UFC 97 was kind of a sad affair for die hard MMA fans. The card likely ended the Chuck Liddell era in MMA. Liddell was knocked out yet again, his 3rd KO loss, 4th overall in his past 5 fights. Dana White has been adament that if the Iceman didn't win and have a good performance that he would no longer be a fighter in the UFC. Liddell has had a masterful career, building the UFC while winning the LHW belt and defending 4 times. He is a sure fire UFC Hall of Famer.
Also, for the second straight time, Anderson Silva put on a lackluster performance. Thales Leites didn't want to engage the entire fight, and began flopping in the third round. However, Silva still seemed to have some advantages that he just didn't take advantage of.
Anderson Silva def Thales Leites via unanimous dec- Silva looked tenative the entire fight. He brutalized Leites lead leg the entire fight with inside and outside leg kicks, front kicks to the knee, and near the end punches to the knee. Silva also landed a couple body kicks and came close on a high kick. Problem was, there was so much feeling out time that the crowd got angry.
Leites best offense came with a takedown. But, while there he was blasted with Silva elbows and the fight eventually was stood back up. The fight was the first to go to decision for Silva since 2004 and the first to go past 15 minutes. Silva could face Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt or Demian Maia next.
Sam Stout def Matt Wiman via unanimous dec- Stout and Wiman had a solid fight lasting the full frame. Wiman scored more on takedowns, while Stout got the better of the action standing. Wiman came close in the third by taking Stout's back and nearly getting the rear naked choke. However, Stout did too much in the first two rounds to win the fight 29-28.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua def Chuck Liddell via TKO (strikes) R1, 4:28- Both fighters briefly exchanged punches before Rua got a takedown. Like an expert, Liddell quickly got back to his feet. Unfortunately for Liddell, while throwing a punch, Rua countered with a left that sent him to the canvas. A couple more Rua hammerfists and the bout was called. With the win, Rua inches closer to a potential title shot. Liddell is likely retired.
Krzysztof Soszynski def Brian Stann via submission (kimura) R1, 3:53- For the second straight fight, Sosynski has utilized a kimura to win his bout. After trading leg kicks, both fighters clinched against the fence with some dirty boxing. After being seperated, Sosynski was successful in a takedown, landing in half guard. From there he worked the kimura to perfection.
Cheick Kongo def Antoni Hardonk via TKO (strikes) R2, 2:29- Kongo looked very impressive in his third straight win in the UFC. The first round saw Kongo get the better of Hardonk in the stand-up game, landing body and leg kicks. Kongo also managed a takedowns and good hammer-fists and ground and pound. The second was more of the same as Kongo overwhelmed Hardonk, landing a kick and punch that send Hardonk to the canvas, and ground and pound eventually ends the fight.
Luiz Cane def Steve Cantwell via unanimous dec- Cane landed the more consistent strikes to win the decision. Cantwell had a couple good looking head kicks, but they were blocked for the most part.
PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS
Denis Kang def Xavier Foupa-Pokam via unanimous dec
Nate Quarry def Jason MacDonald via TKO (strikes) R1, 2:27
Ed Herman def David Loiseau via unanimous dec
Mark Bocek def David Bielkheden via sub (rear-naked choke) R1, 4:57
T.J. Grant def Ryo Chonan via split dec
Eliot Marshall def Vinicius Magalhaes via unanimous dec
(Cheick Kongo Pictured)