UFC 97: Redemption, a preview


This Saturday night, the UFC debuts their 97th pay-per-view fight event with Redemption, live from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Featured on the dynamic, exciting card are some of the top fighters of the organization including Anderson Silva and future hall-of-famer Chuck Liddell.

Silva, widely considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound mixed martial arts fighter in the world, will defend his middleweight championship against fellow Brazilian and 185 lb challenger Thales Leites. Meanwhile in the co-main event of the evening Liddell looks to rebound and subsequently redeem himself (hence the title of the show) when he faces off against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a 205 lb bout that has divisional ramifications.

Perhaps the best part of the card is the overall strength of the undercard bouts featuring talented fighters like Cheick Kongo, Luis Cane, Antoni Hardonk, Denis Kang, Jason MacDonald, Nate Quarry, David Louiseau, Ed Herman and Steve Cantwell all in action.

But while that’s a quick synopsis of the event on Saturday, I’ll give you a more in depth preview of some of the main card fights that I’m really excited about. Let’s get to it.

Cheick Kongo vs. Antoni Hardonk — heavyweight

Along with a couple other fights that I’ll talk about later, has the potential to be the fight of the night. Two extremely BIG boys who are going to stand and bang with each other. This fight will quickly turn into a K-1 kickboxing match with Kongo getting the better of it with his reach advantage and greater athleticism. Look for the frenchman to punish Hardonk by the end of the first round and by mid second round have Hardonk visibly tired and worn down before finishing him off with some vicious ground n’ pound.

Kongo by 2nd rd TKO

Steve Cantwell vs. Luis Cane — 205 lbs

This match-up also has potential to be the fight of the night. Both fighters will bring their all and not only dish out a lot of punishment but take their fair share as well. Cane to me, has the more dynamic striking arsenal and certainly can roll with the best on the ground. Ever since Cane opened up my eyes to his game back at UFC 93 in January when he fought Sokoudjou I’ve thought that he was one of the top five or six talents in the talent rich light heavyweight division.

Cane by 2nd rd KO

Chuck Liddell vs. Shogun Rua — 205 lbs

Another fight of the night candidate and perhaps the betting favorite on that topic. Both fighters give the “Redemption” event moniker a reason for being used. Liddell has lost three of his last four fights with two — including his most recent — coming by brutal knockouts. UFC president Dana White has gone on record saying that Liddell needs not only to win but win impressively for him to let Liddell continue fighting.

Then there’s Shogun who is 1-1 in his two career UFC fights with his most recent fight and only victory coming in unspectacular fashion when he finished Mark Coleman via TKO late in the third round at UFC 93. Shogun was visibly out of condition in that fight and really took a lot of heat for it afterwards. Now, a lot of it can be explained away by the fact that he did endure two separate knee surgeries over the course of a nine month stretch which really did not enable him to train as he would have liked. However a lot of fans and analysts alike are going to be watching this fight closely to see whether those excuses are legit and whether Shogun regains his pre-UFC form.

I think he does. Shogun will show just why he was widely considered the top 205 lb prospect out there when he signed on with the UFC when he picks apart Liddell in the stand up game. His striking is just so dynamic which really makes him a lot like “The Spider” in that he’s just so hard to stop.

Shogun by 3rd rd TKO

Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites — Middleweight Championship

The main event and the fight I am most looking forward to. Anderson Silva is looking for a chance to redeem himself after a performance against Patrick Cote back in October that nobody — neither he or his fans — were too pleased about. Thus “the Spider” will be on a mission when he enters the cage to prove all the naysayers wrong and get that bad taste out of his mouth so to speak.

Let’s not forget the opponent, though. Thales Leites is no joke. He has world class jui-jitsu, better even than Silva’s who has a black belt from the Noguiera’s. He also has an adept striking game with power in both hands and a solid chin that has enabled him to never be KO’d in a fight yet and he’s fought the likes of Nate Marquardt and Drew McFedries among others. Leites will be fine fighting wherever this fight goes but if it remains a primarily upright fight, look for Silva to impose his will.

That being said, Anderson Silva is a completely different animal than any guy that Leites has fought so far and completely different than anybody anyone else has fought at 185. He’s incredibly dynamic and elusive but not only that, he’s insanely precise with his strikes. Against Chris Leben, Silva threw a total of 14 strikes and landed every single one of them flush where he wanted to and put Leben away in less than a minute. He’s that dangerous. Seeking his ninth win in a row and fifth consecutive title defense (both UFC records), Silva will reach new heights with Saturday’s performance.

Silva by 2nd rd KO


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