The UFC returns to Manchester, England this Saturday night for UFC 105, featuring a card stacked with interesting matchups that will have fans at the MEN Arena on their feet. Read on for the UFC 105 fantasy preview and get up to speed on all the main card action.
ROSS PEARSON VS. AARON RILEY
Fighting out of Sunderland, England, Ross Pearson is looking to start his official UFC career off with an impressive victory in front of his own countrymen. After winning a unanimous decision victory over Andre Winner at The Ultimate Fighter Team US vs. Team UK FINALE, Pearson knows that there isn’t a better opportunity to kick off a career in the UFC than by fighting on free television across the world. Having not fought since June, Pearson is eager to show people that he’s a much-improved fighter than the one he was back in his last fight.
In what could be the biggest fight of Aaron Riley’s career, he’d like nothing more than to fly across the pond and beat Pearson in front of the Spike TV cameras. With an overall losing record inside the Octagon, Riley is aware that with the level of fighters the UFC possesses, its hard to get many more opportunities unless he can put together a consistent winning streak. So not only does Riley plan on winning the fight, he’s looking to do so in dominant fashion.
In what could be one of the most evenly matched fights of the night, it will be interesting to see who ends up with their hand raised at the end. Look for Riley to try and end the fight as quickly as possible or at least take the crowd out of it early. For Pearson, look for him to stay relaxed – trying to frustrate Riley into making a mistake that could lead to a winning rally. As the fight goes on, Pearson should have the better cardio to eventually tire out Riley - if the fight reaches the 15 minute mark.
JAMES WILKS VS. MATT BROWN
Winner of his last two fights, Matt Brown wants to show everyone that he has turned the corner as a professional and is worthy of moving up the rankings in the welterweight division. Brown believes that he has the ability and is well rounded enough to fight and beat the best fighters in the world. In his last two fights, Brown has shown everyone he’s a much more complete fighter – showing power in his hands, improving wrestling ability, and the ability to submit his opponent, regardless of the position that he’s in.
Having not fought since his submission victory over DaMarques Johnson at The Ultimate Fighter Team US vs. Team UK FINALE, a win which earned him a UFC contract, James Wilks is eager to show fans watching across the world that he’s a fighter they’d better get to know because he doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. Wilks wants to prove to the fans that his success on the show will translate into a successful UFC career. That career starts the second the Octagon gate closes.
In what should turn out to be a very entertaining fight, look for Brown to try and keep the action going fast as he tries to score a quick knockout victory. For Wilks, look for him to come out with a much slower approach – trying to set up a takedown that will help him work towards winning Submission of the Night honors.
MICHAEL BISPING VS. DENIS KANG
For Denis Kang, who is still trying to make an impact inside the Octagon, there isn’t a much better way to do it than by going into enemy territory and knocking off UK star Michael Bisping. On the other hand, Bisping is out to show UFC fans in the United Kingdom that he’s back on track to bring UFC gold to the Manchester following his July loss to Dan Henderson.
The definite crowd favorite on Saturday night, Manchester’s own Michael Bisping hopes to improve on his impressive 18-2 record. Since competing on season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter, Bisping has turned himself into one of the most recognizable fighting figures across Europe. Although he was seen in millions of households across the world during his appearance on The Ultimate fighter, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll gain instant stardom. It’s pretty simple how you achieve that – win your fights. Winning fights is what Bisping has done since being on the show, putting together a 6-2 record. His only two losses during that period have come at the hands of Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson. However, on Saturday night, the pressure is going to be weighing heavy on him. The last time he fought, Bisping suffered a knockout loss to Henderson. Wanting to become the first England born fighter to win UFC gold, Bisping knows that suffering two consecutive losses in the Octagon will send him down the ladder of potential fighters to win the middleweight title currently held by Anderson Silva.
With a 32-11-1, 2 NC record, Denis Kang knows that by scoring a victory over fan-favorite Bisping, it could go a long way towards eventually putting him in the middle of the title picture. Although Kang has only fought twice inside the Octagon, the international standout is aware that there’s no better way to gain fan support than by putting on an impressive showing for everyone watching for free on Spike TV.
In the beginning of this fight, it will be interesting to see how the nerves of Bisping respond to fighting in front of his home crowd for the first time since his lone knockout defeat. If Bisping does make a mistake, look for it to come early in the fight. Kang will be looking for that mistake to come and will certainly try to capitalize on it. If Bisping comes out trying to end the fight quickly with heavy punches, don’t be surprised if Kang tries to bring the fight to the canvas in order to work for a submission. However, Kang will have no problem staying on his feet and trying to score a knockout victory. This fight should be fast-paced and action packed. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t make it out of the first round.
