UFC 97 is right around the corner, April 18, 2009 to be exact, and the hype behind it is huge! Arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world, Anderson Silva (23-4) is going for his unprecedented 7 straight title defense against Brazilian jujitsu expert Thales Leites in what is sure to be a very explosive main event. Also on the card is the battle between two of the worlds best 205 lb fighters, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua against the legendary Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell. Lets break this down now.
Silva, known for his crisp striking and fiercely competitive demeanor has been on a tear through the middleweight class and has dabbled a bit in the stacked light heavyweight division. Anyone standing in his way has suffered a loss via (T)KO or submission. No one has come close to even bringing Anderson to the brink of an upset. Coming into this bout against the champ, with a very strong 14-1 record whose only loss in the UFC is against the talented Martin Kampmann, is Brazilian standout Thales Leites. This is a very classic match up with striker vs grappler. Silva and Leites will surely be cautious of each other. We may see any instance of Anderson becoming frustrated and simply move in for the kill. I feel as though Leites may try to take down the champ as soon as that frustration shows. Unfortunately for him the swiftness and pit bull like aggression that keeps the belt around Silvas waste will come alive and will crumble the challenger to the mat. Silva will reign as champ and hold the record for the most title defenses and consecutive victories.
The Liddel v. Rua fight is an interesting one. Both men have been less than stellar in their recent outings and both have have been on top in the past. So saying this fight is a ‘must-win’ for both fighters is a gross understatement. Former pound for pound king Chuck Liddell is very hungry for a W. A win will propel him into contention status. A loss will bring his stock towards the bottom of the ranks and he just may fold and call it a career. Its also interesting to note that in his last nine fights, seven of them were main events. Mauricio Rua is a bit of an enigma. His PRIDE fighting career is one of the greatest in its short history. He has beaten the top stars from around the world with relative ease. In the UFC his determination has been questioned as is his gas tank. Shoguns 2 bouts in the UFC showed his lack of cardio which makes him very sluggish and susceptible to Chucks powerful punches. However, I feel as though Rua has been making strides towards better cardio and I believe he will flatten Chuck out to shock and awe of the thousands in the attendance and millions of fans world wide.
Keep it here for up to the minute results from this very exciting showcase of the UFCs superstars.