Couture Decisions Vera at Age 46
Report by Brady Crytzer
In a grueling three round contest, Randy “The Natural” Couture utilized a strength and wrestling advantage to outmuscle Brandon “The Truth” Vera en route to winning a unanimous decision.
He is a three-time heavyweight world champion, a two-time light heavyweight champion and a UFC Hall of Famer. He has fought three times in 2009 and, at the age of 46, Randy “The Natural” Couture has dropped down to the light-heavyweight limit to make another run at another title.
Standing in the way of yet another milestone was Brandon “The Truth” Vera- a former heavyweight knockout specialist with hopes of a light heavyweight title opportunity.
Vera wasted no time trying to capitalize on the weakened chin of the forty six year old Couture as he launched a hard right at the onset. Showing veteran survival instincts Couture muscled his much younger opponent into the cage and began to dirty box. Following a separation due to lack of action, Vera threw a long range southpaw left but missed his mark. Couture however did not miss as he slammed Vera to the mat. “The Truth” worked his way back up but found himself once again against the cage. With under a minute left it appeared as though Vera had no answer for the tenacious wrestling of the much older Couture. The fighters were separated briefly allowing Vera to miss with an uppercut and Couture to drive him once backwards as the round expired.
Round two began with the unique and completely accidental circumstance of Couture getting poked in the eye and kicked low at the same time. After a recovery period Vera scored with a hard kick to the body of “The Natural.” Sensing danger Couture closed the distance and wrestled Vera into the fence again. Although he was not causing a tremendous amount of damage with the approach, Couture was scoring points for implementing his gameplan. The fighters were separated and Vera came to alive as he blasted Couture with a hard body kick. Vera followed Couture to the mat and began to work from the guard of “The Natural.” Couture managed to survive the kick and slow the action down enough to earn a stand up from the official. On the feet Vera looked to land another big shot but was bullied into the cage yet again. The second round ended with “The Natural” controlling “The Truth.”
The men were tentative to being the third round. Following a Vera lowkick, Couture exploded with a hard series of uppercuts and once again drove “The Truth” into the cage. Unlike the previous rounds Couture stayed busy in the clinch and slammed short, hard punches into the face of Vera. By switching between takedown attempts and hard elbows and punches, Couture succeeded in both keeping Vera guessing and satisfying the official that he was not stalling. After another separation Vera ripped two vicious kicks to the ribs of Couture. In desperation Couture closed the distance but found now himself against the fence.
In a dramatic turn of events Vera took Couture to the mat but could not hold him down. “The Natural” rose to his feet and went toe-to-toe as time expired.
Both men were tired, both were bruised, but only one was the winner.
Judges’ scorecards read 29-28 in favor of Randy “The Natural” Couture.
“Brandon had to dust off his wrestling skills for this one,” Couture said. “The trend at the heavyweight division is pretty stacked, I feel better with a guy Brandon’s size.”
Vera, after three rounds of action, was tired and confused by the judges’ decision.
“I thought I won,” Vera said. “I left it all out there. I don’t know. Thanks judges.”
Hardy Outguns Swick, Earns Shot at St. Pierre
In a high profile welterweight match up Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy defeated Mike “Quick” Swick via unanimous decision after three rounds of intense action.
With a shot at Georges St. Pierre’s world welterweight title on the line, Swick and Hardy understood why their 170 lb. bout was the co-main event of the evening. Fighting in his home country, the boisterous Hardy entered the cage to the adoration of the whole of the M.E.N. Arena. Swick, in his eleventh UFC bout, was unfazed.
Swick, who remained in title contention for nearly four years at middleweight, saw Hardy as an obstacle in the way of his first UFC title shot. Originally slated to face Martin Kampmann in October, Swick had to pull out due to injury. Following Kampmann’s defeat to Paul Daley, Hardy became the most deserving fighter to face Swick for a shot at the world title.
The men met with bad intentions in the center of the cage. Although both fighters threw punches and kicks early, it was Swick who commanded the center of the cage. Attempting to close in, Hardy landed a clean right cross on the chin of Swick that momentarily buckled him. Swick pressed Hardy into the fence for much of the round and action was momentarily halted after Hardy suffered a low blow. Following a restart Swick once again clinched with his opponent and pressed Hardy into the fence. In the final minute of the round Hardy reversed the position but the fighters remained in the stalemate. At the bell the men traded right hands.
