Randy Couture (-130) vs. Brandon Vera (+100)
Records: Couture is 16-10 overall, including 5-5 in his last ten fights, while Vera is 11-3 overall, including 3-3 in his last six fights.
Fighting Styles: Couture looks to leverage world-class wrestling and dirty boxing, while Vera depends upon his Muay Thai and submission wrestling to control fights.
Accomplishments / Notable: Couture is a former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling alternate, three-time former UFC heavyweight champion and a two-time light heavyweight champion, and a UFC Hall-of-Famer. He’s the UFC’s (and MMA’s) oldest champion ever and among the most popular fighters in MMA history. Vera’s a former grappling and WEC light heavyweight champion.
Preview: Has father time finally caught up to the ageless wonder, 46-year old Randy Couture? Although most men in their mid-40s struggle to hit the office five days a week, Couture is still competitive in one of the most demanding sports in the world and headlines UFC 105 taking on Brandon Vera. Couture recently made the right decision to drop back down to light heavyweight after losing his last two fights at heavyweight to true big men Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and is now looking to get back in the light heavyweight title mix with a win over the suddenly on-track again Brandon Vera. Vera is riding a two-fight win streak, although the quality of his wins struggle in comparison to Couture’s. Reports are that Vera views this fight as his second chance at superstardom in the UFC, and is thus preparing accordingly cardio-wise, and, will obviously need it in abundance as he battles the ultra-conditioned Couture. Couture will look to keep the fight at close-bay, where he can nullify Vera’s reach and Muay Thai skills while looking for the takedown. Couture in dominant position could be huge trouble for Vera. Conversely, Vera will look to work his always-improving Muay Thai and likely attempt to make the fight a kickboxing matchup.
Mike Swick (-215) vs. Dan Hardy (+175)
Records: Swick is 14-2 overall, including 4-1 in his last five fights, while Hardy is 22-6, including 6-1 in his last seven fights.
Fighting Styles: Both fighters are fairly well-rounded – Swick’s primarily a striker with very fast hands (and combinations) with excellent chokes, while Hardy is a Muay Thai specialist as well as being a Tae kwon do black belt and BJJ purple belt.
Accomplishments / Notable: A veteran of the Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter, Swick’s lightning-fast KO’s have earned him the nickname “Quick”. Hardy has won 11 of his last 12 and is among Britain’s most popular fighters.
Preview: A reward awaits the winner of this fight – it determines the #1 contender in the welterweight division and who next fights Georges St. Pierre for the crown. Don’t blink – it’s likely a stand-and-bang fight, and has “Fight of the Night” potential. Although both fighters have serviceable wrestling and jiu-jitsu, they’re strikers first and foremost, and will probably look to trade standing. Swick has the edge in hand speed, although Hardy will enjoy the boost of home field advantage. Both have KO power.
Denis Kang (-130) vs. Michael Bisping (+100)
Records: Kang is 32-11-1 overall, including 4-4 in his last eight fights, while Bisping is 17-2 overall, including 3-2 in his last five fights.
Fighting Styles: Kang is a BJJ black belt and has nice hands, while Bisping is well-rounded, yet still primarily a kick boxer.
Accomplishments / Notable: As mentioned above, Kang has a black belt in BJJ, is a former Spirit MC champion, and has over 45 professional MMA fights under his belt. Bisping is a former light heavyweight winner of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter and has only tasted defeat twice to former champions Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson.
Preview: Kang’s been around the block a few times, and has some defeats on his record to prove it. Some of the losses are understandable, and some are just head-scratchers. He’s dropped almost all of his fights to elite opponents (such as Gegard Mousasi, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jason Miller, and Alan Belcher), but also has some early losses to questionable talent. He does, however, have a win over Murilo Rua. He did have a nice run in the Pride and Spirit organizations about 5 years ago, but is faced with a solid opponent in Bisping. The aforementioned Bisping is looking to quickly save face against Kang after getting crushed by Dan Henderson in his last fight. The emotional Bisping will look to avoid the ground against Kang and work his kickboxing / reach advantage.
Matt Brown (-170) vs. James Wilks (+140)
Records: Brown is 10-7 overall, including 3-2 in his last five fights, while Wilks is 6-2 overall, including 4-1 in his last five fights.
Fighting Styles: Brown is a Judo brown belt, has heavy hands, and surprising submissions (chokes, armbars), while Wilks is primarily a submission specialist.
Accomplishments / Notable: A former boxer and bodybuilder, Brown is also a former addict who overcame a heroin overdose and was given his nickname “The Immortal” by friends as a result. Wilks is the season 9 winner of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Preview: Even as an underdog, Wilks submissions may prove problematic for Matt Brown. Wilks has won four in a row, a well as his fights during The Ultimate Fighter competition, and shocked the US’s DeMarques Johnson in winning TUF 9 by Rear Naked Choke. Brown has won three of his four in the UFC with his only loss via split decision to Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 88. Should the fight progress to the ground, Wilks may leverage his experience and find a choke. Should the fight stay standing, Brown should have a solid advantage. Brown’s a -170 favorite, but this fight seems much closer on paper.