The UFC 155 event last night (Dec. 29, 2012) did not get off to the best start, with three straight middleweight fights that left the crowd a bit restless.
But everyone knew there was absolutely no chance that the co-main event, a lightweight match-up featuring bonus hog Joe Lauzon and the incredibly dependable and consistent Jim Miller, would disappoint.
And boy, were they right.
Starting with an opening exchange all the way until the final furious minute, both 155-ers put on a show for the fans in a true display of heart and grit that left the audience and likely the spectators at home breathless.
It all began with the opening blitz from Miller, who quickly took control with furious straight punches and hooks straight up the middle which found a home against Lauzon early on.
As Lauzon backed away into the fence, Miller pounced, crushing the Boston-area fighter with a series of elbows which stunned "J-Lau" and opened up a massive gash on his forehead which would affect him for the remainder of the fight. Miller never let off the gas, attacking at every opportunity and forcing Lauzon to cover up.
When the head strikes weren't available, Miller blasted Lauzon with an extremely powerful inside leg kick which repeatedly staggered the Bostonian.
By the end of the first round, Lauzon was a bloody mess and both men were spent.
That didn't stop Miller from going on the offensive quickly in the second round, pouncing on a takedown opportunity and looking to pass through his opponent's guard. Lauzon put up some initial resistance but was on bottom for the first half of the round before escaping a D'Arce choke attempt and taking top control for the latter half of the round.
This was a "catch-up" round for both men as they went right back to trying to kill each other the second the third round began.
With both men exhausted, Miller's most effective strike in the third round was that brutal inside leg kick, landing effectively and repeatedly knocking Lauzon either off balance or actually to the ground whenever it connected. By this point in the fight, Miller's elbows had not only opened up the brutal forehead gash, but also a cut on Lauzon's left eye and the top of his head.
Despite having lost a significant amount of blood, Lauzon never gave up, which has always been his most endearing quality. With Miller about to win a decision, Lauzon beautifully rolled for a heel hook, nearly catching Miller although he was able to get two hands on Lauzon's single arm to free himself from trouble. After one last guillotine choke in the final seconds, Lauzon's comeback attempt had just come up short as Miller was awarded a unanimous decision from all three cageside judges.
For Joe Lauzon, he was one good crank away from one of the best comebacks in MMA history. That first round was one of the most one-sided shellackings that a man has ever taken as Miller's output was tremendous. He was battered, bruised and bloody, but he never gave up. While it would have been nice to see him utilize some better defensive tactics in the early goings-on, he stepped up his game after the midway point of the fight with his reversal of position against Miller and then his "never-say-die" attitude in the third round. If he had pulled off the heel hook in the final minute, this fight would have been a near lock for "Fight of the Year." If for some reason fans weren't on board with Lauzon before last night, he more than likely swayed them with his showing.
For Jim Miller, his performance in the first round of this fight was the best we've ever seen him. His striking was on point, he was tenacious and he never let up. His elbows, punches and kicks were accurate and very powerful, not only opening up some gruesome cuts but also hurting Lauzon badly. He nearly had the fight stopped on a couple of occasions, but Lauzon was just too tough for his own good. You won't find any complaints about his cardio here despite the fact that he gassed simply because of the ridiculous output in that opening five minutes. Fighters are supposed to have won the fight after destroying someone that badly, but Lauzon just refused to lose. Props to Miller for doing a gutcheck and continuing to step forward despite his exhaustion.
There are plenty of options available for Miller for his next bout. He could face fellow UFC 155 winner Jamie Varner, recent UFC on FX 6 winner Ross Pearson or perhaps the man he replaced to get on this card, Gray Maynard.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did this fight redeem the pay-per-view in your eyes? Where do you rank Miller vs. Lauzon on your "Fight of the Year" lists? Do you think either of these men could someday fight for a title?