The second round saw Hardy break the initial tension with a swift left hook that wobbled Swick in the center of the cage. Once aware that Swick was hurt, Hardy ran forward and pushed his opponent into the cage. Swick quickly recovered from the punch and the clinch fight resumed. Locked up with Hardy, Swick threw several right hands and an uppercut into the head of “The Outlaw.” Referee Kevin Mulhall separated the men and the chess match began. Swick found himself on the mat after throwing a headkick that missed its mark. On his feet Swick found success with counter punches that stifled the attack of his opponent.
Round three began as a firefight as both men landed with haymaker punches. Hardy found the chin of Swick with a now trademark left hook and his opponent fell backwards into the fence. Now badly hurt Swick could do nothing but hold on as “The Outlaw” hoisted him into the air and slammed him to the mat. From the top Hardy cut Swick open with punches and elbows. Following a moment of inactivity the fighters were stood up at the two minute mark. Swick attempted to press the action but Hardy remained sharp and time expired.
Judges’ scored the bout 30-27 twice and 29-28.
“I did what I could England,” Hardy said to his British fans. “I tried to finish, I did. I’m excited, and I hope you are too.”
Hardy and St. Pierre are expected to square off in early 2010.
Bisping is Back, Stops Kang in Round Two
Following a devastating loss in July, Michael “The Count” Bisping returned and scored a second round TKO over international superstar Denis Kang. The official time of the stoppage was 4:24.
Entering the ring to the cheers of 20,000 of his closest friends, Bisping was bursting with energy. While “The Count” was redefining what it meant to be “up” for a fight, Kang was calm, cool, and collected in his corner.
The fighters traded barbs early as Kang launched a right cross and Bisping answered with a headkick. An overanxious Bisping jumped in to engage his opponent and was meant swiftly with a solid right cross. Bisping fell to the canvas and the Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Kang went to work from the top position. Remaining in the half guard of the Bisping, Kang pushed the tempo for much of the round. With just under a minute left in the round, “The Count” was able to place Kang in his guard and nearly secured an armbar. Kang escaped however and reclaimed a dominant position at the bell.
Bisping played the role of headhunter in round two as he through many jabs and kicks at the confident Kang. Feeling sure of his abilites, Kang pumped a stiff jab into the face of Bisping and once again launched a right cross. Bisping closed the distance quickly and took Kang to the mat. From the top Bisping dropped hard punches to the face of his opponent and the M.E.N Arena came to life. Kang managed to roll to his feet but was badly beaten. Now weakened, Kang was taken down with ease by The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner. Kang worked his way back up again but was overwhelmed by Bisping. After a number of unanswered punches and knees the fight was mercifully stopped as Kang recovered on the Octagon floor.
The official time of the stoppage was 4:24.
True Grit: Brown TKO’s Debuting Wilks
In a gutsy performance Matt “The Immortal” Brown TKO’ed The Ultimate Fighter 9 winner James “Lightening” Wilks in the third round with strikes from the top position. The official time of the stoppage was 2:27.
Known for his strong striking, Brown look to land big punches early on his debuting opponent. Wilks, who achieved success on The Ultimate Fighter 9, attempted to take his opponent down and use his world class submission abilities. After a scramble, Wilks excited fans by jumping onto the back of Brown while standing. Wilks struggled to take down the gritty Brown but found success as the round concluded.
Wilks opened up with his hands in the second round but was quickly stifled by Brown’s tenacious attack. After landing a kick, jab combination Brown leapt from the canvas and sent Wilks to the floor with a devastating flying knee. Though he was hurt badly, Wilks still managed to secure a leg and nearly submit Brown. Back on the feet, Wilks was forced to play the striking game with his fresher opponent. Brown landed three hard punches to drive Wilks to the canvas with just under a minute remaining, but Wilks reversed the position as his fellow countrymen fans cheered. Finishing the round above Brown, Wilks was locked in a triangle choke as time expired.
The fighters traded punches through the early part of round one with little effect. The familiar scene played out again as Wilks shot for a takedown and Brown attempted a kimura should lock as a counter. Wilks took the upperhand however as he secured a kimura of his own. After survining the hold, Brown utilized a guillotine choke to secure the mount on his opponent. “The Immortal” ferociously pounded away at a now prone Wilks until the fight was waved off. The official time of the stoppage was 2:27.
Brown has now won three straight inside the Octagon.
