Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 | 7:29 p.m.
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Randy Couture won a tightly contested light-heavyweight match against Brandon Vera at UFC on Saturday in Manchester, England, taking all three cards, 29-28. The UFC veteran avoided his first three-fight losing streak thanks to continually getting Vera into clinches against the cage.
Light Heavyweight bout: Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera
Decision: Couture wins the match with a 29-28 advantage on each card.
"I controlled a lot of the tempo of the fight," Couture said. "Probably not the most exciting fight to watch. He stung me a good one with that body kick, and he did it again in the third round. It didn't get me quite as bad, but it was still bad."
Final round: Once again, Couture gets Vera against the cage, battling him into the clinch early. Vera lands another kick to the midsection (followed by two more solid kicks) with two minutes left, but Couture gets in close and clinches yet again. Vera ends up getting a full mount in the final seconds before Couture battles out and the two fighters trade blows just before the buzzer.
Second round: Couture suffers a low kick and an accidental poke in the eye in the opening seconds, but gets Vera against the cage less than a minute later. Vera turns the veteran fighter around 30 seconds later, but Couture returns the favor. After being separated by the ref, Vera lands a few kicks to Couture's midsection, knocking him to the ground, and follows up with a few blows to the head. Couture recovers after the fighters are separated yet again, landing a few blows while clinched with Vera against the cage before the end of the round.
First round: Vera comes out strong with a series of blows, landing a solid kick. Couture fights the bout to the cage, attempting to take down Vera, and gets him back to the cage after being separated by the referee two minutes in. Couture finally gets Vera down to the ground a few seconds later, but Vera fights back to his feet. Vera can't escape the clinch once again in the final seconds, but the buzzer goes off before Couture can do any damage.
Pre-fight: Couture is back at light heavyweight for the first time since 2006, coming off a unanimous-decision loss in the heavyweight division to Antonio Noguiera at UFC 102. At the same event, Vera won a unanimous decision over Krzysztof Sosynski, but the 32-year-old has lost his last two heavyweight fights.
Welterweight bout: Mike Swick vs. Dan Hardy
Decision: Hardy wins unanimously, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
"That was a tough fight," Hardy said. "He always puts on a great show. I did what I could, England. I did what I could. I'm sorry I didn't get the finish, but we got there in the end."
"I'm excited people. I know you are, too!" Hardy added, after shaking hands with welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, who Hardy will face next.
Final round: Lots of punches flying early, the biggest being another huge left from Hardy that sent Swick reeling. Swick tried a guillotine submission, but Hardy took him to the canvas, throwing elbows and cutting Swick's head. The fighters were separated and allowed back up to their feet, but Swick couldn't seriously get back into the bout.
Second round: Hardy catches Swick with a left early in the round, putting him on his heels. More grappling along the wall featuring a number of failed takedown attempts followed until about two minutes left. Swick then missed with a big high kick, falling to the mat but recovering before Hardy could take advantage. He landed a left-hook counter after a missed right by Hardy with a minute left and a few punches in the final 30 seconds of the round.
First round: Swick tries takedown after takedown, but Hardy stays on his feet (though he did take a knee to the groin two minutes in, requiring a break in the action). Lots of grappling and holding against the wall for both fighters with very little action this round until the final seconds when both exchanged a series of punches.
Pre-fight: A win for Swick (9-1 UFC, 14-2 MMA) could earn him a welterweight title shot. Hardy (3-0, 22-6), out of Nottingham, England, could get his own chance at the division championship with a win, as well.
Light Heavyweight bout: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jared Hamman
First round: Hamman lands blow after blow early, aggressively going after Gustafsson, but the Swede connects with a right after the fighters were separated for an accidental poke to the eye and knocks out Hamman for the victory in his UFC debut.
"It feels really good," Gustafsson said. "It was a good punch. I just want to appreciate everybody who helped me to be here."
Middleweight bout: Michael Bisping vs. Dennis Kang
Second round: Kang's repeated attempts to pass in the first round appear to have tired him out, though he did land a fairly solid right again a minute in. Bisping takes Kang down just shy of two minutes in, landing a series a blows from the top position and cutting Kang's face. Bisping took Kang down again after a short respite, continuing to tee off on his opponents face. With a minute left, Kang goes down for a third time and Bisping just wails on him against the wall before the ref calls the fight.
