They not only met expectations with their thrilling back and forth war, but they exceeded them.
Both Varner and Lauzon laid into each other with big punhes, kicks, flurries, takedowns, sweeps and submission attempts for nearly three full rounds, but it was Lauzon who had his hand raised in the end.
So how did Lauzon pull off the victory in a fight he very well could have been losing up until that point? And what happens next for both men?
Follow me after the jump for our Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner UFC on Fox 4 post-fight review and analysis
Early on, Varner started very strong. He landed his right hand consistently and pressed the action, even rocking Lauzon in the beginning of the round.
Lauzon was no slouch, however, and fought back with a big series of strikes of his own, even potentially winning back the round as Varner's pace slowed. Just when it looked like Lauzon had the round in the bag, Varner clipped him again with a huge right hook and sent him to the canvas.
To his credit, Lauzon defended himself admirably on the ground, even attacking with an inverted armbar attempt to keep "C-4" at bay.
By the second round, Varner's pace had definitely slowed from the blistering start to the first. He was still throwing slick combinations, but he wasn't throwing his right hand as hard as he used to. By the end of the round, I was certain that he had broken his right hand (and I'm pretty sure that ended up being the case).
Despite being tired and having an injured hand, Varner still got the better of the striking exchanges, throwing solid combinations, mixing in leg kicks and he started throwing his left hand better, mixing up both to the head and body.
Lauzon responded by scoring some takedowns and threatening Varner with back control. Just when you thought Lauzon might be getting the submission, Varner used all his energy to stand up and shake him off.
By the third round, both men were exhausted. Varner started very strong, but he also mixed in takedown attempts of his own. He put Lauzon on his back but a sweep got both men to their feet. The next time Varner took Lauzon down, "J-Lau" scored a huge reversal and immediately transitioned to a triangle choke during the ensuing scramble. After a brief struggle, Lauzon repositioned his legs around Varner's neck and forced the MMA Lab fighter to tap out.
It was a bout that more than deserved two bonuses as both men received "Fight of the Night" and Lauzon took home the "Submission of the Night" as well.
For Jamie Varner, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He put his heart and soul on the line last night. That was an epic battle and considering he took the fight on short notice, you can't blame him for getting tired. He gave it everything he had and was winning the fight on my scorecard up until he got submitted in the third round. His striking looks as good as it ever has and he was ripping off some huge combinations and finishing them with power. I thought his leg kicks were solid as well. He just didn't have enough left in the tank to fend off Lauzon the last time.
For Joe Lauzon, this was one of the best displays of heart and endurance of his career. He took Jamie Varner's best shot for over two rounds and was able to defend himself just enough to survive and then turn the tide. He was never overwhelmed by Varner's offense and made sure to get his licks in and his offensive grappling was on point all night. When he finally got that submission hold locked in, he made sure not to blow the opportunity and he definitely deserved to rake in those bonuses.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was this bout worthy of "Fight of the Year" consideration? What do you make of this new and improved version of Jamie Varner we've seen in his last two UFC fights? Could either of these guys be future 155 pound contenders?