On Saturday, Dec. 29, the UFC returned to its home of Las Vegas to hold UFC 155 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

In the headlining bout, heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos rematched the man he defeated to earn the belt, Cain Velasquez.

In addition to the main event, the pay-per-view main card also featured a pivotal lightweight clash between Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon, as well as a trio of middleweight bouts as Tim Boetsch faced Constantinos Philippou, Alan Belcher locked horns with Yushin Okami and Chris Leben returned from suspension to welcome Strikeforce-import Derek Brunson to the Octagon.

The event featured a total of 12 bouts. Prior to the 10 p.m ET pay-per-view main card, a two-hour, four-fight showcase aired on FX at 8 p.m ET, while three bouts streamed live on the promotion’s YouTube page at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Velasquez dominates Dos Santos, becomes two-time champion

After losing his belt to Junior dos Santos in November of 2011, a healthy Cain Velasquez proved once again that he’s the top heavyweight in the world with a lopsided beatdown of the Brazilian.

Velasquez opened the fight by pushing the champion against the fence and scoring a takedown. Dos Santos scrambled back to his feet, but Velasquez unloaded with a big right hand that sent dos Santos crashing to the mat. Velasquez flurried and it appeared that referee Herb Dean might halt the bout, but dos Santos dug deep and survived the onslaught.

It was more of the same in the second stanza as Velasquez was relentless with his takedowns. Dos Santos frequently worked back to standing, only to dumped back to the canvas. Velasquez continued to deliver punishment throughout, but the champion absorbed the blows.

The pace slowed considerably in the final three rounds, as Velasquez’s pace took its toll on both combatants. Dos Santos’ face swelled badly from the assault, but the Brazilian continued to fire back from close quarters. Although he displayed the heart of a champion, dos Santos was never able to put together any offense and Velasquez took home an easy decision win to recapture the belt.

“This was the hardest fight of my life,” Velasquez said in his post-fight speech, avenging his 64-second knockout loss to dos Santos.

“Tonight, he was better than me,” dos Santos said in defeat. “But I will be back.”

Miller edges Lauzon in bloody war

Lightweights Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon went to war in the night’s co-main event, with Miller coming out victorious in one of the bloodiest fights in UFC history.

Miller came out very aggressive, battering Lauzon with a variety of strikes. An elbow from inside the clinch opened a massive cut over Lauzon’s right eye. Referee Yves Lavinge immediately called in the doctor to look at it, but they allowed the Boston native to continue. Miller continued to attack, forcing Lauzon to cover up multiple times.

It was more of the same at the beginning of the second round, as Miller pounded away at Lauzon on the feet. Miller scored with a takedown and worked for a D’arce choke on Lauzon, but Lauzon escaped and took the top position. Miller neutralized the submission ace with rubber guard, but Lauzon looked for a leg lock in the closing seconds of the round.

The final round was slower than the opening two, but Lauzon showed tremendous resolve to fight through his crimson mask. Miller’s striking assault switched to Lauzon’s legs, but Lauzon never stopped coming forward. Lauzon desperately looked for a submission in the waning moments of the fight, but it wasn’t enough as Miller claimed the unanimous decision victory.

Philippou stops a battered Boetsch

Middleweight Constantinos Philippou stretched his winning streak to five fights with a third-round TKO win over Tim Boetsch.

Boetsch looked strong in the opening round, putting Philippou on his back and working ground and pound. Philippou scrambled back to his feet and appeared to find his range late, but Boetsch dropped him late with a front kick to the face.

In between rounds, Boetsch revealed a broken hand which severely limited his offense in the final two rounds. An inadvertent head butt opened a large cut on Boetsch’s forehead and an eye poke only compounded things for the veteran. Philippou capitalized, stuffing Boetsch’s desperate takedown attempts and raining big shots from inside the guard.

The final round saw Boetsch bleed all over the cage and his vision was clearly affected. Philippou continued his onslaught, forcing referee Kim Winslow to call a halt to the contest two minutes into the final frame.

