UFC 97 Preview: Thales Leites Vs. Anderson Silva

Garrett GonzalesCorrespondent IApril 17, 2009

Before every big UFC card, my FightGameBlog crew makes predictions on the main fights.

UFC 97 looks like a two fight show. The card leaves a lot to be desired. Other than the middleweight championship fight between Anderson Silva and Thales Leites, the rest of the main card is either heavyweights or light heavyweights.

That can be good and bad, but it probably means that we won’t see any quick hitting and fast fights, unless one of the undercard fights make it on the main show. But even on the undercard, most of the fights are middleweight or higher.

You can see the entire card at Wikipedia’s UFC 97 page.

Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

Big D: Liddell by second round TKO
Alan: Liddell by second round KO
Duan: Liddell by decision
Stevie J: Liddell by second round TKO
Cactus Jim: Liddell by second round KO
GG: Liddell by decision

Big D says

This is the most interesting fight on the card. It’s essentially “Loser Leaves Town”, especially if it ends early and violently. If either one of these guys gets knocked out, it’s safe to say they aren’t coming back.

I’m a bit torn here. I’m sick of betting on Chuck and having him disappoint me. I’m not as big a Chuck fan as GG, but it still bothers me to see him get beaten repeatedly. At the same time, Shogun Rua embarrassed himself in January against a man twice his age.

We went into a bit more detail on FGB Radio so check that out too!

I want Chuck to win and hope it happens, but it may not. Still, I’m gonna bet on him ONE LAST TIME.

Duan says

I have said it before so I’m not going to dwell on it here, but I don’t believe Chuck Liddell should be fighting anymore. The signs are there that he should be calling it a day. Let’s consider the last time Chuck landed that big one punch knockout.

It was six fights and almost three years ago against Renato Sobral. That is a huge concern for a guy who really doesn’t have a Plan B.

On the other hand we have Shogun Rua, who has been a colossal disappointment in his UFC tenure so far. His cardio has been abysmal, there’s no snap in his punches, and physically he looks weak. There isn’t really any reason for him to be a shot fighter.

He is still young, and he hasn’t ever taken a huge amount of punishment. That begs the question; can he just not perform under UFC regulations?

Given both guys recent performance, I don’t believe a win here should be enough to put either back in the title picture. But my gut feeling is that Liddell will take this. I think that even a faded Iceman will have enough to see off the UFC version of Shogun Rua.

GG says

I’m probably not the right guy to be unbiased here since Chuck Liddell is my favorite fighter of all time.

However, I still think he has the best chance to win. I don’t think it’s going to be a violent knockout loss for either guy and I don’t expect it to be a necessarily exciting fight. I think Chuck keeps his distance and boxes his way to a decision win.

Thales Leites vs. Anderson Silva

Big D: Silva by second round TKO
Alan: Silva by second round TKO
Duan: Silva by first round TKO
Stevie J: Silva by second round decision
Cactus Jim: Silva by first round TKO
GG: Silva by second round TKO

Alan says

Man, Leites came across as the nicest guy on the Countdown. It’s got me rooting for him. If he gets Silva down, anything’s possible. He just has to avoid the most lethal striking in MMA first. I REALLY want to stick my neck out and say Leites will pull it off, but I just can’t pick against Silva until he loses a fight.

Cactus Jim says

I think Silva dictates that this fight stays on the feet where he has a decided advantage and that he out strikes Leites ending the fight in round one. I would really like to see this fight go to the ground though.

I think it would be a more level playing field and that Leites would have a better chance at picking up a win. Leites has looked good in his last couple fights, but not good enough to beat Silva in my opinion.

This is a bit scary. We all have Liddell and Silva winning, which means if they don’t, we could have a curse of FGB.

We’ll be back on fight day Saturday with a live play by play of UFC 97 on FightGameBlog.


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