History In The Making: Vitor Belfort Cuts Randy Couture From The UFC Light Heavyweight Title

Photo of Vitor Belfort by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.

In the annals of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history, few events are as significant as UFC 46: "Supernatural," which took place on Jan. 31, 2004 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The "Sin City" pay-per-view (PPV) marked the lone appearance of criminal mastermind "Lightning" Lee Murray, as well as the debut of a talented young Canadian named Georges St. Pierre. In addition, a Hawaiian "Prodigy" named B.J. Penn would turn the welterweight division upside down by upsetting reigning 170-pound champion Matt Hughes.

But that's not all.

The main event crowned Vitor Belfort as the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, a distinction he hopes to reclaim in his upcoming 205-pound affair against Jon Jones at UFC 152 this Saturday night (Sept. 22, 2012) from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Gold is sweeter the second time around.

Roughly six years ago, "The Phenom" would earn himself a rematch against Randy Couture, who finished the Brazilian bomber by way of technical knockout in a heavyweight title fight at UFC 15 "Collision Course" back in late 1997. Leaner, meaner and a few years wiser, Belfort was finally ready to get his revenge.

Here's how it all went down.

As officials scamper out of the cage, Belfort calmly sways from side-to-side, his head shaved and his neck as thick as a Montezuma Cypress. Standing across from him, the sport's elder statesman awaits, bemused, likely reminding himself of how their first dance unfolded.

"Vitor looks remarkably relaxed and composed," observes cageside commentator Joe Rogan.

A touch of gloves makes it official. Couture lumbers in after nearly 18 seconds of circling with his tried-and-true left low kick to right hook combination. But something goes awry as Belfort instinctively counter-punches before reversing the charge and pushing "The Natural" into the fence.

The champion immediately begins wincing as "The Phenom," unfazed, continues to grind away and work for position.

Seconds pass and referee John McCarthy becomes aware of Couture's dilemma. He intercedes on behalf of the wounded warrior and enlists the services of the ringside physician. Befuddled, play-by-play man Mike Goldberg suggests a poke to the eye, a prevalent injury in a sport requiring open-handed gloves.

The clock stops at 4:13 of round one and does not restart.

"Oh my god ... oh no ... you gotta be kidding me!" The broadcast booth echoes the sentiments of fans in attendance and watching at home as the Brazilian strips his nemesis of the 205-pound title after tearing his eye apart with a single blow.

They would eventually settle their "Unfinished Business" in a rubber match at UFC 49, but on this night back in 2004, it took just one punch for Vitor Belfort to become the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.

How many will it take in 2012?

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