UFC’s final event of the year showcased well-known fighters as well as some of the best youngsters mixed martial arts has to offer. From top to bottom, UFC 155 was arguably the promotion’s strongest card of 2012 and it was highlighted by three fighters from Northern California.
The biggest story was Cain Velasquez’s rematch with Junior dos Santos. The two first met in historical fashion, JDS defeated Cain in a little over a minute to take the UFC heavyweight title from Velasquez last November. It was a rematch over a year in the making and lived up to the hype that had slowly been built.
Velasquez came out with an intensity that was not seen in their first meeting and JDS was not able to handle the onslaught. This heavyweight battle went the full five rounds, which in itself is amazing, but it was a one-sided bout. Many believed the two would exchange blows, but the champion JDS would come out with the title still in hand.
However, the AKA heavyweight had other plans. Cain utilized stellar wrestling and ground control to maintain the advantage throughout the bout. It was the Cain that many expected to see the last time these two met. JDS was outmatched in wrestling, striking, ground game and octagon control. It was quite visible that, although he continued to show heart, dos Santos had no clue how to defend Velasquez.
The judges agreed that Cain’s performance was a total domination and scored the unanimous decision victory in favor of Velasquez. Judges scored the bout 50-45, 50-43 and 50-44, meaning two judges gave Cain one or more 10-8 rounds. It is rare to see a champion be dominated in such a way, but Velasquez is a former champion and is now two-time UFC Heavyweight champion.
Two other fighters represented Northern California on the evening. Cain’s AKA teammate, Todd Duffee, made his return to the octagon by defeating Phil De Fries in the first-round of their heavyweight bout. De Fries had the upper hand early on, but Duffee weathered the barrage and countered with one of his own.
All it took was 2:24 for Duffee to remind folks why he belongs in the UFC. Duffee, just like Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, adds to the stable of dangerous heavyweights under AKA with bright futures in the UFC.
Going from heavyweight to flyweight, Nor Cal fighters can be found in every weight class. San Francisco’s Chris Cariaso made his second appearance at 125-pounds and took on up-and-comer John Moraga in prelim action. It was a close bout through two rounds, I had it 20-18 for Cariaso, but in the third-round Moraga came out blazing. Moraga fight like he knew he had to finish to win and he did just that.
A little over a minute into the final round, Moraga pushed Cariaso against the cage and sunk in a guillotine choke. It didn’t take too long after for Cariaso to tap. Moraga moved to 2-0 in the UFC, both were finishes.
With 2012 coming to an end, the UFC’s last event of the year certainly delivered and showed signs of good things to come in 2013. Plus, with the showing of three Nor Cal fighters, things look even brighter for Northern California.
Nitesh Dutt is a Productions Assistant and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt.