Boxing

UFC 105 preview headlined by Couture vs. Vera

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UFC 105 event lacks a championship headliner, but the main event between Brandon Vera and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture will certainly produce a thriller in Manchester, England. Let's preview the main card. Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera For the first time since suffering a knockout loss at the hands of Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell in 2006, UFC Hall of Famer Couture will compete in the 205-pound division. Couture has held championship in this weight class on twice. Vera is just as motivated as Couture is to earn a title shot and is eager to prove his critics wrong. This has all the makings of a great fight. It wasn't long ago when Vera claimed he would hold both the heavyweight and light heavyweight championships simultaneously — and to this day his doubters laugh at the thought.
While many believe that Couture is past his prime, his war with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira proved he still has the athletic ability to compete against the best fighters. If at age 46 Couture is still able to hold his own against the upper echelon of the heavyweight division, just imagine what he will be able to accomplish against smaller fighters. Vera is a destructive Muay-Thai striker with some of the most punishing leg kicks in the world. If he is able to keep the fight standing up and steer clear of Couture's wrestling skills, Vera can pick the former champion apart with brutal kicks and swift striking combos. Vera is also especially dangerous in the Thai clinch and could finish Couture with powerful knees to obtain a TKO victory. Such a task is easier said than done. Couture is still one of the strongest athletes in the game today. He'll attempt to close the distance with his boxing, secure the Greco-Roman clinch and keep Vera pressed up against the cage. From there he'll seek to utilize dirty boxing techniques and wear Vera down enough to ground and pound. Mike Swick vs. Dan Hardy The co-main event is welterweight bout that UFC President Dana White said "will determine the next challenger to Georges St-Pierre's title." Swick has had 10 UFC fights and boasts a 90 percent win ratio in the octagon with the loss coming to Yushin Okami at middleweight. Swick's nickname may be "Quick," but in terms of welterweight rankings his British adversary had a much quicker road to title contention. Hardy's 22-6, but his UFC record is an impressive yet minuscule 3-0. Nevertheless, if people are overlooking Hardy as a legitimate contender, they must not have watched his recent fight against Marcus Davis at UFC 99. Davis was considered to have a significant edge over Hardy on the feet but Hardy put on display his superior stand-up game to inflict some serious damage. Not only is Hardy a very technical striker, but he also poses some serious power in his punches — as evidenced by his knockout victory over Rory Markham back at UFC 95. The most notable flaw in Hardy's artillery is that of his takedown defense, or lack thereof. His diverse skills off his back undoubtedly make up for it though, and will give Hardy the jiujitsu edge. Swick is notorious for his explosive boxing that earned him the nickname "Quick" with his reputation for knocking out his opponents within mere seconds. Swick is not a technical striker, but he throws powerful, looping punches at a rapid velocity which have proven to be extremely difficult to counter. In the time it takes some fighters to throw a 1-2 combination, Swick has already thrown 10 punches and is setting up his 11th. Even if Hardy ends up getting the better of the exchanges on the feet, Swick can take the fight to the mat and inflict some serious damage with ground and pound. Hardy has never been knocked out, but there's always a first time for everything, and with Swick's power he can definitely be the man to end that streak. Michael Bisping vs. Denis Kang One of the most difficult things to deal with in this sport is figuring out how to bounce back from a demoralizing loss. Some fighters learn from the defeat and return to the octagon a stronger competitor. Conversely, there are some athletes who never truly recover. It will be interesting to see what category England's premier fighter, Bisping, falls under. Before his battle with Dan Henderson at UFC 100, Bisping was likely a victory away from earning a title shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Bisping's UFC title dreams came to an abrupt halt however after a devastating right hand from Henderson put Bisping's lights out in the second round. Bisping will now have the opportunity to get back on track against a world-class veteran. To casual observers, Kang isn't a special fighter. His UFC record 1-1 and he was submitted in his octagon debut against Alan Belcher.

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Do not let that deceive you, because for a very long time Kang was considered one of the top middleweight fighters in the world. Kang is a world-renowned Brazilian jiujitsu black belt with impressive kickboxing abilities. Kang does hold a definitive edge over Bisping on the ground, but Bisping is no slouch on the ground himself. James Wilks vs. Matt Brown Team UK welterweight winner, James "Lightning" Wilks meets a dangerous competitor in Matt "The Immortal" Brown. Brown appeared on season seven of TUF, and despite submitting to eventual winner Amir Sadollah in the quarterfinals, the Ohio native has shown a great deal of promise in his four UFC performances. Brown is a ruthless striker with grappling abilities. Stylistically, this matchup could be dubbed "the clash of the clones," due to the very similar styles between both fighters. Both have acquired exceedingly dangerous stand-up skills over the years and are also quite dangerous on the ground as well. However, Wilks' ground game is much more imposing considering the fact that he's a lethal Brazilian jiujitsu black belt, and one of the most underrated black belts in MMA for that matter. Wilks will have the advantage on the ground, but expect to see most of this fight taking place standing up, with Brown landing the more powerful shots. Ross Pearson vs. Aaron Riley Usually when one wins The Ultimate Fighter, more often than not they are matched up with a lower tier competitor in their opening post-TUF fight inside the UFC's Octagon. This ensures what some would call an "easy victory" to help legitimize the title of "Ultimate Fighter." However, in the case of Pearson — who defeated fellow Team UK member Andre Winner to claim the lightweight trophy on season nine — UFC matchmaker Joe Silva says "no freebies." The British sensation will meet a seasoned veteran in Riley to kick of the night's televised card, in what should be a very explosive bout from start to finish. Not only is Riley the more experienced fighter, but he's well-rounded in all areas and will possess a slight size advantage over the Englishman. While Riley certainly has all the tools to defeat Pearson, one must never underestimate the power of an English bulldog. Pearson is a remarkably explosive athlete with strong boxing skills, powerful wrestling and slick jiujitsu. Expect a three-round war.

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