It seemed like this day would never come: two Sherdoggers debating one of the most anticipated showdowns MMA could ever offer.
Chuck Liddell (Pictures) and Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) will finally lock horns Saturday inside the Mandalay Bay in what should an explosive war. Sherdog.com's Mike Sloan and Steven Curtis lay down the letters in a war of words to see who will triumph in this edition of the Great Sherdog Debate.
Mike Sloan:You're back again? I thought I sent you into permanent hiding after I humiliated you in front of millions of loyal readers! But since you are back in my face, I must admit that I admire your courage, considering that you're going to wind up like radio "co-host" TJ De Santis with a goose egg still in your win column.
Both Liddell and Silva have dropped two in a row, but when looking at this fight a little closer, it would appear that Silva has the overall advantage. Stylistically speaking, he has more of an edge in quite a few categories. He's younger, has faster hands and has more power in both of his hands (Chuck is typically a right hand puncher). Silva also has a much better ground game, delivers better knees and tends to have better cardio.
Also, it can be argued that although Silva has fought a ton of tomato cans, he's actually competed against much better overall competition than Liddell. All signs point to a Silva victory, especially considering that Liddell is not getting any younger.
But Liddell will win, and he'll do it in the first round via knockout. It won't be a doctor or referee stoppage. It'll be a good old-fashioned one-punch knockout, and Liddell will do it with the fist that Wanderlei has trained his ass off to avoid -- the right.
Going into this fight, I don't care that Silva has all of these so-called advantages. His power and intangibles outweigh everything you can throw back at me.
Chuck has only two great fights left in him, and he's going to exit stage left. He has dropped two in a row and simply can't afford to lose another, especially to a fighter from Pride.
Also, though Chuck throws a wild loopy right hand, he actually tends to throw shorter, somewhat straighter punches than Wanderlei. "The Axe Murderer" almost never tosses a straight punch as he usually flails wildly with telegraphed bombs from left and right. Moreover, Wanderlei is sometimes too aggressive for his own good and is often too careless with his strikes.
Careless aggression is what Chuck has feasted upon throughout his career. The best way to solve the Liddell puzzle is to make him come at you and give him angles -- something Wanderlei simply is incapable of doing.
Going back to the subject of angular punching, Chuck's awkward left hand comes down from behind his shoulder but is actually a short, compact strike that acts like a straight jab (think geometry, and you'll get the picture).
Another plus is Chuck's chin. It's sturdier than Silva's, as "The Iceman" has only been iced once. Wanderlei has been flattened thrice, with two of the knockouts coming in brutal fashion in his most recent fights.
And finally, to end this debate before you actually begin, Silva is a Pride fighter -- a former champion from that organization. Aside from Anderson Silva and Rampage, no former Pride superstar has faired well at all in the UFC.
Seriously, Steven, I love ya and all, but it's not even worth jumping into this ring. Your boy from Brazil is going out at the 1:48 mark of the opening round.
Steven Curtis Mike, I want to thank you for the rematch. It was very cool of you. But he who exults himself shall be humbled, my friend.
I'm going to knock you right off your championship perch in time to ring in the New Year. I'm bringing the belt to the East Coast and I'll be partying in Times Square. Dick Clark, take your medication!
I'll tell you why you're wrong about the main event, Mike. How's this fight going to play out? Well, it's safe to say that neither guy is looking to take it to the ground. And Wandy will be bringing more standup weapons and better Muay Thai than your boy Chuck has seen in a long time, if ever.
Chuck's counterpunching attack won't faze Silva. Wanderlei's a tough guy to hit, and his recent KO losses have come against guys who wore him down with a varied attack before capitalizing on a mistake.
While he is less experienced in the cage, the Octagon is actually better suited to Silva's style. If he can close the distance with Chuck and press him up against the cage, the knees will be flying. If they stand toe-to-toe in the center of the Octagon, Silva will also have the advantage because of better defense and power with both hands. Checking those leg kicks won't be easy for "The Iceman" either.
And one other thing ... Silva is seven years younger. Wandy by second-round KO.
The rest of the card:
Matt Hughes (Pictures) vs. Georges St. Pierre (Pictures)
Sloan: St. Pierre pretty much has dominated Hughes for every minute of their battles. Heck, the only time Hughes has ever truly had the upper hand was the last few seconds of their first fight, when he subbed GSP. Other than that, this "rivalry" has been all "Rush." Why would I think any differently in their rubber match? St. Pierre will pummel the former MMA deity and stop him late in the third via strikes.
