But on a card that featured the UFC debut of Georges St-Pierre and appearances from other future and former champions like Frank Mir, Matt Serra and Carlos Newton, the young man who stole the show was former lightweight title challenger BJ Penn, who moved up to the 170-pound weight class and defeated long-reigning champion Matt Hughes in what was one of the biggest upsets in UFC history at the time. 

Today, we look back at UFC 46: SuperNatural…


Fresh off dominating wins over Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, UFC light heavyweight champion Randy Couture had proved that, at 40, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number.”  But against Brazil’s Vitor Belfort, Couture was once again going to be facing a younger, more explosive opponent (albeit one he already held a 1997 victory over) making the UFC 46 main event a compelling one.  Adding to the drama was the fact that Belfort’s sister, Priscila, had disappeared weeks before the fight, leaving “The Phenom” in a mental state of either complete focus or complete disarray.

Yet once the bout commenced, it was over almost as soon as it began.  

After the two briefly sparred with each other, Belfort grazed Couture with a straight left.  The two clinched against the fence, with Couture in obvious discomfort.  Referee John McCarthy intervened, bringing in ringside physician Margaret Goodman to examine Couture’s left eye, and she recommended that McCarthy call a halt to the bout at the 49-second mark, a stoppage that crowned Belfort the new champion.

The culprit that ended the contest was a gashed lower left eyelid of Couture, a cut caused by a seam on Belfort’s glove, and that exposed the eyeball and required immediate surgery.