The UFC resolved its contract dispute with heavyweight champion Randy Couture and set up an intriguing heavyweight tournament of sorts to unify the belts and crown one champion.
In the year Couture spent on the sidelines, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira won the interim heavyweight title. So the UFC ordered Nogueira to defend that belt against Frank Mir at UFC 92 and signed Brock Lesnar to face Couture for the regular title at UFC 91 on Nov. 15, 2008, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
UFC president Dana White said that the winners of UFC 91 and UFC 92 would meet for the undisputed title sometime in 2009.
Lesnar had a huge size advantage on Couture, but Couture was more experienced, adding intrigue to the bout.
They fought a closely contested opening round, but Lesnar's punching power, not his wrestling prowess, was the difference in the outcome. Lesnar blasted Couture with a right hand in the second round, decking the champion.
The massive Lesnar pounced and finished him with strikes on the ground to win the belt in only his fourth mixed martial arts bout and third UFC appearance.
Mir scored a TKO win over Nogueira at UFC 92 to claim the interim title, which set up the UFC 100 main event, which features Lesnar and Mir for the unified crown.
The fight was a big hit both at the box office and on pay-per-view. It attracted a $4.8 million gate, the fourth-biggest in UFC history, and sold slightly more than 1 million buys on pay-per-view.
In what was expected to be a hotly contested lightweight battle, Kenny Florian dominated Joe Stevenson to earn a shot at B.J. Penn's lightweight title. Florian won by first-round submission.
Dustin Hazelett earned his second consecutive impressive victory, submitting Tamdan McCrory to win submission of the night honors.
Quoteworthy: "Brock is a great indicator of where the heavyweight division is going. We're seeing guys who aren't just big guys, they're also very, very good athletes." – Couture, on the future of the heavyweight division. RESULTS
Matt Brown def. Ryan Thomas, submission (armbar), 0:57 R2
Mark Bocek def. Alvin Robinson, submission (rear naked choke), 3:16 R3
Jeremy Stephens def. Rafael dos Anjos, KO, 0:39 R3
Aaron Riley def. Jorge Gurgel, unanimous decision
Demian Maia def. Nate Quarry, submission (Rear naked choke), 2:13 R1
Gabriel Gonzaga def. Josh Hendricks, TKO, 1:01 R1
Dustin Hazelett def. Tamdan McCrory, submission (armbar), 3:59 R1
Kenny Florian def. Joe Stevenson, submission (rear naked choke), 4:03 R1
UFC heavyweight championship: Brock Lesnar def. Randy Couture, TKO, 3:07 R2 (Lesnar wins title)
- Randy Couture
- Brock Lesnar
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira