Randy Couture has achieved so much in the Octagon beyond age 40 that his accomplishments have almost been taken for granted.
Each time out, the former three-time UFC heavyweight and two-time light heavyweight champion faces questions about whether his next match is his final one. But the ageless wonder continues to defy the odds.
Such was the case at UFC 105 on Nov. 14, 2009 at the Manchester Evening News Arena. Couture, by this point 46, was coming off consecutive losses at heavyweight, to Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Time to quit? Nope. Couture simply looked at the losses as his newest challenge. A mere three months after losing a decision to Nogueira in one of 2009's most exciting battles, Couture dropped down to light heavyweight and took on Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC 105.
While Couture-Vera won't go down as a classic, "The Natural" had his hand raised in the end. Couture managed to impose his will and use his trademark Greco-Roman clinch to control the tempo. In the third, Vera broke through with a series of body kicks and had Couture in trouble in the final minute after a takedown. But Couture held on and won a unanimous decision in front of a sellout crowd of 16,693. Couture took 29-28 scores on all three judges' cards.
The victory sparked Couture's current three-fight wins streak, which includes stoppages of Mark Coleman and James Toney.
Turmoil behind the scenes was as prominent in Manchester as the action in the cage, as an unprecedented wave of injuries and illnesses took its toll on UFC headliners. Over the course of the fight week, Lesnar's then-undiagnosed diverticulitis worsened; Shane Carwin suffered an ankle injury; and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira had to withdraw as UFC 108 headliner after suffering a staph infection.
Co-headliner Dan Hardy scored the biggest victory of his career with a unanimous decision win over Mike Swick. The 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 win earned Hardy a shot at Georges St. Pierre's welterweight title.
Denis Kang entered the UFC much hyped on blogs and message boards after a string of victories in Asia. But like many such Internet stars, Kang fizzled once he hit the UFC. His second-round TKO defeat to Michael Bisping at UFC 105 sent him out of the UFC with a 1-2 record.
Quoteworthy: âIâm pissed, Iâm really pissed. In this sport, there is a saying, âIf you let it go to the judges, anything can happen.â I should have finished him." – Vera, on not capitalizing on his third-round advantage. RESULTS
Andre Winner def. Roli Delgado, KO, 3:221 R1
Alexander Gustafsson def. Jared Hamman, KO, 0:41 R1
Dennis Siver def. Paul Kelly, TKO, 2:53 R1
Nick Osipczak def. Matt Riddle, TKO, 3:53 R3
Terry Etim def. Shannon Gugerty, submission (gulliotine choke), 1:42 R2; John Hataway def. Paul Taylor, unanimous decision
Ross Pearson def. Aaron Riley, TKO, 4:38 R2
Matt Brown def. James Wilks, TKO, 2:27 R2
Michael Bisping def. Denis Kang, TKO, 4:24 R2
Dan Hardy def. Mike Swick, unanimous decision
Randy Couture def. Brandon Vera, unanimous decision.