the title to Junior dos Santos in 64 seconds. For a fighter who had steamrolled everyone in his path up to that point, it was a shocking result, to say the least.
It was obvious something wasn't right with Velasquez in that fight, which became even more apparent in the rematch last night. He destroyed dos Santos, who is arguably the best pure boxer in the heavyweight division and also boasts incredible takedown defense.
Velasquez picked him apart with hard shots, particularly in the first round, that left dos Santos wobbly for all five rounds. Velasquez kept hitting dos Santos and taking him down like he was sparring with a local fighter in the gym before finally getting the decision victory.
The heavyweight division is loaded at the top right now, but Velasquez proved that, at full strength, he is head and shoulders above everyone else.
(Bonus: Dos Santos deserves to be mentioned for at least making it through five rounds, because he looked like he was out on his feet two minutes into the fight.)
Jim Miller (def. Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision)
Miller is one of those fighters who may never be able to compete with the very top stars in the lightweight division, but he belongs in that tier directly below names like Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar.
A cynic would say that Miller lost two of his last three fights going into last night's bout against Lauzon. An optimist would say that those two losses came against Henderson, who is the lightwweight champion, and Nate Diaz, who just fought Henderson for the title.
What Miller did last night was make a statement that he wants to at least get back in the title conversation, because he was as aggressive as he has ever been, and it showed in the results. He left Lauzon's face a crimson mask when all was said and done.
Even though he wasn't able to get the finish it looked like he was headed toward in the first round, Miller put on one of the best and most complete performances of his career.
Todd Duffee (def. Phil de Fries via knockout)
The first two winners on this list will likely have big ramifications on the future direction UFC takes in those respective weight classes, Todd Duffee's win over Phil de Fries is not likely to garner a lot of widespread attention.
Duffee scored the most spectacular knockout of the night, though there were only two to choose from. He locked de Fries up against the cage in the first round, then leveled him with two huge uppercuts and it was all over.
Having been out of UFC for more than two years, Duffee needed a spectacular moment to remind the world why he was back in the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world. He got that and then some with this huge knockout victory.