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UFC 46: What happened when Randy Couture defended the Light-Heavyweight Championship versus Vitor Belfort?

Paul Benson
ANALYST
Feature
299   //    Timeless

Couture and Belfort clashed for the second time in the headliner
Couture and Belfort clashed for the second time in the headliner

The big attraction for UFC 46 was the headliner between Light-Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture and challenger, Vitor Belfort.

This was the rematch from their memorable bout at UFC 15 in which Couture dominated the younger fighter, against the odds.

The question going in was; could Couture at the age of 40 emulate the success of his win seven years earlier?

He couldn’t. However, there were more questions than answers at the conclusion of the main event. The fight lasted less than a minute as a glancing punch from Belfort that barely seemed to land actually cut Couture’s eyelid into his eye. The “Natural” wanted to continue but doctors insisted he needed to go straight to hospital or risk being blinded. Belfort was awarded the Light-Heavyweight Championship via Stoppage though it was perhaps likely the fight should have been declared a No Contest as Belfort did not inflict any damage on Couture other than the freak injury.

Due to the disappointing nature of the fight, a title re-match was immediately set up at UFC 49 which was appropriately titled “Unfinished Business.”

Back to UFC 46 and fortunately the co-main event which saw another title decided as Matt Hughes put the Welterweight Championship on the line versus former Lightweight contender, BJ Penn was a more entertaining contest.

Hughes clearly took the smaller Penn lightly in this bout, not believing his opponent had any chance of defeating him. Hughes would pay for his arrogance. Hughes attempted to stretch out Penn but was reversed and ended up on his back as Penn entered his guard and landed some shots. In an effort to break free, Hughes recklessly gave Penn his back which enabled the Hawaiian to sink in the match-winning choke to become the new Welterweight Champion in a truly earth-shattering upset.

BJ Penn: Shocked Matt Hughes to lift the UFC Welterweight Championship
BJ Penn: Shocked Matt Hughes to lift the UFC Welterweight Championship

Unfortunately for UFC, they were unable to capitalise on Penn’s terrific performance as the Hawaiian accepted a huge money offer from K-1 and departed the UFC, vacating the title in the process.

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Renato Verissimo made his UFC bow against a perennial contender, Carlos Newton. Verissimo, best known for training Penn in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu was a tough bout for Newton on paper and so it proved. Verissimo was awarded the decision after dominating Newton with takedowns and strikes throughout the 15-minute contest. An impressive debut for Verissimo which spelt the end for Newton in UFC.

Frank Mir got his vengeance on the giant, Wes Sims, following the illegal pounding he took from Sims at UFC 43, wherein the near seven-footer stomped on Mir repeatedly for the DQ. It was all action brawling from the bell as Mir and Sims exchanged blows before Mir landed a huge takedown. Mir then locked in a choke before changing course and deciding to pound Sims with sickening elbows instead. The buzzer saved Sims from certain defeat but it merely delayed the inevitable.

A great combination of right knee, left knee, right hook, left hook did for Sims in the second round. Mir was the winner and had himself a Heavyweight title match at UFC 48.

Lee Murray beat Jorge Rivera in the main card opener in just 1:45 with a triangle armbar after being taken down by Rivera early, but working the submission from his guard. Great debut performance by the Briton who was more renowned for his striking ability.

UFC 46 was not the greatest show of 2004 by any means, but there was entertainment to be had. However, the show will always be remembered for the disappointingly truncated main event.

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