Photo by: Esther Lin / SHOWTIME
With less than two weeks until fight night, Chris Leben has a new dance partner at UFC 155, which will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Karlos Vemola has been forced out of the middleweight match because of an undisclosed injury and will be replaced by Strikeforce veteran Derek Brunson.
Surprise! Not really.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has once again had to adjust one of its fight cards on the fly, replacing an injured Karlos Vemola with Derek Brunson opposite Chris Leben at the upcoming UFC 155 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which is scheduled to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 29, 2012.
Brunson, a Strikeforce veteran, announced the last-minute switch on his Facebook page earlier this afternoon. The promotion has not confirmed the makeshift middleweight mash up at this time nor is the nature of the injury that forced Vemola off the card completely clear.
Regardless, Brunson appears to be tasked with making his Octagon debut on less than two weeks notice, while riding a back-to-back losing streak. The three-time Division 2 All-American wrestler was knocked out by Brazilian jiu-jitsu stud Ronaldo Souza in his most recent appearance at Strikeforce: "Rousey vs. Kaufman" this past August.
Affectionately referred to as the "Human Blanket" on Wikipedia (for now), Brunson also dropped a split decision to UFC veteran Kendall Grove at ShoFight 20 over the summer.
Leben, meanwhile, has had a rough time recently with a lengthy suspension from mixed martial arts (MMA) after testing positive for prescription pain killers following UFC 138. He has a history of substance abuse, and this was yet another consequence of that lifelong battle.
"The Crippler" is coming off a loss to Mark Munoz -- the first-ever five-round UFC non-title main event -- when his corner opted to stop the fight after the second round. Just prior to that, he scored a 27-second knockout win over Brazilian legend Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132.
UFC 155 will feature a colossal heavyweight rematch between division kingpin Junior dos Santos, defending his world title against the man he defeated to win it, Cain Velasquez, in the main event of the evening. In the co-featured fight of the night, two men who are about 100 pounds lighter -- Jim Miller vs. Joe Lauzon -- will collide in an important Lightweight showdown.
Three Middleweight match ups will round out the televised PPV main card, highlighted by a rematch between Alan Belcher, who will look to avenge his first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) loss to former number one 185-pound contender, Yushin Okami.