Chris LebenMiddleweight Derek Brunson recently made headlines when his spot on TUF 17 was taken away after Showtime intervened, citing legalities with the up-and-comer’s Strikeforce contract. Though Brunson was understandably upset at the time, it appears the 28-year old may have lucked out in the end, as he’s been signed to scrap inside the Octagon before the upcoming season of the Ultimate Fighter even airs.

According to a report from USA Today, Brunson will replace the injured Karlos Vemola in a clash with Chris Leben at UFC 155. Though the UFC has yet to confirm the December 29 tilt, other outlets have also confirmed the change in lineup.

No specifics were offered on Vemola’s condition.

Brunson holds an overall record of 9-2 with both losses coming in his last two tussles. He is certainly no stranger to taking fights on short notice, agreeing to action against Kendall Grove with only a few days to prepare and ultimately lost a decision most viewers felt he deserved the nod in.

Though Leben would appear to be an immediate favorite based on reputation and readiness, “The Crippler” hasn’t seen action in more than a year after being suspended in November 2011 for drug use. Regardless, the 22-8 slugger will certainly be a welcome sight come showtime, bringing with him the brand of brawling leading to past victories over the likes of Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jorge Santiago, and Wanderlei Silva.