Former Strikeforce fighter Derek Brunson meets Chris Leben on two weeks' notice at UFC 155

Forza LLC via Getty Images
All's well that end's for Derek Brunson.

Months after he was pulled off "The Ultimate Fighter" season 16 right before filming began due to a contractual issue with Showtime, the now former Strikeforce middleweight has agreed to step up on short notice to fight Chris Leben on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas. A slot opened up for Brunson after Karlos Vemola, Leben's original opponent, withdrew from the fight due to an injury.

MMAJunkie.com first reported the news Tuesday night.

Brunson (9-2) will look to get back on the winning track after going 0-2 in 2012, thus far. He lost to Kendall Grove via controversial split decision in June and was then knocked out in just 41 seconds by Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in August.

Then, on a recent episode of The MMA Hour, Brunson said he felt like his luck was getting worse this year after he was pulled off TUF.

"It's a nightmare," Brunson said "Throughout the day I'm like, man, that was the worst-case scenario that actually happened.

"This has not been my year," he said. "What can happen? Nothing, nothing good at this point can happen. I'm thinking all the things that could go possibly wrong are going on at this point."

But just hours before New Year's Day, Brunson can turn his nightmare into a dream. Amazingly, he will be the first Strikeforce fighter to make his UFC debut since it was reported that Strikeforce will fold following its Jan. 12 event.

As for Leben (22-8), he'll look to bounce back from an inactive 2012 due to his year-long suspension for a positive drug test following his UFC 138 loss to Mark Munoz in Nov. 2011.

The Leben vs. Brunson tilt is expected to kick off the pay-per-view, which will be headlined by Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title, from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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