UFC 155: Wrestling Observer Picks & Preview

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By Josh Nason

In years past, New Year's Eve was associated with big MMA cards -- nearly exclusively in Japan -- but times have changed. The UFC has attempted to revive this tradition on NYE weekend and are closing out an interesting 2012 with an interesting rematch for the UFC heavyweight title.

Headlining yet another card that got hit hard from injuries (fitting!), UFC 155 does have a nice lineup of fights that hopefully will close out the year right. If not? There's another show in three weeks.

Our panel:

- Dave Meltzer (98-46): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Todd Martin (88-56): Weekly FFD guest & RAW recapper | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sempervive (91-53): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

- Mike Sawyer (88-56) of Tough Talk

- Josh Nason (85-55): FFD guest | FIGHT! Magazine | Bloody Elbow

- Oliver Copp (85-53) of "Oliver Knows" fame

Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos (15-1) vs. Cain Velasquez (10-1): The Rematch

The rematch from their November 2011 clash is finally here and the question of how much Velasquez's knee injury was a factor in their first encounter will hopefully be answered. dos Santos has actually fought just once since winning the title, a convincing second round TKO win over Frank Mir in May. Since losing the belt, Velasquez has also fought once, destroying Antonio Silva by 1st round TKO.

Can Velasquez get a takedown? How good is dos Santos' BJJ? Was the first fight a fluke or was it simply the start of a long title run? Can dos Santos survive deep waters? We'll get the answers and more Saturday night.

dos Santos: Meltzer, Sempervive, Martin, Copp, Nason
Velasquez: Sawyer

Joe Lauzon (22-7) vs. Jim Miller (21-4)

The 28-year-old Lauzon was originally slated to fight Gray Maynard before, you know, an injury. He now looks to tie the UFC all-time record for bonuses against Miller, a fellow BJJ expert. Lauzon has only been submitted once in the last six years and has won three of his last four. Miller has been on the shelf since a May second round submission loss to Nate Diaz and has lost two of his last three (Diaz, Benson Henderson).

Lauzon: Nason
Miller: Meltzer, Sempervive, Martin, Sawyer, Copp

Tim Boetsch (16-4) vs. Costa Philippou (11-2-0-1)

The 31-year-old Boetsch was originally slated to fight Michael Bisping and then Chris Weidman, but due to injuries to both, he gets Costa Phillipou instead -- quite a step down in terms of star power. Boetsch is looking to extend a four fight win streak and like Alan Belcher, is fighting for contention at 185 pounds. Philippou also has four straight wins and was supposed to fight Nick Ring in November before Ring got sick on fight day.

Boetsch: Sempervive, Sawyer, Nason, Copp
Philippou: Meltzer, Martin

Yushin Okami (27-7) vs. Alan Belcher (18-6): The Rematch

The 28-year-old Belcher continues his push for a middleweight title shot on Saturday, looking to extend a four fight win streak. Since returning from a long injury layoff, he's beaten Jason MacDonald by first round submission and Rousimar Palhares by first round TKO. He takes on former title contender Okami, who snapped a two-fight losing streak with an August second round TKO win over Buddy Roberts. The two fought once before at UFC 62 in August 2006, a unanimous decision for Okami.

Okami: Martin
Belcher: Meltzer, Sempervive, Nason, Sawyer, Copp

Chris Leben (22-8) vs. Derek Brunson (9-2)

The 32-year-old Leben returns from a year-plus layoff due to a positive test for PEDs following a November 2011 loss to Mark Munoz. Before that point, he had lost two of three last year. Originally slated to face Karlos Vemola, the 28-year-old Brunson stepped up when Vemola got hurt. A Strikeforce transplant, he has lost his last two, the last being a 41 second knockout to Jacare Souza.

Leben: Meltzer, Nason, Martin, Sawyer, Copp
Brunson: Sempervive

Dave Meltzer is live in Las Vegas and will be doing play-by-play all night long.

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