UFC 155: December 29, 2012 Las Vegas, Nevada UFC Middleweight Contender Chris Leben (-150) Profile: Making a name for himself initially as the wild man on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, Chris Leben (22-8) has made a name for himself in the UFC over the last seven years as a fan-friendly fighter whose exciting fights have made him a household name. Often brandishing bright red hair dye on fight night, Leben is consistently willing to brawl for the fans. The 32-year-old MMA veteran has won four Knockout of the Night awards, earned two Fight of the Night awards, holds the all-time UFC record for middleweight fights at 19 and participated in the first five-round, non-title main event in UFC history. Personal demons outside the cage have hindered him as of late, with Leben getting banned from the sport for a year after testing for illegal substances. A year removed, refreshed and seemingly with his habit kicked, Leben looks to turn over a new leaf. UFC Middleweight Contender Derek Brunson (+120) Profile: Derek Brunson (9-2) is a former Division II All-American wrestler from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke who had a fantastic start to his career, going 9-0 over his first two years in the sport on the independent circuit and Strikeforce. He suffered his first loss at the hands of former UFC vet and TUF winner Kendall Grove at ShoFight 20 via a controversial split decision. The 28-year-old lost a highly-anticipated matchup with Jacare Souza via first-round TKO on August 18 but will get an excellent opportunity to bounce back when he makes his UFC debut at UFC 155. Brunson is still young and has a bright future ahead of him. He splits his time training with Renzo Gracie’s team and Jackson’s MMA out of Albuquerque, which puts him in constant five-star company. Opening UFC 155 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Leben a small -150 favorite (bet $150 to win $100) while Brunson opened as a +120 underdog (bet $100 to win $120) according to the MMA odds. This is an intriguing matchup between a wily veteran in Leben and an up-and-coming fighter who has a lot to prove when he steps up in competition here in Brunson. Leben has just about seen it all, facing a variety of opponents, including UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva among 19 inside the Octagon overall. He has a 12-7 mark in those bouts, which is a dozen more wins against UFC opponents than Brunson has right now. Brunson has lost both of his fights against top-level opponents in Grove and Souza, so it is very hard to judge his resume at this point without a quality win to his name. While Brunson certainly has the talent to pull off an upset victory, his serious lack of experience makes him an underdog in this spot, especially against a tough UFC vet like Leben.