By Ryan Busuttil
By the time the co-main event came around, the fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena were hoping for a turn of events. The first 3 fights on the card were mainly grappling matches with 2 decisions and a 3rd round finish and the crowd let those fighters know that they were not impressed with their performances. Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon had a tall order. But they did not disappoint.
Both fighters came out swinging with Miller landing some early inside leg kicks to help set up uppercuts against the cage. Miller hurt Lauzon with some of those uppercuts 90 seconds into the round that slightly opened up Lauzon’s left eye. Looking back, Lauzon would probably wish that’s as bad as it got. Miller followed up with some vicious right elbows to Lauzon’s head. Suddenly, Lauzon’s left eye was his good eye as he was badly cut above his right eye. Referee Yve Levine immediately called for the doctor to check Lauzon at the first break in the action. The doctor gave the go ahead for the fight to continue. After the break, Lauzon went for a takedown but Miller stuffed it. Both fighters traded punches until Lauzon seemed to hurt Miller with a knee to the midsection at 3:25. But, Miller kept pushing forward with combinations. The round ended with both fighters doing their best Rock Em Sock Em robot impressions. The crowd appreciated the action as they were on their feet at the close of the round. Miller seemed to win Round 1 10-9.
Miller started the 2nd round with more combinations and took Lauzon down 30 seconds in, giving Lauzon a chance to work his Jiu Jitsu. However, the blood started pouring out of Lauzon’s head again, which made it difficult for Lauzon to see. Miller went for a D’Arce choke which allowed Lauzon to sweep Miller and get on top. The referee called a stop to the action at 3:30 due to one of Lauzon’s wraps getting untied. When action was restarted, Lauzon was able to get into side control with 40 seconds left and goes for a leg lock, but Miller managed to get out of it and attempted another D’Arce choke. Lauzon ended the round on Miller’s back and the Octagon canvas was covered in red. Lauzon did enough to win the round 10-9.
With the crowd cheering them on and both fighters seeming to acknowledge how much fun this fight was when they touched gloves, the final round began with Miller knocking Lauzon down with an inside leg kick. Lauzon tried to stay on the ground, but Miller didn’t want any of that. They traded punches with Miller getting the better of the exchanges, but it was obvious that both men were exhausted at this point. Lauzon fought back with a knee to the body that backed Miller up, but he was unable to capitalize. Lauzon did manage to cut Miller under his left eye, but it was nowhere as bad as the damage to his own eye. With a minute left in the fight, the action picked back up. Lauzon dove to Miller’s legs and got an ankle lock with 30 seconds left, but Miller escaped only to get caught in a front choke that Lauzon held until the final bell. Miller won the round 10-9 based on landing more effective strikes.
Miller won 29-28 on all 3 judges’ scorecards. But the real winners were the fans who were treated to a great back and forth fight that saved what was up until the point a lackluster Pay-Per View card. With the win, Miller (22-4) bounces back after his loss to Nate Diaz back in May and prevents him from losing 2 in a row for the first time in his career. The loss ends Lauzon’s (22-8) 2012 with a 1-2 record with both losses coming to top 10 lightweights in Miller and Anthony Pettis. But, both fighters earned themselves some job security with their performances tonight.
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