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The UFC may experience a decrease in cage-side celebrities after an incident in the co-main event of UFC 155 Saturday night.
According to UFC President Dana White, celebrity talent agent Ari Emmanuel received an unwanted surprise when Jim Miller locked in a choke on Joe Lauzon sometime in the middle of their lightweight bout. A nickel-deep cut on Lauzon’s forehead squirted blood with enough outward trajectory to land on the man who famously inspired fictional “Entourage” character Ari Gold.
“Got him good,” White laughed.
Then again, Emanuel may not have minded if he enjoyed Miller’s unanimous-decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Lauzon as much as the other 12,422 people in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Miller vs. Lauzon secured its place in many fans’ Fight of the Year lists Saturday night. The bout got several rousing ovations mid-fight, including after a wild first round that saw Lauzon never slow down despite Miller opening and attacking the gash on his face with elbows and punches.
“I tried to feed off the energy,” Miller said. “I was exhausted after that round, so I was trying to use some of that energy to bring me back.”
Lauzon had no recollection.
“I had quite a bit of blood in my eye, so I was trying to focus on that,” Lauzon said. “I didn’t notice it, but I’m glad everyone was enjoying the fight.”
With the amount of blood Lauzon lost, it counts as a minor victory that he was able to stay conscious and brawl until the final bell. The cage-side doctor checked on Lauzon twice in between rounds and once in the middle of the action.
Lauzon made it worth his while. The grappling guru was competitive in the second and third rounds, at least one judge awarded Lauzon each frame, and threw a few submission attempts at Miller that nearly completed an unforeseen comeback.
Most notably, Lauzon latched onto Miller’s leg and tried for a heel hook with 20 seconds left in the fight and transitioned to guillotine choke when he couldn’t complete it.
“The heel hook was real close,” Miller admitted. “I was able to control my wrists to push the heel down to take it away from him. I knew he was starting to set it up on the opposite side of the cage. I was exhausted. It was a beautiful move. I admired it while it was happening.”
There was a lot of mutual respect from both fighters during the bout. Lauzon claimed to “really like Jim — before the fight, after the fight, during the fight.”
The referee paused the action late in the second round when blood forced the tape on Lauzon’s glove to come undone and hang down to the ground. Miller felt obligated to do something he had never done before and converse with Lauzon in the middle of the fight.
Miller told Lauzon, “great fight buddy.” Lauzon wishes he could remember his response but, once again, he was preoccupied.
“I could just feel like warmness spewing all over my face,” Lauzon said. “It was a pretty big cut. I could see, but it was definitely distracting. The whole time I was thinking about it and the elbows kept coming.”
Lauzon earned a $65,000 Fight of the Night bonus for his troubles. He’s now tied for the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history with 12.
Miller re-established himself at the top of the 155-pound division after losing two of three coming into Saturday, but he was focused only on celebrating the bout with Lauzon in the immediate aftermath.
“It was a fun fight to be in,” Miller said. “I know that makes me a sicko.”