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UFC 79: Liddell vs. Silva an instant classic

It was a fight billed as six years in the making but the wait for it felt like a lifetime. After being teased with the prospect of a dream match between Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell so many times only to see it unravel at the seams, I, like many others, began to wonder if it would ever really happened.

And once it was finally signed and sealed, I began to have questions about the delivery. Could a fight that had been built up so big in the minds of diehard fans come anywhere close to matching the hype?

Well, last night in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay the MMA world received its answer and unless you have terrible taste in fights, the answer was a resounding yes.

I made a promise to myself a long time ago that if Liddell vs. Silva ever happened that I would do whatever it took to make sure I was there to see it in person. I had been a fan of both fighters for years. In the States, Liddell was considered the be all end all when it came to light heavyweights. But to more worldly MMA fans, Silva was Liddell’s equal and in the minds of some, his superior.

I never got caught up in the petty PRIDE vs. UFC nonsense. Over the last year I’ve been accused of being a PRIDE “nut hugger” by some while also biased towards the UFC by others. I think I’ve been subjected to that contradiction of opinion because even though I’ve followed the sport a long time, I’ve only covered it as a journalist for slightly over a year. People are new to my writing and my opinions so they read one thing and they make a grand assumption.

I never bothered weighed-in on the PRIDE vs. UFC debate because as a fight fan, I enjoyed both. To me, they were equal yet very different. And I enjoyed the differences. I saw no need to pick a side. I’m a fight fan and I’ll support good fights regardless of what initials are associated with it.

The PRIDE vs. UFC debate extended to a debate as to whether Liddell or Silva was the more dominant fighter at 205 pounds. I never got caught up in that debate either because I enjoyed both fighters. I also didn’t understand why fans were left to make a judgment. This is a sport, let the fighters compete against each other and let’s see who really is the best.