UFC 105 Preview:Couture and Swick Have Most to Gain

As As the UFC heads to Manchester, England for the first time in over two and a half years this Saturday, the organization will attempt to showcase their British fighters in front of their hometown fans. All of the main card fights, except for the main event, feature British fighters (although James Wilks currently resides in California) in matchups with North American opponents. With two fights that may have title implications, the card is one of the strongest the UFC has had outside of the U.S. Time for a preview of the five main card fights.

Ross Pearson vs. Aaron Riley: Pearson is fighting for the first time since winning the lightweight portion of The Ultimate Fighter: Team U.K. vs. Team U.S.A. and he will surely be tested in his first fight since the show ended. Riley avenged a controversial loss to Shane Nelson in his last fight but prior to that he lost three of four fights in the UFC and struggled to stay with the organization (he has fought for an outrageous 10 different organizations since his UFC debut in 2002). Riley will most likely find himself looking for another new home if he loses this fight, something he would obviously prefer to avoid. Pearson looked vulnerable at times in his victory over Andre Winner in the TUF Finale, a decision that really could have gone either way. In this fight, Riley will capitalize on Pearson’s mediocre conditioning to gut out a decision victory.

James Wilks vs. Matt Brown: Unlike Pearson, Wilks looked very impressive in his TUF Finale victory over season favorite DeMarques Johnson. Despite not fairing nearly as well on his season of the reality show, Brown has been very impressive in the UFC, winning three of four fights (his lone loss was a split decison to Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 88). With the exciting styles that both fighters bring to the table, the has fight of the night written all over it. Although Brown’s 12-7 record is not all that impressive, Wilks has yet to fight an opponent of his caliber and experience. Brown wins by TKO.

Michael Bisping vs. Dennis Kang: Bisping was originally slated to face another veteran, Wanderlei Silva, in the main event of this card, but the bought had to be scratched when Silva decided to have facial surgery. Although Kang is probably a less dangerous foe, the Canadian does hold victories over such accomplished fighters as Akihiro Gono, Marvin Eastman and Murilo Rua. The biggest question for Bisping is how he will respond to being knocked out for the first time in his career and losing for only the second time (although he was given a gift split decision over Matt Hamil in 2007). After Bisping’s other loss to Rashad Evans, he proceeded to rattle off three straight impressive wins before losing to Dan Henderson in July. The UFC gave Bisping an easier opponent because they obviously want him to win in front of his home town fans, not surprising since he may be the most popular British fighter in the organization. He won’t disappoint the powers that be. A close decision victory for “The Count.”

Mike Swick vs. Dan Hardy: In a battle that will determine who gets destroyed by welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre next, Swick should have little difficulty cementing his number one contender status. He has won nine of his ten fights in the UFC and has been dominant since moving from middleweight to welterweight last year. Hardy on the other hand, has won two of his three fights in the UFC by split decision and in his last win over Marcus Davis, many people thought the fight should have gone the other way. Swick will attack early and often, winning by TKO.

Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera: After back to back losses in the heavyweight division, Couture will drop to 205 for the first time in over three years. Vera has also fought in both divisions, having dropped down to light heavyweight after consecutive losses to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Verdum in 2007 and 2008. Vera has looked impressive in his last two fights but has yet to be challenged by a top ten light heavyweight. He will get that chance when he takes on the man known as Captain America. Although Couture’s 16-10 career record is not all that impressive on paper, he is notorious for proving doubters wrong and could get right into the title picture at 205 with a win. Fans expecting a repeat of his entertaining fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102 will likely be disappointed, but Couture will use his wrestling and ground and pound to win a unanimous decision over Vera.

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