The main card cracker took a while to bang, but when it did it was worth the wait.
Junior Dos Santos put his heavyweight title on the line against Cain Velsaquez. The man he had made quick work out last November.
It wasn't the same this time round as both fighters went to war for 25, exciting, minutes.
The co-main event featured a lightweight battle between submission experts Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller. This battle was one of the bloodiest in UFC history and both fighters laid it all on the line for 15, grueling, minutes.
But before we got to those fights, it was the turn of the Middleweights:
Chris Leben made his return to the UFC, a year after failing a drug test, against, UFC newcomer, Derek Brunson.
Yushin Okami looked to continue his climb up the middleweight ladder as he fought, in-form, Alan Belcher.
And Tim Boetsch looked to improve his terrific year as he took on rising star Costa Philippou.
So sit back and enjoy Split Decision's review of the last UFC event of the year.
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
The first fight of the evening saw Chris Leben make his return to the UFC against newcomer Derek Brunson.
The fight began with Brunson throwing a few fast kicks and grabbing a bodylock, to take the fight to the ground. When on the floor, Leben looked for a submission and attempted to scramble back to his feet but Brunson kept him down.
A minute past of Brunson laying on top and then he briefly let his opponent up, before taking it straight back down. He threatened with an arm triangle and then landed some elbows from top position. Leben managed to get to his feet, but with less than a minute remaining in the round, he had little time to respond. And the round ended.
The second round opened with Leben landing a punch on Brunson's chin and Brunson responding by shooting for a takedown. At first Leben resisted, but he couldn't resist for long, as Brunson redoubled his efforts and took his back to the ground.
This time, Leben, found the cage sooner and was back to his feet. It seemed the right time for Leben to do what he does best, and unleash on his opponent. But Brunson was the one who looked stronger on the feet, as Leben was clearly looking jaded. The time away from the cage, clearly taking its toll on him.
As the clock ticked down in the round, Brunson also looked tired. He had spent the second half of the round circling and took a knee as it ended.
The third round started with two tired fighters looking to find that last bit of gas to take them over the finish line. Leben was pushing forward a bit more, but after resisting one attempt was taken down to the ground. This giving Brunson some rest but also plenty of time to work, which he didn't do. Leben was able to get back to his feet and try to land some big punches. Brunson covered up and fired back with some nice one-two combinations.
Leben kept looking to end the fight, but it was Brunson and his wrestling that halted this late onslaught.
During the round, Brunson, kept looking towards the clock and as the bell sounded for the end of the match he let out a scream.
Not the most impressive of debuts from Brunson or return to action from Leben. It was scored 29-28 on all three scorecards to Brunson.
Dana White was clearly not happy after the fight and regretted putting the fight on the main card, as he said at the post-fight press conference:
"I love Chris Leben, personally and professionally. But tonight, I think I made a mistake putting him on the pay-per-view. I should have had him on the undercard. He's been off with personal problems for a while. He's had a lot of time off, and he looked slow tonight. I wasn't crazy about that fight. That wasn't my favorite fight of the night, that's for damn sure.
The other kid was looking at the clock like he was a 14-year-old waiting for school to get out the entire fight – looking at the clock," White said. "You're in the UFC your first time, and I wasn't very impressed."
Brunson,(10-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC), gets back to winning ways after going 0-2 in early 2012.
He didn't look the greatest of fighters in his debut, but his wrestling definitely helped him. To him a win is a win though and he can now enjoy his new year.
Leben, (22-9 MMA, 12-8 UFC), returns from suspension looking jaded and will look to bounce back stronger in 2013.
Everyone knows Leben is not a quitter and with more fights in the new year, he can definitely return to winning ways.
SplitDecision Rating: 4/10
An uneventful return to action for Chris Leben, with Brunson looking more like a high school wrestler, than fighter.
Yushin Okami defeats Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Surely it could get better in our next fight as, former middleweight title contender, Yushin Okami took on, in-form, Alan Belcher.
The fight began and was soon against the cage, were both fighters battled for position. It was Belcher, though, who was able to land the first significant moment of the match. He scored a trip takedown and went to work on a guillotine choke. The choke couldn't find it's hope and he looked to work from his guard.