"I'm absolutely over the moon," Bisping said. "You have no idea how I felt after the last fight. Thank you to Dennis for being a great opponent, who took it to me in the first round. I apologize to all my fans for my last fight. I'm going back to being the old Michael Bisping."
First round: Kang drops Bisping with a right hand early in the round, but Bisping kept fighting off Kang's attempted passes and defended well until the buzzer. Kang landed a few blows from the top position, but couldn't do enough damage to Bisping to take a real advantage.
Pre-fight: Fighting is hometown, Bisping also has advantages in age (two years younger), height (three inches) and UFC record (7-2 compared to Kang's 1-1). Both are coming off losses, with Bisping being knocked out by Dan Henderson in the second round at UFC 100, and Kang losing a unanimous decision to Xavier Foupa-Pokam at UFC 97.
Lightweight bout: Andre Winner vs. Rolando Delgado
First round: Winner drops Delgado with a right less than a minute into the bout, but Delgado blocks a flurry of shots and gets back to his feet. The fighters swap punches midway through the round, and Winner ends it with less than two minutes remaining, knocking out Delgado with another huge right, following up with a few extra punches before the ref could intercede.
"The right hand is one of the things I like to use a lot," Winner said. "It feels awesome."
Pre-fight: Delgado has four-inch height and reach advantages, but Winner is the favorite and owns the better overall MMA record (10-3-1 compared to Delgado's 8-4-1).
Welterweight bout: James Wilks vs. Matt Brown
Final round: Wilks throws some slow kicks to keep Brown at bay early on and eventually gets Brown on the ground into an attempted kimura. Brown fights out with three minutes left, reversing position on Wilks and landing punch after punch to his head and body before the referee calls the fight with 2:27 left. It's Brown's third straight victory.
"Coming all the way out here affected my cardio a little bit," Brown said, "but this is what champions are made of. I still got a lot to work on."
Second round: Brown lands a flying knee early in the round after Wilks follows a missed kick with an attempted takedown, and Brown follows with a series of blows to Wilks on the mat. Wilks turns the tables for a second, nearly getting Brown in a submission hold, but Brown gets out and both fighters get back to their feet. Brown knocks Wilks to the mat again with a big combo of punches with 1:30 left and lands hammerfist after hammerfist to Wilks' head. Somehow, Wilks rolls over on top of Brown, but he appeared too worn down to take advantage of his advantage before the buzzer.
First round: Wilks tries to take Brown down a minute into the match, but Brown keeps on his feet. Brown lands some combinations about a minute later before Wilks tries again for a takedown and again fails. Wilks started landing some blows shortly thereafter, but Brown did land a strike to Wilks' left eye that caused it to close up. Wilks finally got his takedown — out of an attempted submission by Brown — with 30 seconds left, but Brown battled back to his feet before the end of the round.
Pre-fight: Like Ross Pearson, Wilks is fighting in his first official UFC bout after winning his TUF: Team US vs. Team UK finale. Brown's the favorite, but not by much according to the Vegas odds.
Lightweight bout: Ross Pearson vs. Aaron Riley
Second round:Pearson lands a trio of punches just more than a minute in, and a few more midway through the round. A solid mix of kicks and punches keep Pearson in control and Riley on his heels, and with less than a minute remaining Pearson opens up a nasty cut on Riley's face with a flying knee that forces the ringside doctor to call for the fight to be stopped.
"I've just done nothing but think about Aaron and train for Aaron, and everything came together tonight and came out perfect," Pearson said after the fight. "This is my life now. This is what I do. I love training. I love fighting. I'm just going to do this 100 percent of the time."
First round: Pearson lands a solid kick to Riley's head at 3:35 in the first round and pins him against the wall 30 seconds later, landing uppercuts and knees to Riley's torso for about a minute. With just more than a minute left until the buzzer, Pearson lands a flurry of blows in the middle of the ring.
Pre-fight: Pearson, out of Sunderland, England, gets the home-country advantage in his first official UFC fight, but Riley, out of Albuquerque, N.M., has fought around the world and shouldn't be thrown off by the fight's location.