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On This Day

On This Day: Legends Make Their Mark In Vegas

On this day 15 years ago UFC legends met in Las Vegas, featuring Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes vs Frank Trigg

Just a week before UFC 52 took place at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, the epic battle between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar in The Ultimate Fighter Finale kicked off the MMA explosion, making the card headlined by the rematches between Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg a pivotal one for the sport. Thankfully, both bouts delivered, and there would be another future Hall of Famer on the card that night, as Mr. Georges St-Pierre took on Jason “Mayhem” Miller. That’s a lot to take in for one event, but here’s how we saw it that night on April 16, 2005.

It had been a long time coming for Chuck Liddell, seven years to be exact.  But after a series of disappointments and near-misses, “The Iceman” finally got his light heavyweight world championship after a stirring first round knockout of Randy Couture in the main event of UFC 52.

With the win, Liddell evened his record with Couture at 1-1.  Couture had stopped Liddell in three rounds in June of 2003.

After the customary touch of gloves, Liddell looked to counterpunch as Couture stalked.  When Couture did get close, Liddell was able to use lateral movement to hit the champion and then move out of danger.

With the crowd building to a frenzy, Couture was able to land with a couple of shots before grabbing Liddell against the cage.  After a brief skirmish, Liddell escaped, and Couture backed out holding his right eye after getting inadvertently poked in it by “The Iceman”.

On This Day: Liddell vs Couture 2 | Free Fight
On This Day: Liddell vs Couture 2 | Free Fight
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When action resumed, Couture immediately engaged, but was jarred by a short left hand.  Couture kept moving forward and swinging, yet when Liddell stepped in with a right hand on the chin, Couture fell as if he were shot.  Liddell immediately jumped on his fallen foe, and after two more shots to the head, referee John McCarthy called a halt to the bout at 2:06 of the first round.
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UFC welterweight champ Matt Hughes made it two in a row over Frank Trigg in the evening’s second title bout, sending ‘Twinkle Toes’ to defeat via rear naked choke in a rematch that packed more drama into 4:05 than most do in five rounds.

After an opening staredown, the two combatants met at the center of the cage and traded punches until a lock-up.  While against the cage, Trigg caught Hughes with a low knee that was not caught by referee Mario Yamasaki.  As Hughes retreated and tried to regain his bearings, Trigg pounced and sent Hughes to the canvas with a left to the jaw.  

In serious trouble, Hughes caught a flurry of blows on the ground as Trigg worked his way into the mounted position.

Hughes tried to escape the bottom but wound up giving Trigg his back at the three minute mark, and the challenger quickly capitalized with a rear naked choke.  Hughes’ face turned crimson, but amazingly he was able to escape and then follow up this good fortune by picking his foe up and carrying him across the cage before dropping him on his back with a trademark slam.

On This Day: Hughes vs Trigg 2 | Free Fight
On This Day: Hughes vs Trigg 2 | Free Fight
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Now it was Hughes in control, and in the full mount he opened up on Trigg with both hands.  With the packed house going wild, Trigg then turned, and it was Hughes sinking in a rear naked choke, which produced a tap out at the 4:05 mark.
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Renato “Babalu” Sobral made his return to the UFC for the first time in over two years a successful one, winning via second round submission over Travis Wiuff.
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Matt Lindland rebounded from his shocking first round knockout loss to David Terrell at UFC 49, submitting Travis Lutter with a guillotine choke in the second round.
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In the main card opener, rising welterweight star Georges St-Pierre pounded out a dominating three round decision over Jason “Mayhem” Miller. 
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Comebacking veteran Mike Van Arsdale decisioned John Marsh over three rounds in a heavyweight bout.
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Joe Doerksen submitted Canada’s Patrick Cote via rear naked choke at 2:35 of the third and final round of their middleweight contest.
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Ivan Salaverry defeated Joe Riggs via submission from a triangle choke at 2:42 of the first round in a middleweight matchup.
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Adding to the importance of the historic nature of this event was the induction of Dan Severn into the UFC Hall of Fame.
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