Okami smothers Belcher

In a fight that was very reminiscent of their first meeting, middleweight Yushin Okami controlled Alan Belcher from the opening bell en route to a lopsided decision win.

Belcher never got his offense going as Okami pressured him against the fence right away. Although Belcher was able to reverse a trip takedown and land on top, he attempted a guillotine choke and gave up position. Okami escaped the submission attempt and worked with grinding top control.

The second round was a replay of the first, as Belcher again reversed a trip, attempted a guillotine, and ended up on his back. Belcher capitalized on a questionable standup from the referee to land a big right hand, but Okami put him on the mat yet again.

Belcher opened the third very aggressively, and actually landed in the full mount when he reversed yet another Okami trip. He moved to Okami’s back, but Okami escaped and took the dominant position once more. He wouldn’t relinquish the position and coasted to the final bell.

Brunson tops Leben in UFC debut

Stepping in on late notice, Strikeforce veteran Derek Brunson used his wrestling prowess to best veteran Chris Leben by decision. Leben had been out of action since UFC 138 in late 2011 due to a drug suspension, but the Ultimate Fighter alum was a shell of his former self against Brunson.

Brunson scored with a takedown early in the opening round, setting the tone for the rest of the fight. Leben scrambled to his feet on multiple occasions, but Brunson’s grappling and top control took their toll on the veteran as he landed takedown after takedown.

Other than a brief arm-triangle attempt from Brunson, the fight was never close to a finish. The pace slowed heavily as the fight progressed, but Brunson did more than enough to convince the judges to give him the victory.

Preliminary Card Summary

In a dominant striking display, Eddie Wineland picked up his second straight win with a decision over Brad Pickett. The two bantamweights largely engaged in a boxing match with four-ounce gloves, but it was Wineland’s use of range and footwork that was simply too much for Pickett.

Bantamweight Erik Perez continued his ascension through the 135-pound ranks with a violent, first-round stoppage of Byron Bloodworth. Perez dropped Bloodworth with a knee to the body and then rained punches and elbows to force the referee to intervene.

Despite having to wait an additional two weeks due to an illness, lightweight Jamie Varner was able to outwork Melvin Guillard and take home a decision win. Varner’s wrestling neutralized the explosive Guillard from the opening bell and he cruised to victory.

Myles Jury bested fellow lightweight and Ultimate Fighter alum Michael Johnson with a one-sided performance to kick off the FX broadcast. Jury put Johnson on his back in each round and prevented Johnson from mounting any offense to keep his perfect record intact.

Todd Duffee made a successful return to the Octagon by dispatching of British heavyweight Phil De Fries with a barrage of right hands. The stoppage came just two minutes into the first round.

In a back-and-forth battle, Max Holloway edged out veteran Leonard Garcia in a closely-contested split decision. The two featherweights traded for the majority of the three-round affair, but in the end, two of the three judges rewarded the young Hawaiian for his efforts.

Flyweight John Moraga moved to 2-0 in the UFC by forcing Chris Cariaso to tap to a third-round guillotine choke along the fence. The opening two rounds were fairly close, but Moraga used his size advantage to overwhelm Cariaso in the final frame.

FULL RESULTS
Cain Velasquez def. Junior dos Santos by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-43, 50-44) – new heavyweight champion
Jim Miller def. Joe Lauzon by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Constantinos Philippou def. Tim Boetsch by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 2:11
Yushin Okami def. Alan Belcher by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Derek Brunson def. Chris Leben by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Eddie Wineland def. Brad Pickett by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
Erik Perez def. Byron Bloodworth by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 3:50
Jamie Varner def. Melvin Guillard by split decision (30-27, 27-30, 30-27)
Myles Jury def. Michael Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Todd Duffee def. Phil De Fries by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 2:04
Max Holloway def. Leonard Garcia by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
John Moraga def. Chris Cariaso by submission (guillotine choke). Round 3, 1:11

Photo: Cain Velasquez (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)

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