UFC 97: Redemption Pre-Fight Analysis
Anderson Silva vs Thales Leites
With no more challengers left in the 185 lbs division, a young submission fighter named Thales Leites, who is in a five-fight winning streak, is ready to be fed to the Immortal Anderson Silva. Some may say, “Anything can happen in MMA! Look at how Matt Serra TKO’d GSP!” But they must be crazy if they think the same can say to Anderson Silva. With Silva’s complete confidence, intelligence, perfect striking skills (that’s right, not good, not great, but perfect), and superb jiu-jitsu, unless he wants to lose on purpose, I don’t see how else Leites can put him away. Silva by first round knockout.
Chuck Liddell vs Mauricio Rua
If anyone still remembers the epic brawl between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva, you’d most likely hope Liddell can deliver the same level of ‘epicness’ tonight against another former Pride king, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in UFC 97. Sure, “The Iceman” just got knocked out by now the UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad “Sugar” Evans in a similar fashion to his last fight against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, but I wouldn’t blame the guy who is turning 40 this year. According to his camp, Liddell is focused and has been training very hard for this fight. Should we be excited by this news? No we shouldn’t be. It’s because they say that every time before a fight. I’m sure the fans, the sponsors, and the UFC won’t be happy to hear he’s preparing for this fight by eating cheeseburgers and getting drunk every day. Of course this will not be the case. Although “The Iceman” is also famous for his party lifestyle, we cannot ignore the fact that he was a five time UFC champion and a future Hall of Famer. As long as he’s still healthy and has the fire to burn, we should not count him out just yet.
Liddell’s opponent, “Shogun”, is like a younger version of Anderson Silva in terms of striking ability, but is also well-versed in submission. He was considered as the number one light-heavyweight fighter of the world before his knee injury. A lot of casual MMA fans do not know much about him, and probably don’t expect too much from him after seeing his last two disappointing fights in the UFC against Forrest Griffin and Mark Coleman. But as a die-hard MMA fan, I can assure you that “Shogun” is the real deal when he’s healthy. I remember it took me a whole year to feel perfect again after I sprained my ankle in a wrestling match, so to think a guy who has gone through two knee surgeries in two years, I simply can’t think of any better excuses for his lack of conditioning. But the good news is he looked extraordinary at the official weigh-in yesterday. Let’s hope “Shogun” is really ready to fight this time and doesn’t feel forced.
The bottom line is, we have a former UFC champion who has passed his prime fighting a former number one light-heavyweight of the world who has recently recovered from his knee surgery. Based on how good “Shogun” looked at the weigh-in, I’m going to believe he’s back to his old self again and put my son’s college fund on him, but I won’t be mad if the fight goes the other way.