On Saturday, November 14, 2009, the UFC returns to the United Kingdom with UFC 105 – Couture vs. Vera. The event will take place at the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester, England. The venue, which is also commonly referred to as just The M.E.N. is one of the world’s busiest indoor arenas. It also hosted UFC 70 – Nations Collide in April 2007, which was the second time the UFC hosted an event in the United Kingdom, since hosting UFC 38 in London, England in July 2002. UFC 105 will feature a British fighter in nine of the eleven scheduled bouts, which includes four of the five main card bouts. This includes all three British fighters who have won a season of The Ultimate Fighter. Overall, ten British fighters will be competing in their home country on Saturday night. The main card, which will be headlined with a clash between light-heavyweight contenders Randy Couture and Brandon Vera is scheduled to be televised for free on a tape-delay in the United States starting at 8 p.m. EST/PST on Spike.
The main event between Couture and Vera is interesting for many reasons. The first reason being that many people are speculating that the winner of this bout will earn a title shot against the current light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. That happening only if Machida does not have an immediate rematch with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, who Machida just edged out and won a close decision against three weeks ago at UFC 104, which was a decision many fans felt could have gone either way.
The other reason that makes Couture vs. Vera so compelling is that both men have similar training backgrounds and have both successfully competed in the UFC in the heavyweight division before moving down to light-heavyweight. Before they began their fighting careers, both men wrestled at Division I universities, served in the U.S. military, and eventually parlayed their strong Greco-Roman wrestling base toward successful MMA careers. However, they do have some noticeable differences. The most glaring contrast being their ages. While Vera just celebrated his 32nd birthday last month, Couture turned 46 last June. It could be a matter of Vera’s youth versus Couture’s edge in experience.
Now as much as the U.S. Army would like to exact some type of revenge and bragging rights against the U.S. Air Force, after losing to them 35-7 last Saturday in college football, Couture (who served in the Army) will have his hands full with Vera (who served in the Air Force), when it comes to the stand up portion of the bout. This is where Couture’s penchant for dirty boxing will go head-to-head with Vera’s Muay Thai prowess in what will truly be the deciding factor in this bout. Whoever has the more accurate and punishing brand of striking should have their hand raised at the end of the night.
Also on the main card on Saturday night will be a welterweight clash between American Kickboxing Academy standout Mike "Quick" Swick and British MMA star Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy. The winner of this bout will earn the right to challenge current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in early 2010. Swick, who has gone 9-1 in the UFC (4-0 as a welterweight) since competing on TUF 1, was originally slated to face Martin Kampmann at UFC 103 in September in a #1 contender’s match. However, Swick suffered a concussion while preparing for that bout and was replaced by UFC newcomer Paul Daley. The British fighter Daley, went on to upset Kampmann who would have earned the title shot if he had won.
Swick will now step in as an injury replacement for Dong-Hyun Kim (who got injured training in late September) to face Daley’s teammate Hardy, who also fights out of Team Rough House in Nottingham, England. The charismatic Hardy, who is easily recognized by his trademark red mohawk, is a veteran of 29 fights, but finally stormed into the mainstream MMA consciousness in October of 2008 when he made his UFC debut at UFC 89 in Birmingham, England. That night he won a hard fought Split Decision over the equally entertaining Akihiro Gono. Hardy would then return 4 months later to defeat UFC and IFL veteran Rory Markham with spectacular 69-second KO at UFC 95 in London, England.
In Hardy’s most recent bout in June, he defeated his bitter rival Marcus Davis via Split Decision at UFC 99 in Cologne, Germany. The antics and exchange of words between Hardy and Davis leading up to the fight helped Hardy shake Davis from his game plan, while making Hardy even more popular among the fans. That same night was Swick’s most recent outing, where he won impressively via TKO over TUF 6 veteran Ben Saunders in the second round. Hardy has been less talkative in the pre-fight build up for this bout, however, perhaps due to the title shot at stake and having just over 6 weeks to prepare for Swick.
-Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera (Light-Heavyweight Bout)
-Mike Swick vs. Dan Hardy (Welterweight Bout)
-Michael Bisping vs. Denis Kang (Middleweight Bout)
-James Wilks vs. Matt Brown (Welterweight Bout)
-Ross Pearson vs. Aaron Riley (Lightweight Bout)
-Paul Taylor vs. John Hathaway (Welterweight Bout)
-Terry Etim vs. Shannon Gugerty (Lightweight Bout)
-Matt Riddle vs. Nick Osipczak (Welterweight Bout)
-Paul Kelly vs. Dennis Siver (Lightweight Bout)
-Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jared Hamman (Light-Heavyweight Bout)
-Andre Winner vs. Roli Delgado (Lightweight Bout)