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UFC 49: Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort

By Cliff Montgomery,
Before a full house of 12,000 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Randy "The Natural" Couture once again reclaimed the light heavyweight championship at UFC 49, soundly defeating Vitor Belfort .

Main Event: Randy "the Natural" Couture vs. Vitor Belfort (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship)

In the first round, it was clear that Belfort's plan was to move and counterpunch, but from the first moments Couture took control. 'The Natural' began his onslaught by pinning Belfort hard against the fence until the ref was compelled to break up the whole thing for lack of action. An unintentional headbutt from Couture tore a gash close to Belfort's right eye not long after the fight had resumed. Belfort appeared fine until Couture took him to the canvas; his cut then began to spew blood.

Couture employed his commanding wrestling skills to remain in full control during the second round. He also struck Victor with elbows from every angle. The ref called a time-out to inspect the deep wound around Belfort's eye. The fight then continued on the ground, with Couture holding out and retaining control.

In the third and final round, Couture immediately scored another fine knockdown of his opponent. The match eventually became a ground and pound frenzy, with Couture all the while concentrating on Belfort's massive cut. By the round's end, poor Belfort was awash in his own blood. This was enough for "Big" John McCarthy; the ref waved the fight over before the fourth round could begin, and declared Couture UFC Middleweight Champion once again.

Many wonder aloud how Couture does it--he's in his early 40's, but fights like the best of men half his age and remains one of the most exciting UFC fighters to boot.

Chuck Liddell vs. Vernon White

In short talk, this one was Liddell's all the way. Both fighters came out hard, working to establish their grounds as strikers; but from the get-go Liddell proved to be a little too much for White, sending him to the canvas on three separate occasions.

In the final minute of the first round, Liddell produced a crashing straight right that slammed White down for the count.

Dave Terrell vs. Matt Lindland

Dave Terrell scored what many called "the biggest upset of the night" when he took down one of the world's best 185-pound fighters, Matt Lindland. It was a swift fight: a crushing left hook to Lindland's face about 15 seconds into the fight dropped the UFC favorite. Terrell pounced on Lindland for the finish, launching pulverizing blows to the jaw and head before the ref could leap in and call it off at :25 into Round 1.

Not bad for Terrell's UFC debut.

Joe Riggs vs. Joe Doerksen

If there is a moral to this match, it's a simple one: don't make a habit of kicking an opponent low--it will come back to haunt you. After suffering two kicks to the groin, Riggs had just about enough, and quickly took it out on his hapless opponent. Riggs employed due vengeance, answering Doerksen with a flurry of brutal punches and elbow strikes which forced Doerksen to tap out at 3:39 into the second round.

Justin Eilers vs. Mike Kyle

In case you didn't quite get the message from the Riggs vs. Doerksen match, UFC 49 provided you with another chance to learn why you shouldn't kick someone else in the Family Jewels. Mike Kyle was penalized early in the match for kneeing Justin Eilers in the groin. After a much-needed two-minute rest, Eilers got his back with a hard, powerful left hook that sent Kyle packing. Riggs wins in impressive fashion, at 1:14 in Round 1.

Ronald Jhun vs. Chris Lytle

This one was dominated from the start by Lytle. He set the pace in the first round, landing a crushing straight hand that put Jhun flat on his back. Lytle leapt onto Jhun and pounded him mercilessly, but Jhun somehow recovered to survive the first round.

But in the next round Lytle went for the kill, imposing a guillotine choke on Jhun which gave Lytle the win at 1:12 in Round 2.

Yves Edwards vs. Josh Thomson

For much of the round Thomson was in total control. He took down Edwards twice, and nailed him with some menacing punches. But a looping left kick to Thomson's neck sent him to the canvas. The ref stopped the fight, making Edwards the winner at 4:32 into Round 1.

Karo Parisyan vs. Nick Diaz

While Diaz had a few good moments, including an attempted armbar, a knee to Parisyan's face, and one takedown, it wasn't close to Parisyan's nine takedowns and superior assault. But the judges had it close: 29-28 for Parisyan; 30-27 for Parisyan; and 29-28 for Diaz, making Parisyan the winner by split decision.

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