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UFC 49: What happened when Randy Couture tried to regain the Light-Heavyweight title?

Paul Benson
329   //    Timeless

Randy Couture regained the Light-Heavyweight Championship from Vitor Belfort
Randy Couture regained the Light-Heavyweight Championship from Vitor Belfort

"The Natural" Randy Couture had a score to settle at UFC 49, which took place on August 21, 2004, after he had been robbed of the Light-Heavyweight Championship when a freak injury to his eyelid ensured the doctors forbade him to continue the fight less than a minute into the UFC 46 main event, the previous January.

The injury was sustained by the slightest of glancing blows by Vitor Belfort's right hand. Due to the fact that it was not an injury sustained as a result of a beating or heavy blow, the stoppage decision was quite unfair on Couture. A No Contest may have made more sense, but the decision at least ensured the final bout in the pair's trilogy was much anticipated.

Ironically, the main event of UFC 49 ended in another doctor stoppage - however this time with the result reversed.

The opening round did not live up to the hype as the pair jockeyed for position and exchanged little more than some strikes in the clinch and some more in Belfort's guard. The bout significantly upped a gear in the second however, when Couture opened up a cut above Belfort's eye via an accidental headbutt, and the Brazilian began to gush blood all over the Octagon in an unpleasant scene.

Couture took over the fight, brutally pounding away, and the doctor stopped the bout after round three, declaring Belfort could not continue. You could argue that this time Belfort was massively unfortunate to lose, given that his injury was sustained via an illegal move.

Perhaps these things even themselves out. Regardless, Couture was the new and two-time Light-Heavyweight Champion.

Post-fight, Couture called out Pride Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva, and suggested a unification bout. That would have been a classic encounter. Regrettably, it never happened.

It would be Chuck Liddell instead who challenged Couture, and he earned his shot by knocking out Vernon White inside the first round. It was miraculous White lasted that long as Liddell sent him flying to the mat twice before a final brutal shot knocked out White for good. This fight more closely resembled a massacre.

Chuck Liddell: Earned a shot at Randy Couture with victory at UFC 49
Chuck Liddell: Earned a shot at Randy Couture with victory at UFC 49

Elsewhere, Joe Riggs dismantled his namesake, Joe Doerkson inside Doerkson's guard, with an impressive array of striking which seemingly made him a contender in UFC. However, after he missed weight to contest a Welterweight title fight with Matt Hughes at UFC 56, his career faltered on the main stage.

David Terrell had a debut to remember when he knocked out established star, Matt Lindland in just 24 seconds after landing a massive left and following up with punches. Wow!

In the opening card bout, Justin Eilers wasted no time in dispatching Mike Kyle in little over a minute. Kyle immediately smashed Eilers with two low blows, which upset Eilers enough to unload with a sick right-left hand combination to knock his opponent out.

UFC 49 did not outperform the previous event on pay per view, UFC 48, despite a stronger line up. It pulled 80,000 buys.