MIKE SWICK VS. DAN HARDY
This fight has major significance for both fighters, because the winner will be firmly in line for a shot at welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
A native of Houston, TX., Mike Swick made it easy for people to realize why he was coined with the nickname, “Quick.” In his first four fights inside the Octagon, it took a combined 5:10 (a little over one round) for him to win all of those fights. Although his fights since then haven’t ended as quickly, other than a loss to Yushin Okami, Swick has put together an impressive 5-1 record. A competitor from season one of The Ultimate Fighter, he knows that an impressive victory against Hardy may put him one win away from becoming the fourth TUF alum to put UFC gold around his waist.
Fighting in front of his own countrymen, Dan Hardy knows that the fans filling the MEN Arena on Saturday night are looking for one thing out of him – a victory via knockout. And although Hardy is relatively new to the UFC (with a perfect 3-0 record) Hardy isn’t a stranger to winning, and with an overall mixed martial arts record of 22-6, 1 NC Hardy believes he has the ability and experience to beat the best fighters the UFC has to offer.
When matching these two fighters up on paper, it’s hard not to imagine that one of them will win via knockout. Although both fighters prefer to keep the action of the fight standing, don’t be surprised if Swick tries to bring the action to the ground. If the fight does end up on the canvas, look for Hardy to try and stall Swick – forcing the referee to stand the fight back up in order to have a better chance of pulling off the victory.
RANDY COUTURE VS. BRANDON VERA
Two former members of the United States Armed Forces will do battle in the main event on Saturday night. When the gate closes and the action begins, both fighters know the significance of the outcome. Although both fighters are at very different stages of their respective careers, a win is a must if either Randy Couture or Brandon Vera want a title shot in the near future.
A former Olympic wrestling alternate, two-time light heavyweight champion, three-time heavyweight champion, and one of only two men to have won a championship title in two different weight classes in the UFC, Randy Couture has accomplished nearly everything there is to accomplish in the sport of mixed martial arts. But yet, at the age of 46, he is looking to not only prove to people watching him fight on Saturday night, but to himself as well, that he still has the ability to beat the best fighters in the world. Even though he has fought in fifteen title fights and beaten some of the best fighters in the world, such as Jeremy Horn, Pedro Rizzo, Vitor Belfort, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, and Chuck Liddell, Couture may actually be facing the biggest fight of his legendary career come Saturday night. Coming off two straight losses inside the Octagon to Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, people are starting to raise the question of whether or not it is time for Couture to hang up his gloves for good. When the Octagon gate closes on Saturday night, Couture is not only trying to move one step closer into title contention but would like to show people he still has plenty of fight left in him as well.
After starting his professional career in 2002, it didn’t take long for people to notice that Brandon Vera was going to become a top-level fighter. After winning all of his fights in the WEC in impressive fashion, Vera moved his career over to the UFC and continued to win all of his fights inside the Octagon. After his third victory in the UFC, Vera took on former heavyweight champion Frank Mir. Even though it took less than two-minutes to defeat Mir, Vera never got his chance at UFC gold due to a dispute with his former manager, which forced him to take nearly a year off. Since the layoff, Vera has gone three and three, but after a two-fight winning streak, he looks to be back in form, and if he can beat a quality opponent like Couture, Vera will inch ever so close to a shot at UFC gold – something he’s been waiting for since 2006.
In a clash of two completely different styles, it will be interesting to see which of these fighters’ fighting style prevails. Known for his world-class Greco-Roman wrestling ability, look for Couture to try and bring the fight to where he is most comfortable – the canvas of the Octagon. That may be easier said than done. For Couture to have the opportunity to bring the fight to the mat, he will need to get into the striking range of the hard-hitting Vera. For Vera to stay away from where Couture wants to bring the fight, look for him to use his speed advantage and boxing ability to keep Couture at bay. If Vera is successful in doing so, it could end up being a long Saturday night for Couture. Although most consider Vera to be the much better striker, Couture has shown glimpses of having solid striking ability as well, at least enough to close the gap and work his game on the inside. If Vera takes Couture lightly while the action of the fight is standing in order to concentrate on a potential takedown attempt, Couture may surprise “The Truth” and add another chapter to his storied career.