When it was announced that Jamie Varner would be making his return to the UFC for a May bout against Edson Barboza, most observers were perplexed. A moderate 3-1 record since leaving the WEC left most under the impression Varner had not earned the opportunity and would prove fodder for the younger, more dynamic Barboza.
As fate would have it, Varner did the unthinkable, stopping Barboza with strikes in the first round and proving the naysayers wrong.
Joe Lauzon entered 2012 coming off the biggest victory of his career, a win over the highly-favoured Melvin Guillard. Much like Varner against Barboza, it was a bout Lauzon was supposed to lose. Guillard’s explosive striking and athleticism combined with his wrestling made him a stylistic nightmare for the Massachesetts native.
Much like his UFC debut against Jens Pulver five years before, it only took Lauzon one punch to change the dynamic of the bout. A straight punch dropped Guillard and it took only seconds for Lauzon to lock in a rear-naked-choke, completing the upset.
When Varner and Lauzon entered the cage on August 4th, no one anticipated the bout which would take place. A back and forth exchange which saw the fight take place on the ground and on the feet, as well as everywhere in between.
It was a beautifully violent display of the true essence of mixed martial arts. Through the violence were two professional mixed martial arts fighters showing every facet of their craft. Although Lauzon may have walked away with his hand raised following a late third round submission, Varner put on a performance few anticipated he was capable of. Unquestionably, Varner earned himself a return trip to the octagon and a place in the history of the UFC.