UFC 155 Preview and Predictions
The main card of UFC 155 boasts five career-changing fights that each offer a one-of-a-kind showcase of the most entertaining elements of MMA. Whether you're looking for a dominant show of strikes, physically taxing test of will or technically brilliant grappling battle, UFC 155 is the perfect event to close out a year full of mind-bending action and tumultuous changes in rank within every division. What makes this main card so unique is the fact no one can predict how each of these matches will transpire and what giant step forward the winner will take afterwards. Either way, there is one key to victory every participant shares: evolution. Below is a preview to the five main card fights for UFC 155, Saturday, December 29th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson- Not much is known about UFC newcomer Derek Brunson, the man who will be replacing an injured Karlos Vermola to take on Chris Leben and his vicious left hand at UFC 155. A former All-American Division 2 wrestler, Brunson attained moderate success in the Strikeforce organization and currently trains at the camps of both Greg Jackson and Renzo Gracie. Leben and Brunson are each coming off a loss, and a definitive victory will grant the winner a much-needed dose of relevance along with an entrance to the battlefield for respect and consistency that is the middleweight division.
Brunson is fairly well-rounded, though his primary talent lies within his grappling background. Leben's power is never to be taken lightly, as Wanderlei Silva and various others have throughout his lengthy tenure in the UFC. This match-up has all the cards to turn into the classic striker versus wrestler competition, which mostly gives the edge to Brunson, as Leben's latest loss can be attributed to the overwhelming takedown-driven assault of wrestler Mark Munoz. Out of Brunson's 11 MMA fights, he has finished 7 in the first round, and Leben's brawling style has brought the world some of the most exciting knockouts in the UFC. Though this one could go the distance (we all know much Leben loves his back and forth wars), look for both fighters to try to end it as early as possible, not giving their opponent the chance to establish any sort of comfort or rhythm.
Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher- It will be strength versus speed as Belcher and Okami will fight again for the biggest win of their lives. The always light-on-the-feet Belcher packs a versatile arsenal of swift kicks and punches whereas the patient Okami prefers to use his muscular frame to carefully close the distance and bury his opponent with his fists. A lot is on the line for Belcher and Okami, even though they are at two very different stages of their careers and have come a long way since their first meeting in 2006, which was won by Okami by unanimous decision. Back to back wins over Rousimar Palhares and Okami will give Alan a decently big name adversary for his next fight, and if Okami avoids the accuracy and timing of his opponent, he will have been given a second to chance to ascend the ladder to the 185 lb. throne.
Both fighters are technical strikers, though they have been known to use their seasoned grappling skills to broaden the capabilities of their blows. They will most likely start off by measuring each other’s movements and using angles to land quick shots. If Okami can’t deal with Belcher’s aggressive agility, look for him to clinch with Belcher and attempt a takedown, as his background gives him more of an in that position. One flurry or solid punch could drastically change or end the fight at any time, and this bout will certainly contain plenty of both, especially if it goes to a decision.
Tim Boetsch vs. Costa Phillipou- Tim Boetsch had better do all can to live up to his nickname “The Barbarian” in this fight because Costa Phillipou, winner of four straight fights, is one unbelievably strong middleweight. Boetsch’s recent success has honestly been quite a surprise to UFC fans, as his two biggest wins have stemmed from increasingly shocking outcomes of his last two fights. He scored an amazing comeback KO of Yushin Okami and a rather uneventful razor thin decision over heavily favored Hector Lombard, and even though Costa Phillipou is replacing original opponent Chris Weidman, this will still be an extremely tough test for Boetsch, who really proved he could withstand a lot of punishment in the Okami match.
Costa Phillipou will be completely content clinching and jockeying for a takedown with Boetsch, and unless Boetsch has really worked his boxing skills, Phillipou will probably have the advantage on the feet as well. Both have faced some dangerous strikers, but we’ve never really seen Boetsch out-box anyone, and this is not at all the case with Costa Phillipou. These are two very calculative fighters, however, so expect some careful grappling against the cage rather than an immediate slugfest. If Boetsch can frustrate Phillipou with a more offense-based use of the movement that won him the Lombard fight, he actually may earn himself a number one contender fight in the near future.
Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller- It’s odd as to why this fight hasn’t attained more hype. One thing’s for sure, and that’s that Jiu-Jitsu fanatics everywhere are greatly anticipating what this fight will look like if these two incredibly intense grappling wizards end up going to the ground. Joe Lauzon has just about redeemed his knockout loss to Anthony Pettis by coming out on a top after a thrilling up and down clash with Jaime Varner last August. Miller most recently suffered a brutal loss to Nate Diaz due to the reach advantage of his opponent, which is why many believe that Lauzon will employ a similar, boxing-based strategy that may once again pick Miller apart.
Jim Miller is aware of this possibility as well, which is why we should look for him to try to swiftly close the distance to avoid Lauzon’s striking and wrestle his way to a submission. Yet as we already know, Joe Lauzon’s stunning submission victories speak for themselves, and Miller’s efforts to gain the top position on Lauzon will definitely be met with the most harmful yet unexpected counters imaginable. Lauzon’s striking and Jiu-Jitsu make this fight look real bad for Jim, but one thing that cannot be taken away from Miller is his speed. It will be the best chance he has to control the fight and avoid the submission holds and strikes of the surging Lauzon.
Heavyweight Division (Heavyweight Title Fight)
Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez-The last time these two fought for the heavyweight belt, Cain Velasquez made a fatal mistake of trying to trade punches with one of the most powerful and accurate strikers in the history of the heavyweight division. He had reason to feel confident in his hands (they had just earned him a TKO over Brock Lesnar), but many wondered why Cain chose not to utilize his wrestling base and try to take Junior down. Cain Velasquez is undoubtedly a powerful puncher, but, as displayed in his last performance against Antonio Silva, he does the real damage on the ground. This is why everyone (including Dos Santos) is expecting Velasquez to not bother exchanging with the champion and instead choosing to take him down and assume the top position before pounding out a decisive victory.
Junior Dos Santos has spent little if any time fighting off his back in the UFC, and since it’s almost a certainty that Cain will devote most of his energy to takedowns, the story of this fight is the question as to what will happen to Dos Santos when he is finally taken out of his element for an extended period of time. The vision for the main event resembles one of two scenarios: Either Velasquez keeps Junior on the ground and wears him out or gets the KO, or Dos Santos avoids the take downs by punching Velasquez in the face and ending the fight. Which one is more likely to come true? No one can really say, because considering the way both fighters can completely dominate whoever is put in front of them, the heavyweight title has just as much of a chance to change hands as it does to stay in those of Junior Dos Santos in this main event for the ages.
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