It was delayed, but it was worth the wait.
Two weeks ago, Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner were scheduled to fight on the Ultimate Fighter Finale card. The fight ended up being canceled when Varner showed up to Las Vegas sick and was reported to have been vomiting backstage. It was here that the fight was canceled. Soon after, the fight was rescheduled to tonight's UFC 155 card since both this and the Ultimate Fighter Finale card were in the same city. The wait turned out to be one of those good twists of fate for the mixed martial arts fans watching Saturday night.
In the first round, Guillard worked in a lot of leg kicks and most of them were on target. Varner finally came alive at the end of the opening round, landing some nice punches and locking on a guillotine choke as the round ended. Round two saw Guillard work in plenty of punches with the leg kicks. Both men made plenty of contact in this round with their punches, though nothing that knocked either man down or stunned them badly. That is more a testament to the chins of these two and their ability to take punches rather than the power behind the punches they were throwing.
Varner dominated the final round and gained the decision victory thanks to him forcing the fight to the ground. Varner's takedowns kept Guillard at bay and he demonstrated his superiority on the ground over Guillard in several ways: when Guillard would attempt an escape or reversal it would be stopped, when Guillard got away he was taken back down soon after, and when Guillard who counter it would be countered back by Varner almost immediately.
This fight also stands out because of its wild finish. In the final seconds of the fight, Varner shot in for a takedown and ate a knee to the liver from Guillard. Guillard followed this up by landing a punch or two to the other side of Varner's body. Varner reacted to this by scooping Guillard up legs first and slamming him basically on his head. Guillard was lucky that he tucked his head in when Varner went for the slam, otherwise he would have landed right on top of his head. And even after all of that, Guillard didn't miss a beat and locked on an armbar immediately after being slammed. Unfortunately for him, he locked the hold on the moment the fight ended.
The fight was a very close and competitive one with both men aiming to hurt with their punches and rarely willing to deviate from what was basically a boxing match. Wineland got the best of the opening round with big, hard punches where you could hear the sound of the impact. Several times Wineland rocked Pickett's head back with these punches. Pickett was knocked to the canvas no less than three times during the round from single punches by Wineland.
However, Pickett basically gave back what he received in a third round nearly as dominant as Wineland's opening round. And during those first two rounds that saw Pickett eat many rough shots from Wineland, Pickett never once backed down, continued to approach, and was the more aggressive fighter despite taking most of the punishment that was dished out.
Max Holloway finished 2012 with his third win in four fights during the year. In defeat, Leonard Garcia gave another reminder as to why he is one of the most exciting fighters, pound-for-pound, in all of mixed martial arts. Holloway ended up with a controversial split decision win, something (a close decision) that has become associated with competitive and close fights involving Garcia.
After a brief feeling out period, both men began throwing and landing the big shots. First it was Holloway landing with a left that send Garcia to the canvas momentarily, but a big right from Garcia not too long after evened things out for the remainder of the round.
After a second round where momentum seemed to be swinging toward Garcia, round three became a full-on brawl. Both men traded punches for the majority of the round with Holloway's face beginning to swell up as a result. This round best fit Garcia's more throw-before-thinking kind of style and that's why Holloway seemed to want the fight to go to the ground late. Holloway even attempted to lock on a triangle choke in the final seconds only to be slammed “Rampage Style” by Garcia.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for Garcia, who was originally scheduled to face Cody McKenzie. An injury to McKenzie resulted in Holloway stepping in.
Todd Duffee returned to UFC in style after two and a half years of fighting elsewhere, earning a first-round TKO win over Philip De Fries. After the first minute saw Duffee's knees and De Fries' takedowns on display, Duffee caught De Fries with a right uppercut that stunned De Fries. From there, Duffee unleashed an onslaught of punches that continued to catch De Fries, but not knock him down. When Duffee's flurry finally did put De Fries on the canvas, referee Yves Lavigne stopped the fight just over two minutes in.
In the opening bout of the night, John Moraga scored his second victory in as many UFC fights with a submission of Chris Cariaso. The end came early in round three of an even fight that was very striking-based through the first two rounds. Those two rounds featured Moraga sticking to boxing and standing strikes while Cariaso was landing knees and left kicks. Just over a minute into the final round, Moraga was against the cage and got a headlock on Cariaso. Moraga was then able to switch position, pinning Cariaso against the cage. Moraga cinched up his grip on Cariaso's head and was able to lock in a guillotine choke for the win at 1:11 of the final round.
Myles Jury remained undefeated in his pro mixed martial arts career with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Michael Johnson. Jury dominated a fight that was on the ground for the great majority of it. Jury dominated the fight thanks to a great exhibition of his takedown and mat wrestling talent. The win moves Jury's pro record to 11-0.
And Eric Perez remained undefeated in UFC, winning his third fight with the promotion. Perez stopped Byron Bloodworth in the first round with punches after he had Bloodworth on the canvas right next to the cage.
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