Randy Couture vs Brandon Vera
Early in the opening round Vera highlights his superiority in the stand-up department, landing a kick followed by strikes that appear to stun Couture. It’s not long however before ‘The Natural’ begins to implement his expected game-plan, utilizing the clinch to press Vera against the cage. Two other elements of Couture’s familiar game-plan – takedowns and dirty boxing are lacking at this stage though and this leads to a largely uneventful round.
In the second round Couture takes an unintentional eye poke from Vera, but after a brief pause the action resumes. Couture resumes his clinch game but after again failing to do anything significant with the position the referee resets the action. A body kick from Vera seems to hurt Couture but he rides it out only to take a knee to the stomach which forces him to turn his back as he winces in pain and staggers to the floor.
For a moment the fight appears in danger of being stopped but Vera appears happy to take a breather from top position rather than press home the advantage and Couture cling on until the referee stands them back up. From there Couture wants no part of Vera’s strikes and finds away to end the round back in the clinch.
In the third round Couture finally manages to implement his dirty boxing from the clinch, and that helps to score him some much needed points, but it’s not long before the referee is looking to separate them again. Vera’s kicks are still proving to be effective but Couture does land some strikes of his own before Vera looks to clinch up against the cage. Just as it looks like the fighters will again be broken up by the referee Vera successfully manages to take down Couture. It appears to be a key moment in the fight even although Couture manages to avoid any damage and sweeps to his feet. Both fighters look tired but try to end the round with a flurry of strikes as the bell sounds.
It’s a close fight but while Couture has controlled much of the action, Vera has landed the most telling blows throughout, had his opponent in trouble and scored a significant takedown.
The judges see it differently however and award Randy Couture a controversial unanimous decision victory.
Dan Hardy vs Mike Swick
As always Dan Hardy looks confident going into this bout and it appears he has good reason as he catches Swick with a right hook early. The only other telling blow of the round however is a knee from Swick which catches Hardy in the groin, forcing a brief stoppage. Much of the rest of the frame is spent in the clinch against the fence and little damage is sustained by either fighter.
As we go into the second round Hardy appears to have the more solid boxing skills and connects with a clean left hook that visibly wobbles Swick. He regains his composure, but whether it’s due to the punches he has taken or his opponent’s style Swick doesn’t appear to be finding his rhythm and is coming off second best so far. For the reminader of the round Hardy continues to get the better of the stand-up and clinch game but is unable to land a killer blow.
In the final round Swick struggles to up his tempo and must be disheartened when his best shots are shrugged off by Hardy. For the third time in the fight Hardy lands a hook cleanly to Swick’s face, and he presses forward and scores a takedown. It’s not long before the referee stands them back up and the round ends with Swick looking tired and devoid of ideas whilst Hardy appears confident and in control. It’s now up to the judges but there seems little doubt who is the winner and the judges agree.
Dan Hardy defeats Mike Swick by unanimous decision and will now fight GSP for the welterweight title.
Michael Bisping vs Denis Kang
Michael Bisping has a potentially disastrous start to this match as he gets caught with a right hook in an early exchange on the feet that sends him to the mat in a daze. He manages to recover however and impresses with some excellent hip escapes that allows him to thwart Kang’s persistant attempts to mount him. Despite spending much of the round on his back Bisping goes back to his corner at the end of the round relatively unscathed.
In the second round the tide of the match quickly turns when Bisping implements a different strategy, taking his opponent down and delivering some relentless ground and pound from the top that quickly opens up a cut on Kangs face. Getting back to his feet Kang looks to be struggling and Bisping takes advantage, bringing him back down to the canvas to dish out more punishment. Again Kang escapes back to his feet but Bisping won’t be denied and a third takedown quickly follows. More strikes rain down and the referee steps into stop the fight, giving Bisping a well deserved win.
Michael Bisping defeats Denis Kang by TKO in Rd2
Matt Brown vs James Wilks
There’s very little to seperate the two fighters in the first round with Wilks clearly intent on taking this fight to the ground while Matt Brown is able to foil his game-plan by showing excellent takedown defense. The referee resets the action at times giving Brown a chance to work his striking game, but despite looking a threat it is not long before Wilks again finds away to close the distance.
In round two Brown produces a flying knee that catches Wilks cleanly as he’s moving forward, sending him reeling backwards onto the mat. This is the pivotal moment in the fight. Though Wilks somehow regains his senses enough to avoid the worst of Brown’s strikes and even attempts a leg lock, which Brown escapes, it’s clear the blow has taken a lot out of him.
On their feet again Wilks continues to try to get Brown to the floor where he does appears to have an advantage, but, in his weakened state he looks even less likely to succeed than before. Brown is now finding a home for his strikes but Wilks shows heart to remain the fight as the round closes.
Into round three and Wilks is operating at half speed, though to his credit he is clearly trying to will his body to keep fighting. His persistence almost pays off as he gets a standing kimura and finally gets the fight to the ground by pulling guard. From there Matt Brown keeps cool under pressure and somehow manages to roll out of the submission and gets to his feet.
Again Brown gets the better of the strikes on the feet and takes advantage of a ponderous takedown attempt from Wilks to get on top and mount his opponent. With little resistance now being shown by his opponent he is free to unleash a barrage of strikes until the referee jumps in to stop the fight.
Matt Brown defeats James Wilks by TKO in rd3.
Ross Pearson vs Aaron Riley
It’s clear early on that nerves are not a factor for Pearson in his first official UFC fight. He looks comfortable and shows some good compact striking while Riley, the more experienced competitor appears hesitant. It only gets worse for Riley when Pearson continues to showcase his developing striking skills with good knees from the muay thai clinch and strikes to the body and head.
After a dominating first round it was more of the same in the second until Pearson manages to unleash a short range flying knee to Riley’s face that opens up a cut. With blood flowing from the wound the referee steps in and calls in the doctor who says the fight can’t continue. Not an ideal way to end the bout but a very impressive showing from Ross Pearson nonetheless.
Ross Pearson defeats Aaron Riley by TKO (doctor stoppage due to a cut)
John Hathaway defeats Paul Taylor by unanimous decision
Terry Etim defeats Shannon Gugerty by submission (guillotine) in Rd2
Nick Osipczak defeats Matthew Riddle by TKO in Rd3
Jared Hamman defeats Alexander Gustafsson by KO in Rd1
Andre Winner defeats Roli Delgado by KO in Rd1