But this is where Okami likes to be. He worked his way to side control and smothered Belcher with his shoulders. He did little work from the top position and looked for a choke, which wasn't there, as the round came to a close.
The second began with Okami pushing forward and looking to take the fight back to the ground. He succeeded but found himself on the bottom. With Belcher on top, you'd expect him to work. Instead he pulled guard and looked for another guillotine choke. The attempt failed and Okami was back on top, where he continued his smothering of his opponent.
Okami looked to be cruising in the round and gained good position n side control. But the referee saw a lack of action and gave Belcher a chance by standing the fighters up. But he couldn't capitalize and Okami got the fight back to the ground and got himself back to top position. The fight continued with not much work from Okami and Belcher trying to escape. With 30 seconds left in the round, the ref stood them up again. Nothing much happened as round two came to a close.
Belcher needed to finish Okami and started the third by letting his hands go. A right hand found its home and dropped Okami. Okami was near the cage as he stood up and as Belcher came in, Okami was able to land a trip takedown, but ended up on the bottom.
Belcher took Okami's back, but Okami stood up and out of the choke, with Belcher holding on. As he spun out of it, Belcher latched on to a standing guillotine. He couldn't hold it and this got Okami out of trouble, who got the floor to the ground and back to top position. From here he worked his way to full mount and looked to land some ground and pound on Belcher. Belcher tried to escape but it was Okami who found his way back to mount and rode of the round on top.
The judges giving their verdict: 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 in favour of Okami.
How wrong I was that things would pick up. It was typical Yushin Okami, just looking to hold his opponent down and not work too hard to finish the fight.
He has the ability to finish fights and It must have been frustrating for Belcher to be held down.
Okami,(28-7 MMA, 12-4 UFC), extends his winning run to two fights and ends the year on a high.
The only downfall for Okami is that he has only recently had a title shot and if he wants a rematch he needs to come out in 2013 with all guns blazing.
Belcher,(18-7 MMA, 9-5 UFC), has his four fight win streak snapped and any thoughts of a higher tier opponent banished.
SplitDecision rating: 3/10
Nothing to get excited about with this fight.
Costa Philippou defeats Tim Boetsch via TKO
The last, of three, middleweight fights came to a close as Tim Boetsch looked to extend his winning run against, in-form, Costa Philippou.
The first round began with Boetsch quickly clinching up his opponent and securing a takedown. He wasn't able to capitalize though as Philippou got straight back to his feet and resisted another attempt.
In the center of the cage both fighters where looking to do damage. A cracking uppercut from Philippou hit Boetsch hard but he continued forward, eating another punch, and executed a takedown. On the ground he was unable to do anything and the referee stood them back up.
Boetsch was looking stronger on the feet and landed a front kick, which dropped his opponent. The bell halting Boetsch from swarming in.
Between rounds, Boetsch looked in some discomfort and his trainer, Matt Hume, could be heard advising him to fight through the pain.
The second began with Boetsch closing the distance and looking to work knees on the fence. These attempts missed and it allowed Philippou to score nice punches, which cut Boetsch on the forehead.
Boetsch then looked to take the fight to the mat, but took a poke to the eye. After a brief rest
Attempting to take the fight to the mat, Boetsch took a poke to the eye. Upon the restart, Phillippou came out swinging, as Boetsch again looked for a takedown. He was unsuccessful and ended up pulling guard and took some blows from half guard.
Boetsch was dealing with an injury which was slowing draining him of the ability to perform. Between rounds his coach asked him if he wanted to quit and a forceful "NO" was given.
Boetsch showed his heart and came out for the third.
Philippou sensed something was wrong with Boetsch and pushed forward to start the round. Boetsch looked for another takedown which was unsuccessful and again pulled guard. Philippou wasn't having any of it and stayed on his feet.
On his feet, Boetsch tried for two more takedown but failed with both. Philippou opened up and landed a flurry of hammerfists, which had Boetsch covering up, and caused the referee to stop the fight at 2:11 of the third.
Philippou, (12-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC), extends his winning run to five after losing his UFC debut back in 2011.
