UFC 97, one would be hard-pressed to find another event that kept the audience on the edge of their seat in such a way. There were a few common questions the fans wanted answered.
Will Anderson Silva make MMA history by achieving his ninth consecutive win? Can this relatively unknown fighter Thales Laites really stand up to "The Spider"? Will Mauricio "Shogun" Rua be the one to end the career of MMA legend Chuck "the iceman" liddell?
These questions were answered last night in what might have been the most disappointing UFC event to date.
In Round 1 of the Liddell-Rua fight, Chuck came out looking as good as someone with such an unorthodox fighting style could. It was obvious that Rua had worked on his conditioning since his horrendous performance against Mark Coleman.
With 32 seconds left in the first round, Rua caught "the Iceman" with a well-placed left hook that dropped Liddell to the canvas instantly. Shogun then dropped to his knees and unleashed a bombardment of punishing hammer fists and punches.
At 4:28 of the first round the referee decided that Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell was not intelligently defending himself, thus ending the bout. As a matter of fact, he wasn't defending himself at all.
I think it is safe to say that most long-time MMA fans were disappointed to see "The Iceman" fall. It was a slow and embarrassing fall from grace. It started with his loss to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
Ironic that his seven-fight win streak started after a loss to Rampage and ended with a loss to Rampage.
UFC President Dana White has said:
“You're never going to see Chuck Liddell on the canvas again. At the end of the day, I care about these guys. I don't want to see anybody stick around too long.”
Chuck Liddell's response was a reluctant since he seemed to semi-agree.
"Yeah, that's probably safe to say, but I'm not gonna make any decisions until I go home and talk to everybody, talk to all my people, my friends."
As much as it hurts this writer to admit, any good friend would tell Chuck that he has had a great run but, unfortunately for him and MMA fans alike, its over.
The next thing he can look foward too would be his inevitable induction into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Even more disappointing than Chuck Liddell's possible retirement was the anticlimactic main event between Anderson "The Spider" Silva and Thales Leites.
It seemed like a 25-minute sparring session between training partners. Anderson was obviously working on his offense while Thales was practicing his ingenious fetal position defense. It was an "exciting" blizzard of thigh punches and knee kicks.
Thales was circling the octagon for the majority of the fight. When he felt like actually engaging Anderson, he would try to take the fight to the ground to no avail.
For a reason unknown to us all, he felt the need to continually slide to the ground in the guard position. The problem was, he wasn't guarding anything, it was just him laying on the ground.
It grew tiresome to Silva and the referee. Silva would either walk away and let Thales get off the ground or the referee would instantaneously step in and give Leites room to get up.
Lets not forget to mention how angry the audience became. On more than one occasion they started shouting "GSP! GSP! GSP!" in reference to the Canadian-born Undisputed welterweight champion. They were in Canada after all and while watching such a boring fight, this came as no surprise.
The most exciting part of the fight was sadly not when Anderson punched Thales in the thigh, but when the audience started chanting "Bull(synonym for feces)!".
If there was any strategy at all in Thales' actions I would assume he was trying to semi-mimic Silva's upset loss to Ryo Chonan via flying scissor heel hook. If this was his strategy, he failed miserably.
We can't put all the blame on Thales alone, Silva showed us very little of his monstrous fighting capability.
He spent most of the match trying to psyche-out Leites by moving his hands around very quickly and occasionally exchanging a few hits including a soon to be famous thigh punch and kicks to the knee.
All in all, the main event was boring and the co-main event was disappointing and saddening at the same time.
It is obvious to everyone that Anderson Silva could have done a lot more to take out Thales Leites. As sad as it is to admit, everyone saw the end of Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell career approaching.
Silva's fight was supposed to be amazing, at least that was the way it was marketed and the way the fans expected it to be.
Everyone was looking forward to watching Silva dominate another opponent and be a part of UFC and MMA history. The latter has happened, what happened to the rest?
The jury has spoken and the verdict is out, Anderson "The Spider" Silva's win was significantly more disappointing than the fall from grace of Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell.
(I would like to dedicate this article to the long, extremely successful career of Chuck Liddell. Unfortunately, he will most likely retire. Although his exciting fights will be sorely missed, the time has come for him to hang up his gloves. I think I speak for all MMA fans when I say we wish him the best of luck. Maybe not in the octagon but I am sure this is not the last time we will see his face; he is a legend after all.)
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