Category Archives: Wanderlei Silva

What A Weekend For MMA

It’s been a long weekend in our sport, and I’m pretty exhausted.  After the IFL Grand Prix and UFC 79, it’s enough to make you wonder how we got to this point from the days of tiny shows in civic center arenas that went straight to VHS tapes.  How far we’ve come.  Anyway, it’s Monday morning now, so back to work…

I keep reading on the internet how surprised people are that Ryan Schultz beat Chris Horodecki for the IFL lightweight title.  Apparently, no one even gave Schultz a chance, which is odd when you consider he’s the only man to beat Roger Huerta, so he must know a thing or two about this MMA stuff.  What’s really strange to me though are the people who seem to think Schultz’s victory spells doom for the IFL.

I mean, really?  First, people complain that the IFL is propping Horodecki up and protecting him as the league’s golden boy.  Then, when he loses his first fight to a tough guy like Schultz, they think the IFL is finished?  I just don’t see it.  Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think the more diversity and unpredictability the IFL has, the better.  Who wants to see the same guy win every time?  Now the division is wide open, and it should be interesting to see Schultz’s first title defense.  I know for a fact that he and John Gunderson have wanted to fight each other for a very long time, and that could be an explosive one.

On the whole, the five championship fights on the IFL card were all great ones, and all ended decisively.  What really surprised me was not so much Schultz winning, but Benji Radach losing.

Matt Horwich has got to be a truly baffling fighter to go up against.  His style is so awkward and it doesn’t seem to bother him at all to get hit in the face over and over again.  Radach was doing a great job in the first round, circling away and landing solid shots.  But Horwich just never stops.  He may be a little on the weird side, but that really only makes him more difficult to figure out in the ring.  I can’t wait to see Horwich and Tim Kennedy go at it, which has got to happen hopefully sooner rather than later.

I didn’t get to see any of the UFC fights until returning home yesterday afternoon, but they, too, were worth the wait.  Georges St. Pierre proved what a dominant fighter he can be with a submission victory over Matt Hughes, and Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva treated fans to a truly memorable battle.

After the GSP-Hughes fight, I have to wonder what Matt Serra is thinking right now.  He shocked St. Pierre the first time, but does he believe he can do it again?  St. Pierre looked to me like one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world on Saturday night.  When he comes in ready and focused, I don’t think there’s a 170-pounder in the world who stands a chance, Serra included.

The other question at hand is, what becomes of Hughes now?  He’s said before that he only has a few fights left in him, and if he can’t beat GSP there’s little hope for him in the welterweight title picture, so what’s he waiting around for?  The answer may be a grudge match with Serra after his GSP fight.  That’s the only thing that makes sense for Hughes, other than retirement.

As for Liddell, the win over Silva is a tremendous career boost and will stand as a hallmark moment in his already Hall of Fame career, but I don’t think it qualifies him for an instant title shot.  I’d like to see him against somebody like Forrest Griffin first, but that probably won’t happen now that Griffin and “Rampage” Jackson are coaching the reality show.  More and more, TUF seems like an albatross for MMA, and for exactly that reason.  It puts the title picture on hold in whatever division the coaches come from.  So what does Liddell do now?

Well, how about a fight with “Shogun” Rua?  He got beat pretty soundly by Griffin, but it might make for a good contender match.  Then again, the UFC will probably just hold Liddell out of action until after Jackson-Griffin, rather than take a chance on him losing and getting tossed back in the 205-pound ranks.  Oh well.

As for Silva, he fought well enough to prove that he can still make some waves in the UFC.  He’ll probably never wear another major MMA title, but a rematch between he and “Rampage” still has some heat, though that’s a long wait for “The Axe Murderer.”  Wait a minute, what’s Keith Jardine up to these days?  Hey, I’m just saying.

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Filed under Chris Horodecki, Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, IFL, Matt Hughes, MMA, Ryan Schultz, UFC, UFC 79, Wanderlei Silva

Fun With Betting Odds: UFC 79

It’s a big weekend in MMA, which is only fitting considering the year we’ve had.  I’m in Connecticut for the final round of the IFL Grand Prix, while across the country the UFC has one of their best offerings of 2007.  That’s enough great MMA in one night to last you several months, but if you really want more there’s always the Fedor-Choi New Year’s Eve show in a couple of days.  In case you haven’t heard, that fight will supposedly feature special rules outlawing knee strikes (aka: Choi’s best weapon), thus upgrading it from a farce to a mockery.