He is definitely a man in form and will be hoping to push himself ever closer to the title picture in 2013.
Boetsch, (16-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC), has his four fight win streak halted and any momentum sapped.
A win in this fight would have confirmed his position near the top of the division but now finds himself out of the picture.
One thing is for sure, he showed some heart to carry on while injured.
Split Decision Rating: 6/10
Philippou showed he is a man in form and someone who definitely snaps up an opportunity when it comes.
Jim Miller defeats Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
It was the turn of the lightweights next as Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon served up a "blood filled", post Christmas cracker.
The fight began with Miller coming out fast and looking to strike early. He landed a solid inside leg kick and pushed forward with a combination. Another inside leg kick put Lauzon to his knees. But as he was getting up, Miller swarmed him with a lots of punches which had covering up.
Miller wasn't going to slow down as the round progressed and continued to push forward, landing more punches and only eating a few in return. He then changed tactics and landed elbow after elbow, from standing position, which bloodied up Lauzon's forehead. Miller then looked for a standing arm triangle. It was unsuccessful and as they broke apart, the referee stopped the bout so that a doctor could look at Lauzon's cut. Lauzon was cleaned up, given the OK and the fight continued.
Lauzon pushed forward and landed a nice knee to the body of his opponent. But this didn't cause Miller any problems as he continued his big combinations of punches and elbows to end the round. Lauzon went back to his corner, with blood gushing from his forehead, but cheers from the ground who where loving this fight.
As the second got going, Lauzon fell back into guard looking to execute one of his many submissions. Miller wasn't falling for it and worked on top form half-guard, keeping Lauzon at bay. As blood was spilled all over the canvas, Miller looked for a D'Arce choke. Lauzon quickly got out of it and reversed positions to find himself on top, with Miller's back against the cage.
Miller looked for a triangle, for it was Lauzon who ended the round the stronger. He latched on to one of Miller's legs, grabbing a leg lock. Miller looked in trouble but survived to the end of the round.
A thrilling match which definitely warranted a third round.
The third got going with an inside leg kick from Miller which tripped Lauzon. But Lauzon worked his way back to Miller, who was slowing. The effects of the fast paced match catching up with him. Miller wasn't going to quit now and threw another, nasty, inside leg kick which dropped Lauzon, who fell back into guard. Not wanting to go back to ground, he got Lauzon to be stood up.
On the feet, Lauzon landed a nice knee to the body which backed Miller up, who answered with a left hand. It was a back and forth round. But with 30 seconds left to go, Lauzon beautifully dropped to the canvas and went for a heel hook. It looked a first like it was in tight and Lauzon was heading for a stunning victory. But Miller was able to work his way out, before Lauzon latched onto a guillotine choke with 10 seconds remaining. With a little more time he may have secured it, but the horn was sounded to end the fight.
Both fighters hugged each other and can be happy with a great performance. Miller took the decision 29-28 on all three judge's scorecards.
Miller, (22-4 MMA, 11-3 UFC), gets back to winning ways, after losing to Nate Diaz back in May, at UFC on FOX 3.
This win also takes him to 2-1 for the year and things look bright for him in the Lightweight division.
Lauzon, (22-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC), snaps a one fight win streak with defeat today and goes to decision for only the second time in his career.
This loss takes him to 1-2 for 2012, but is one fighter who definitely wont drop too far down the rankings. And big things can be expected from him in the new year.
SplitDecision Rating: 10/10
This is one of the fights of 2012 and a must see for all MMA fans. The way Joe Lauzon battled on with a nasty cut, to nearly submit Jim Miller, is great viewing.
Jim Miller was in fantastic form and showed how tough he is. He always brings a fast, relentless, pace and it showed here tonight.
Cain Velsaquez dethrones Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision
With little time to recover from the last fight, it was time for the main event of the evening. Where Champion Junior Dos Santos put his belt on the line against Cain Velsaquez.
The two fighters had fought just over a year ago when Velsaquez, in his first title defense, put his belt on the line against top challenger Junior Dos Santos. The fight last 64 seconds, with Junior winning by KO.
