For the second consecutive show, a UFC main event has ended with a controversial unanimous decision as Randy Couture edged Brandon Vera to earn his first light heavyweight victory since February of 2006.
In the mind of all three judges sitting Octagon-side, Couture bested the Filipino 29-28 on the cards, with each likely giving Vera the middle stanza.
Although Vera was the more explosive striker, Couture was able to control the Muay Thai specialist by pressing him against the cage for most of their 15-minute scrap. Oddly, the former champ was never able to get Vera on his back, although it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.
The few moments that Vera was able to create space and separate, he connected on quite a few powerful kicks, almost ending the fight with powerful shots to Couture’s sternum.
“It hurt,” Couture said specifically of the 2ndRound kick that sent him to the canvas. “He stung me a good one with that body kick, and he did it again in the third round. It didn’t get me quite as bad, but it was still bad.”
Vera immediately pounced on the dazed Hall of Famer as he fell to the fetal position, however wasn’t able to inflict any further damage while within Couture’s full guard.
“I had to kind of shift gears,” said Couture. “(Vera) definitely got my attention in the 2ndRound. I was protecting my head and he kicked me square in the ribs … I think he moved my heart with that shot.”
The final round was very similar to its predecessors, however Vera was once again presented with an opportunity to finish with a few minutes on the clock. He unleashed another couple of kicks to Couture’s midsection and was able to drag Couture to the mat.
Sadly, Vera wasn’t able to do much and Couture got the fight back up rather quickly as the final horn sounded. The 46-year-old credits that to his move back down to the lighter weight class.
“I feel much better dealing with guys Brandon’s size, my size,” he said. “I don’t have to worry so much about some of those situations I get in, like giving a guy the mount or giving a guy my back.”
As for Vera, he was still in disbelief as to how he left the MEN Arena in Manchester, England without his hand being raised.
“I’m pissed, I’m really pissed, but the sport of MMA, she, MMA, is a b—h and if you let it go to the judges, you let it out of your hands, you know?” said Vera. “So, I’m going to take the blame for this loss. I’m going to man up.
“I thought I won. I left it all out there.”
A statement that Couture didn’t necessarily disagree with, perhaps unintentionally rubbing salt in Vera’s wounds.
“I wouldn’t have been terribly disappointed had the decision gone the other way,” said Couture. “I was very impressed with Brandon.”
If you recall, UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida successfully defended his title by taking a unanimous decision over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104 last month. Unlike after that verdict was rendered, only some boos were heard from the boisterous Brits to express their displeasure in the decision.
But then again, it’s Randy “The Natural” Couture. How can you really ever boo him?