Anyway, now it’s time for one of my favorite little games: breaking down the betting odds.  Bodog has odds on the UFC, IFL, and Yarrenoka! (Fedor’s going off at -1500, in case you were curious), but I’m going to stick to just the UFC so as to avoid any conflict of interest.

Once again, bet on MMA at your own risk.  It probably isn’t a good idea.  But I’m guessing people have told you that before, but you just won’t listen.

Matt Hughes (+190) vs. Georges St. Pierre (-240)

Even after Hughes’ last performance against St. Pierre and his face-heel turn in the last year and a half, I’m still a little saddened to see the line this lopsided.  Let’s not forget that Hughes dominated the welterweight division for years.  Those years seem to be all in the past, but after St. Pierre’s loss to Serra who knows what’s going on in his mind?  St. Pierre needs this win for his psyche and for his confidence.  If he starts out tentative Hughes could shock him, but don’t bet on it.  St. Pierre is still the favorite here for good reason.

Chuck Liddell (+110) vs. Wanderlei Silva (-140)

I’d be interested to know exactly what this line is based on.  Both guys are coming off two straight losses, both are on the downside of once-dominant careers, and both need this win to stay in the game.  Stylistically, Silva seems tailor made for Liddell, but so did Keith Jardine.  I still like Liddell in this one, and though the line isn’t great it might be good enough for small action.

Rameau Sokoudjou (-115) vs. Lyoto Machida (-115)

I’ve seen varying lines on this fight, with most pegging Sokoudjou the slight underdog.  That’s understandable, considering Machida’s ability to slow a fight down and control it.  Sokoudjou is explosive, but still untested.  I like him to win this, but it could easily go either way and the line isn’t much help at all.

Melvin Guillard (-225) vs. Rich Clementi (+185)

Guillard is the more athletically dangerous fighter here, but Clementi is a better tactician and technician.  If Guillard gets reckless Clementi could easily take him.  The line is good enough to justify some risk here.

Dean Lister (-325) vs. Jordan Radev (+250)

Radev had a wrestling background, so this isn’t as lopsided as some previous bouts the UFC has given to Lister.  Still, anyone with anything other than a stellar ground game is probably in trouble against “The Boogeyman”.  This should be interesting to see how Lister rebounds from a previous injury and how his striking game is coming.  If you’re one of the people who believe he’s dumb enough to stand and trade for very long before taking it to the mat, go ahead and put money down on Radev.  I am not one of those people.

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Filed under Betting Odds, Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, MMA, Sports, UFC, UFC 79, Uncategorized, Wanderlei Silva

What’s Really At Stake in Liddell-Silva Bout

In just a few days the UFC will showcase two matches that could easily be main events by themselves, one of which is a dream match of two years ago that MMA fans thought they might never see. Ever since Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva sat atop the 205-pound division in their respective organizations, we’ve wanted to see them square off. It seemed like the definitive UFC vs. Pride showdown, and it also began to seem more and more like one that would forever remain a dream. So now that it’s finally happening, why isn’t there a little more excitement in the air?

One answer is that the UFC hype machine is inexplicably asleep on the job. The same organization that got us to believe any number of other underwhelming matchups would yield the fight of the century seems to think their success was assured the day they inked this fight for UFC 79. The truth is, this fight’s ready-made storyline has unlimited potential. Too bad it’s being ignored.

Liddell-Silva is, in many ways, a good old-fashioned ‘Loser Leaves Town’ match. Two fighters who were once icons of the sport, now in what looks to be the twilight of great careers, squaring off to see who still has it and who should look for a new line of work. That’s essentially what this match is about, even if the UFC isn’t saying it.

That doesn’t mean I believe that we’ll never see the loser of this fight in the Octagon again, or that the winner will necessarily have revived his career with a victory. It isn’t bound to produce any result so definitive, at least not officially. But at the same time this match is a career barometer for both men.

Liddell is coming off two consecutive losses in which he looked like a grim shadow of the dominant fighter who once ushered Randy Couture into a short-lived retirement. Silva suffered two devastating knockout losses as Pride took for granted and misused his services in the last days of their empire. That means both of them are standing at a precipice right now. Both of them have to be asking themselves whether those losses were just an unfortunate string of events, or if they were the death knell of a career.

A lot of people have said that Liddell-Silva is a match two years too late.  That’s true, but only if you believe that the point of the match is to see who’s the best 205-pounder in the world.  The answer is, neither of them.  They haven’t fallen off the top ten list, but neither one is a title-holder anymore.  Even so, this is still an important fight if you view it through the right lens.

We shouldn’t try to look at this as a battle for supremacy.  It’s not about that.  Instead it’s a battle to stay in the game.  That’s about as high as the stakes can get.

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Filed under Chuck Liddell, MMA, Sports, UFC, Uncategorized, Wanderlei Silva

Paulo Filho Says He Won’t Help Chuck Liddell…And He Means It

Brazilian middleweight Paulo Filho apparently won’t be accepting an invitation to train with Chuck Liddell in advance of “The Iceman’s” match with Wanderlei Silva, according to Brazilian website Tatame.  Though he’ll be in the U.S. to defend his WEC title, and though he has previously made it known just how much he hates Chute Boxe fighters, of which Silva is one, it seems as though his nationalist pride is what’s keeping him from helping Liddell:

“I would never train with an American to fight with a Brazilian,” Filho said, in Portuguese.  “I am not a slut or a prostitute.”

Those are pretty strong words from Filho, who’s known for saying what’s on his mind.  And while I think he might be making a little too much out of this, it does bring up important questions about the fluidity of training and training partners in MMA.

Before a big fight you always hear about who a fighter went and trained with.  Most of his work will be done at his home gym, but he might spend a week in Oregon with Team Quest or in southern California with Dan Henderson.  He might go out to Vegas and train with Randy Couture or up to Bettendorf with the Miletich camp.  With so many fighters criss-crossing the country to find new training partners, it’s bound to happen that you end up training a guy one of your teammates will eventually fight, and maybe even giving away some of his arsenal in the process.

Of course, we don’t need to make this into a huge deal.  Everyone knows what Team Quest fighters like to do without having to set foot in the Team Quest gym (which is, by the way, a great place to overhear an argument about who took the last can of Skoal).  But that also doesn’t mean you want your opponent to have intimate knowledge of how you train and what your gym spends their time on.

Filho’s reasons for refusal are of a different nature, however.  Even though he hates Chute Boxe and, by extension, Wanderlei, they’re still both Brazilians.  It’s especially understandable when you consider that Brazilians have long felt it difficult to get a fair shake in America.  They think close decisions will always go against them, and if they’re fighting an American fighter they had better finish the fight.  It’s similar to what many American fighters feel about fighting in Japan.

How justified those feelings are is difficult to say.  And it does seem a little unnecessary for Filho to insist he’s not a prostitute, unless somehow there was a mistranslation and he thought that instead of being asked to train with Liddell he was being asked to have sex with Liddell for money, in which case it would be an understandable reaction (and really, don’t most English phrases translate into Portuguese that way?).  But at the same time, I agree with his sentiment.  Why should he help an American beat one of his countrymen?

Then again, that door swings both ways.  If this is the stance Filho is going to take, he’d better be content to train only with fellow Brazilians for the rest of his career, because people are bound to remember this statement.  That means no swapping training tips with Matt Lindland over a can of Skoal in the near future, which is both a good and bad thing.

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Filed under Chuck Liddell, MMA, Paulo Filho, Sports, UFC, Wanderlei Silva

It’s Official: Liddell-Silva at UFC 79

The long-awaited match between former UFC champion Chuck Liddell and former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva will finally take place in December, UFC president Dana White announced at last night’s Spike TV Scream 2007 award show.

One can only assume that pressure from Spike, which is the UFC’s cable TV home, led to the announcement (deemed a “HUGE Announcement” in the UFC’s email newsletter) at this particular venue.  If the anticipation of this announcement led one single person to watch the show without having a relative involved in it somehow, I suppose the tactic was a success.  The rest of us were probably busy not caring about contrived genre award shows, so we had to settle for reading it on the internet.

It’s not exactly a surprise announcement since the Direct TV website has been displaying ads for this fight at UFC 79 for the past few days, but it’s exciting nonetheless.  Hardcore fans have been waiting for this match for years.  While some of the luster is gone after a recent string of defeats for both Liddell and Silva, their styles alone should make a for a great match even if it doesn’t have the title ramifications it once did.

When I was writing for Ninjastar.tv a couple of years back, Brad Monahan did an interview with Liddell where he discussed a potential fight with Silva.  His prediction for the fight then — “It’s not that hard, we’ll just hit each other until one of us falls down” — still seems applicable now.

Silva’s ultra-aggressive striking style and Liddell’s powerful counter-striking style seem like a recipe for a great match whether there are belts at stake or not.  In fact, it’s almost better that they’re both coming off losses.  Instead of billing the match as a ‘Champion vs. Champion’ affair, now it becomes a bout to see who still has a future in the sport and who should think a little harder about retirement.

Add this match to the only other officially announced bout — Matt Serra vs. Matt Hughes for the welterweight title — and you have a hell of a fight card.

There’s no official word yet on whether the IFL Grand Prix finals will be a free lead-in on MyNetworkTV before the UFC event gets underway, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it works out that way.

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Filed under Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, MMA, Sports, UFC, Wanderlei Silva

Hackleman: Liddell-Silva May Still Happen in December

Fighthype.com is feauturing an interview with John Hackleman, the longtime trainer of former UFC light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell, wherein he says that he believes the UFC would like to put Liddell up against Wanderlei Silva on their Dec. 29 fight card:

PC: I know you guys were eyeballing a fight with Shogun, but his knee surgery will prevent that fight from happening. Will you still like to get the Wanderlei fight?

JH: Looks like the Wanderlei fight is going to happen.

PC: Ok, is it still going to be in December?

JH: December, yeah!

PC: How are Chuck’s ribs doing? He took a lot of body kicks.

JH: They were up high on his left side and I’m sure they stung, but it wasn’t like a solid knee or anything. They just bruise a little bit and then they go away. He’s already back sparring.

Obviously, that’s very exciting for those of us who have been waiting years to see this fight. It’s the smart move by the UFC to make it happen as soon as possible, because who knows for sure just how long both guys are going to viable as top-ranked contenders. With a couple of solid undercard matches, the whole event could shape up to be a great one.

You can read the full interview here, but be warned that a good deal of it is strangely devoted to awkward small talk between the interviewer (Percy Crawford) and Hackleman. What do you expect. It’s the internet.

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Filed under Chuck Liddell, MMA, Sports, UFC, Wanderlei Silva

Tito Ortiz Talking Crazy?

Rumor has it that Tito Ortiz made an appearance at a Shelton, Washington casino to announce that his next fight would be against either Rashad Evans or Wanderlei Silva.  I’ll skip over my conjectures as to why Ortiz was even at a casino in Shelton, WA in the first place, let alone making announcements there, and go right to the part where I say that I sincerely hope the UFC does not match him with Silva next.

After their first bout ended in a draw, Ortiz-Evans II makes far more sense than does Ortiz-Silva II (in case you’ve forgotten, they fought back in 2000 in the UFC, with Ortiz winning a decision).  If I were the UFC I’d have Silva locked in a padded room until I could put him up against Liddell in December or January.  They just shouldn’t take a chance on him before that because who knows how much is left in “The Axe Murderer”?

No matter what you might think of Ortiz’s antics, however, you have to admit that he’s learned the lessons of self-promotion better than anyone.  By running his mouth constantly he’s assured that there will always be someone who wants to fight him and there will always be a significant number of people who will pay to see it in the hopes that Ortiz gets his face smashed in.

That’s smart.  So many athletes give boring boiler-plate responses in interviews and miss the opportunity to make themselves a commodity the way Ortiz has done.  He realizes that being a fighter is as much about entertainment as it is about performance, but at the same time he’s known for running a grueling training camp and turning mediocre fighters into dynamic ones.

Personally, I think Rashad Evans would beat Ortiz in a rematch, but I hope the UFC makes it happen soon anyway.  I also hope that, when it’s time, Ortiz gets out of the fight game and puts his obvious talents as a coach and trainer to work.

Imagine the force he could be if he were building fighters in his Big Bear gym and at the same time serving as their incendiary mouthpiece when the cameras start rolling.  Hopefully he learned something from watching his nemesis Ken Shamrock soldier on past his prime.  But I’m not counting on it.

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Filed under MMA, Rashad Evans, Sports, Tito Ortiz, UFC, Wanderlei Silva