But today it was a different story, with a different outcome, and a longer battle.
The first began with Velasquez getting coming out fast and pushing the pace. He looked for a takedown and grabbed hold of his opponents waist. Dos Santos scrambled and reversed, before stopping another attempted.
Velsaquez pushed the pace and Dos Santos looked to land a few jabs. The champ took a right hand, but replied with a left and managed to shrug off another takedown. With the takedowns failing, Velasquez began to find more range with his punches.
Midway through the round, Dos Santos looked a little tired and Velasquez began to smoother his opponent against the fence.
Then, in the moment of the round, Velsaquez landed a brutal right hand, which rocked Dos Santos and sent him into survival mode. Velsaquez pounced and looked to end the fight. The round came to an end with Velsaquez at the champions back and raining down punches.
Dos Santos stood up and wobbled towards his corner, looking punch-drunk.
The second began with Velasquez resuming his assault, walking through big counter-punches, to take Dos Santos to the floor. This happened another two times before Dos Santos was able to get a brief respite.
It was only brief as Velasquez was back on Junior Dos Santos and taking him back to the floor. Velsaquez looked for an armbar, which Dos Santos escaped and found himself in top position. He didn't get long to work as Velasquez reversed and put him the champion against the cage to end the round.
Again Dos Santos looked lost as he went back to his corner.
The third began with Dos Santos finding a nice uppercut, but the strength in his punches had disappeared. Velasquez pressed them to the cage and looked to work hard. But he wasn't as hard as he was in the previous rounds.
The relentless pace of the fight had taken a toll on both fighters, but Velasquez continued to press forward through counters and imposed himself against the cage.
Breaking away, Dos Santos landed a nice uppercut and stiff body shot, to end the round.
It was easily 3-0 in rounds to the challenger and the champion had 10 minutes to finish the fight.
The fourth round began with Dos Santos finding his range early and looked to have found a second wind as he stuffed a takedown attempt and landed some nice shots in close. But Velasquez wasn't going to give up now. He survived the punches, looked to press more and smothered the champion against the cage.
Dos Santos's face was now showing the effects of a four round war. His lip was swollen and he looked like he didn't know where he was. Where as Velsaquez looked fresh and five minutes away from being champion.
In the fifth, Dos Santos continued to land nice counters as the challenger advanced. Counters weren't enough as he needed to finish the fight. He was warned by referee Herb Dean for grabbing the fence. Velsaquez then took him across the cage, looking for a takedown attempt, he held again.
But this didn't bother Velsaquez, as he continued some good punching and massive contusion's became more apparent on the champion's left brow.
Midway through the round, Velasquez got a nice takedown and managed to hold Dos Santos in half-guard. He rained down elbows and punches from top position. Dos Santos still had something in him and he managed to escape.
The champion couldn't find a finish as the challenger pushed forward and landed a brutal head kick to his face to end the round.
A new champion was crowned, via unanimous decision 50-45, 50-43, 50-44 on the judges scorecard.
Velasquez, (11-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC), extends his winning run to two and becomes the heavyweight champion for a second time.
He has looked a beast in his last two fights and surely no one can stop him now he is back on top.
For Dos Santos, (15-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC), suffers the first loss in his UFC career and first loss in 10 fights, since November 2007.
The Brazilian will definitely bounce back and showed a tremendous amount of heart.
The only down part of the fight was Dos Santos getting booed as Joe Rogan went to interview him after the fight. This was disgraceful and the fans who booed should be ashamed of themselves. JDS had just put himself through a battering and gave his all. I'd like to see anyone else in the crowd do that.
SplitDecision Rating: 10/10
Another must see for all MMA fans. JDS's heart and the brute strength of Velasquez where only two of the main qualities on show.
The fight was a true war and each fighter will have gained new fans.
My review wont do it justice, so if you haven't seen it please watch it now!
This weekend I got no picks right. I think my record is the worst in MMA and I will train hard to do better in the new year.
The $65,000 awards went to:
Fight of the Night: Joe Lauzon vs Jim Miller
Submission of the Night: John Moraga
Knockout of the Night: Todd Duffee
Fighters of the weekend: Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos