UFC 105 takes place this Saturday in England. The big event will be televised for free on Spike TV on Saturday night. UFC Hall of Fame fighter, Randy Couture headlines the free event against Brandon Vera in a UFC light heavyweight bout. This is a must-win fight for both fighters, with the winner moving an inch closer to challenging Lyoto Machida.
The backstory to this fight is probably more interesting than the fight itself. In 2006, Vera was seen as the hot commodity in UFC’s struggling heavyweight division. Vera defeated Frank Mir at UFC 65 and the plan was in motion to pit Vera against Tim Sylvia for the UFC heavyweight title. Many insiders and fans thought that Vera would win and give the division new life. However, Vera was at the end of a contract and UFC would not give him a title shot without a new deal. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement and the fight never happened. Enter Randy Couture.
[adinserter block=”1″]After being knocked out by Chuck Liddell at UFC 57, Couture announced his retirement. Due to the Vera impasse, Dana White was desperate for a challenger for Tim Sylvia and called Randy Couture. Couture accepted, came out of retirement, and defeated Sylvia as a huge underdog to win the UFC heavyweight title and revitalize his career. It is entirely possible that if not for Brandon Vera and his contract impasse with the UFC, Randy Couture may have stayed retired. The bottom line is whether Couture would have came back or not, he wouldn’t have come back in the heavyweight division and defeat the champion in one of the UFC’s all-time greatest moments.
Vera finally returned to the UFC, but has yet to taste the success he had before the layoff. Like Couture, Vera fights as both a heavyweight and lightweight. Since his return to the UFC, Vera has gone a disappointing 3-3. However, longtime UFC fans still have memories of the old Brandon Vera and thus UFC has been able to capitalize on his previous success. Vera has won his last two fights, ironically winning his last fight on the Couture-Nogueira undercard in August. I think it is fair to say that in Vera’s UFC career, this is by far the biggest fight he has ever had. Brandon Vera desperately needs a win here to take the next step in his career. A loss to Couture could put Vera so far back that he may wind up leaving the UFC.
Randy Couture is in a similar situation in that he desperately needs a win. Couture lost his last fight to Nogueira, yet received a ton of praise for not quitting. Personally, I think people watched that fight with rose colored glasses. I think Nogueira dominated the majority of the fight and owned Couture on the ground. Couture had some great moments on his feet, but Nogueira didn’t look like he was in any real danger in the fight. As a matter of a fact, Couture looked in tremendous shape yet seemed slow at times. At 46 years of age, anyone is going to slow down and Couture is definitely no exception to the rule.
Couture has lost his last two fights. Couture lost via TKO to Brock Lesnar and via decision to Nogueira. I will say this about Randy Couture. For one thing, he definitely gave Brock Lesnar a far tougher fight than anyone expected. Two, I think it shows a lot about Randy to take a fight three months after his last fight which was a grueling three-rounder. Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Georges St. Pierre, and most likely Anderson Silva have all taken much longer between fights. For Couture to immediately jump back into training without much of a break is very impressive to say the least.
As for the fight, I think this is a fight set up for Randy to win. Randy should easily win on the ground. Randy has to worry about clinches and kicks if the fighters stay on their feet. One of Vera’s biggest weaknesses is his inability to finish guys. Vera hesitates a lot and unless he pounces on Couture like Brock did in the second round, he is going to be in for a long night. Couture can be knocked out, but he is extremely resilient if given a chance to recuperate. Vera can match Randy’s boxing game and he has a 3-inch reach advantage, so it is really imperative that Couture takes him to the mat. Couture also doesn’t seem quick enough to get into a slugfest these days. Randy’s best bet is grounding and pounding a long, yet boring fight.
[adinserter block=”2″]As of this writing, Randy Couture is a -120 favorite on BetUs.com and -130 on Bodog.com. Brandon Vera is getting even odds on both books. This really surprises me considering the age factor and Couture’s last two fights. I never expected Vera to be an underdog and maybe he won’t be by fight time. I think UFC made this match for Couture to win. A Couture win opens up Couture-Griffin, Couture-Ortiz II, Couture-Silva, Couture-Belfort, Couture-Franklin, and maybe even Couture-Liddell at some point. I am going with Randy Couture for the win via decision.
The entire scheduled UFC 105 fight card is…
Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera
Michael Bisping vs. Denis Kang
Mike Swick vs. Dan Hardy
James Wilks vs. Matt Brown
Ross Pearson vs. Aaron Riley
Terry Etim vs. Shannon Gugerty
Paul Taylor vs. John Hathaway
Nick Osipczak vs. Matthew Riddle
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jared Hamman
Andre Winner vs. Roli Delgado
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