Curtis: Well, so much for 2008 being the year Matt Hughes (Pictures) wins the title back! Matt may be physically stronger, but GSP is just too much for him to handle -- better standup, better ground, better submissions, better athlete, you name it. But I don't think Matt will get caught a second time. GSP by decision.
Lyoto Machida (Pictures) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (Pictures)
Sloan: It's tough to say that Sokoudjou has had fluke wins considering who he's trumped. Still, I'm not totally sold on the Team Quest fighter. The same can be easily said about Machida, though his overall experience dwarfs that of Sokoudjou. My pick is Sokoudjou via second-round knockout, and karate will return to the ventilator.
Curtis: I'm pumped Sokoudjou is making his UFC debut. As usual he looks to be in tremendous shape and is ready to put on a show. This guy has been running through top fighters a la George Foreman in the mid-70s, and Machida will be the latest victim via second-round knockout. Believe the hype!
Rich Clementi (Pictures) vs. Melvin Guillard (Pictures)
Sloan: I see Guillard storming out of the gates and swarming Clementi. I also see Clementi being dropped and lying flat on his back midway through the first round, losing by KO for the first time in his career. Guillard will also stay away from the nose candy and pass the post-fight urinalysis.
Curtis: We'll call this one the "battle of the guys who have been given way too many second chances." Clementi gets the edge in my book because he brings more to the table than Melvin -- the Gary Goodridge (Pictures) of the 155 class. Clementi via second-round submission.
Soa Palelei (Pictures) vs. Eddie Sanchez
Sloan: Palelei can punch. Sadly, Sanchez is best known as being the last guy the "good" Cro Cop stopped. Should be interesting, but Sanchez will wind up scoring a hard-fought decision over the UFC newcomer.
Curtis: I'm with you on this one, Sloan. Soa cannot only deliver a punch, he can take one too. Sanchez bounced back nicely after the Mirko loss, and I'm betting he continues the win streak via decision.
Luis Cane vs. James Irvin (Pictures)
Sloan: Irvin has always been the guy most overlooked even though he's arguably among the top three most exciting fighters in the history of MMA. This is Cane's biggest test and this one should be the fight of the night. The fight ends in the first, but it'll be a mini Hagler-Hearns type of war. Good job Joe Silva and good job Irvin for making me look like a genius! Irvin via KO.
Curtis: I agree that it will be a great fight, but I don't think the undefeated Cane is going to fall so easily. In fact I think he'll give Irvin everything he can handle and lose a close decision.
Manvel Gamburyan (Pictures) vs. Nate Mohr (Pictures)
Sloan: Mohr got jobbed when ESPN fired him and took away his talk show. Too bad because it was funny. Oh, wait. That was Jay Mohr. Oh. Well, Nate Mohr (Pictures) bounced back from a loss, but he's fighting the ultra-tough Gamburyan, who will submit him via kimura in the second.
Curtis: Manny is a man on a mission. He'll have Nate saying "No Mohr" after submitting him in round one.
Dean Lister (Pictures) vs. Jordan Radev (Pictures)
Sloan: Lister has always been one of my favorite MMA submission artists to watch, and he'll do me proud by locking up Radev in a slick armbar. The mysterious pentagram choke will remain unseen.
Curtis: Never mind the pentagram choke, Mike. What about the claw? Mr. Radev is in for a very short night. I'm thinking, oh, about four minutes before Mr. Lister submits him in round one.
Douglas Evans (Pictures) vs. Mark Bocek (Pictures)
Sloan: Both cats are coming off of losses, both within the UFC. This should be a decent scrap between two relative newcomers to the sport, but Evans will prevail via unanimous decision.
Curtis: This one is a toss-up in my book. In the interest of mixing things up and making Mr. Sloan look bad, I'm backing Bocek via decision.
Tony DeSouza (Pictures) vs. Roan Carneiro (Pictures)
Sloan: If DeSouza could only grapple and not have to strike, he'd probably be a title challenger by now. Good thing for the Peruvian that his opponent is a Brazilian, which usually means he's a jiu-jitsu practitioner. This one will be a classic if you like that sort of stuff. Carneiro will get caught in the famous gogoplata … maybe.
Curtis: Classic? Dunno about that one, Mike. Guessing this one will be about as exciting as Brandon Lee Hinkle-Sean Gannon. Anyway, Brazilian or no, Carneiro has shown that he's vulnerable to submissions, and that's just what Tony D will exploit. DeSouza by rear-naked choke in the second.
GSD Career Totals:
Gross (ret): 0-1
De Santis: 0-2