Moment of 'Truth'

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Brandon "The Truth" Vera has mountains of respect for Randy "The Natural" Couture.

But for one night, he will park his awe and try to beat the man he calls a "mentor" to a pulp before a sold-out crowd at the Manchester Evening News Arena.

The pair will headline tonight's UFC 105 main event that is available free on Spike TV.

"I still call him Mr. Couture. He's still a mentor and I've talked to him in the past about many things," says the 32-year-old light-heavyweight, who boasts an 11-3 record.

"The first arm bar I ever saw in real life was him doing it at the Olympic training centre and I didn't even know it was called an arm bar. It was an arm thingie. An arm hold thing."

Vera and Couture go back to a time before either was a mixed-martial arts fighter. Couture was an instructor in Oregon and Vera a young wrestler.

Those deep roots, however, will be meaningless the moment the bell rings.

"If you hesitate. If you decide that you want to hold back -- especially against Mr. Couture -- you're gonna get a bad ass whooping," says Vera, who is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Winnipeg's Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC 102.

"He has handed out some of the worst ass whoopings in the UFC and I don't want to be on the other side of that. All the respect in the world has to go to him. He's the ambassador of the sport. He's done everything. But come fight night, I won't be holding anything back."

'STRATEGIC'

Couture, who is coming off a decision loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, gives up size, reach and youth to Vera.

The master tactician knows full well about Vera's strong Muay Thai.

"He's a very strategic striker," says Couture, 46, who has a 16-10 record.

"He switches leads and plays long. Throws good straight long punches and good kicks, low and high. So I don't expect that he's going to change that just because he's looking at me."

Couture says he's been a fan of the Filipino-American fighter since he first joined the UFC.

"I've known Brandon for a long time. We knew each other from the wrestling world before we both started fighting," says Couture.

"And I've seen -- well, I think I've seen all of his fights at this point either live or on DVD now. So I've enjoyed watching him fight. I've enjoyed his style of fighting. And he's beaten some very good guys and done a great job."

UFC 105 will also feature a fight between Michael "The Count" Bisping and Vancouver's Denis Kang as well as a welterweight bout between Dan Hardy and Mike Swick, ,with the winner getting a shot at Georges St. Pierre's belt.

JOSE.RODRIGUEZ@SUNMEDIA.CA


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