Pearson Arrives, TKO’s Riley via Cut
The Ultimate Fighter 9 lightweight winner Ross Pearson displayed composure beyond his years as he used slick boxing and sharp muay thai to open a cut on the forehead of Aaron Riley prompting the fight to be stopped at 4:38.
Pearson, who won four bouts during his stay on The Ultimate Fighter 9, showed tremendous composure as he engaged with his much more experienced opponent. Displaying a willingness to stay in the pocket, Pearson used slick defense to shrug off kicks to the head and body by Riley. With nothing landing cleanly, the veteran Riley appeared frustrated by his green opponent.
The second round saw Pearson continue to use tight striking to confuse and batter Riley. Showing experience beyond his years, Pearson snapped hard leg kicks at Riley and scored with many short, quick hooks. Riley, who has made a name for himself as a gutsy brawler with mountains of heart, had no answer for the debuting Pearson. After locking a tight muay thai clinch around the neck of his opponent, Pearson drove a hard knee into the forehead of Riley. Bleeding profusely from a cut on his forehead following the knee, Riley was deemed unable to continue by the ringside physician giving Pearson his first UFC victory. The stoppage came at 4:38.
KO’s Abound in Preliminary Fights: Winner, Siver, Score Big
Siver Crumbles Kelly in Round Two
Denis Siver scored with a textbook spinning back kick to the midsection to stop Englishman Paul Kelly in round two.
Kelly, who has become a favorite of both American and UK fight fans, never was able to close the distance on his opponent. Enjoying a striking advantage, Siver peppered Kelly with punches throughout the round. With the period coming to a close, Kelly scored a takedown but could not capitalize on the position.
The second round saw Kelly anxious to get the fight to the mat with no success. Timing his opponent perfectly, Siver blasted the ribs of Kelly with a spinning back kick that folded him in half and sent him to the canvas. Following some extracurricular blows the fight was stopped at 2:53.
Gustafsson Impresses in Debut
In a light heavyweight clash Alexander Gustafsson needed only :41 seconds to knockout Jared Hamman in the first round.
While both men came out throwing heavy punches, Gustafsson appeared the more composed of the two. Following a warning to the Swedish fighter for poking the eye of Hamman, Gustafsson slammed a homerun overhand right onto the chin of his opponent ending the fight in a flash. With a perfect 9-0 record, Gustafsson earned his first Octagon victory.
Winner Gets the ‘W’
Lightweight star of The Ultimate Fighter 9 Andre Winner displayed blazing handspeed en route to knocking out Roli Delgado in the first round. Winner, who was an early standout on the ninth season of the hit reality series, earned the affection of his countrymen as he stopped Delgado in his tracks with a left-right combination at 3:22. The fight was waved off immediately.
Osipczak Wins War Against Riddle
In a welterweight bout, Nick Osipczak battled Matt Riddle for three hard rounds before scoring the TKO at 3:53 of the last period.
While both men were veterans of The Ultimate Fighter on different seasons, neither had any reservation about pushing the action. Riddle was able to control the round after taking his opponent to the mat. Round two was highlighted by an overhand right from the striking-oriented Osipczak. Riddle, despite being outgunned, fought tooth and nail for the takedown with little success.
Round three saw Riddle begin to turn the tide as he took his opponent to the mat and took his back. As he fought to take advantage of his dominant position Riddle was quickly overturned and Osipczak found himself on top. With a sense of urgency the Brit fired away with hard shots until referee Mac Goddard halted the contest at 3:53.
Etim Continues to Roll, Submits Gugerty
UK favorite Terry Etim submitted Shannon Gugerty in at 1:24 of the second round with a tight guillotine choke.
Known for his sharp striking and lightening quickness, Terry Etim found success in the first period by landing a laser jab at will against the outgunned Gugerty. Though the round was uneventful, Etim controlled the exchanges with his long reach. With only seconds left in round one Gugerty took the Englishman to the mat.
In the second round Etim became more aggressive and launched a headkick toward his opponent. After partially blocking the blow Gugerty charged at Etim but was caught in a slick arm-in guillotine. Gugerty struggled but succumbed to the hold at 1:24.
Hathaway Too Much for Taylor
John Hathaway defeated Paul Taylor via unanimous decision. Judges’ scorecards read 30-27 twice and 30-26. Although Taylor is known for his stand up, he could not fend off the tenacious wrestling attack of Hathaway and was on his back for most of the affair.