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Will The Real Anderson Silva Please Stand Up?

The biggest question of UFC 117 this weekend is, ‘which Anderson Silva will turn up?’

Will we see the version which wrecked its way through the middleweight division? Or will we see the version which looked lethargic, disinterested and downright disrespectful in a recent five round title fight against Demian Maia?

For everyone’s sake, including Silva’s, I hope it is the former. Another lackluster performance against Chael Sonnen could lose the pound for pound king all credibility and potentially rob the sport of one of its stars.

Fortunately for everyone concerned Sonnen has been doing his bit to ensure that Silva has plenty of motivation for this fight. He has basically not shut up since Silva’s antics at UFC 112 in April in a concerted campaign to insult, annoy or simply irritate the middleweight champion.

Silva tends to keep his own counsel so it is impossible to gauge how much effect Sonnen’s words have been having on him. He should not need any extra motivation. For reasons best known to himself he decided to make a mockery of the UFC fans and management as well as his opponent at UFC 112. The fact that he chose not to take the fight with Maia seriously casts serious doubt over Silva’s commitment and respect for the sport. The fact that he was able to get away without taking the fight against Maia seriously speaks volumes about how much better he is than anybody else the UFC is putting in front of him at present.

There is no doubt that Silva is a superior fighter to Sonnen. If he can demonstrate this by beating Sonnen emphatically then all will be immediately forgiven. Another disappointing decision win is unlikely to be tolerated, particularly if it is accompanied by the sort of reluctance to engage which undermined his last victory. Under these circumstances you would hope Silva would put on a performance but after his inexplicable antics at UFC 112 anything is possible.

For his part Sonnen will be looking to exact some vengeance on behalf of every fan who felt let down by Silva’s last performance. His best chance of doing so will be to use his outstanding wrestling skills to put Silva on his back but he will have his work cut out to do so and can expect to sustain some sort of punishment for as long as the fight remains standing.

The UFC matchmakers obviously feel Silva can no longer be relied upon to carry a card and, by way of an insurance policy against another embarrassing performance from the Brazilian, they have backed the card with another four major fights.

Thiago Alves came up against Jon Fitch early in his UFC career and did what most fighters do when they face Fitch, he lost. That was in 2006 and Alves went on to win his next seven fights before dropping a decision to Georges St Pierre in a fight for the welterweight title. Fitch was already riding a ten fight win streak when he beat Alves and went on to win another five fights before suffering the same fate as Alves later would in his title fight with St Pierre. He has gone on to win another four fights, all by way of decision, and is widely regarded as the second best welterweight in the world.

This is a massive fight for both men. If Fitch keeps winning than the UFC cannot deny him a title fight for too much longer. For Alves, who has not fought in over a year since the St Pierre loss, a win is crucial to get his UFC career back on track. There was a lot of talk about St Pierre potentially moving up to middleweight. Whether such a move will materialize remains to be seen but these are probably the top two contenders for his crown.

Clay Guida will face off against Rafael Dos Anjos in a lightweight clash. Guida does not have the most distinguished UFC record, currently standing at 6-5, but he has a propensity for getting involved in fight of the nights which makes him extremely handy to have around.

After losing his first two UFC fights Dos Anjos is now on a three fight winning streak and will be looking to take this momentum into the fight with Guida. If Dos Anjos can make it four in a row he will edge a little closer to a lightweight title shot. Guida will be looking to demonstrate that he is a serious contender in the division and that his ability to fight is as good as his ability to get in good fights.

Matt Hughes vs Ricardo Almeida is a facinating match up which will tell us a great deal about the future prospects of either man. Once the welterweight king Hughes is now merely a welterweight attraction, albeit one most fans would still happily pay to see fight.

While Hughes was ruling the welterweight division his opponent Almeida was taking a four year break from the sport. Almeida has gone 4-1 since his return to the UFC and is hoping that a drop to welterweight will help propel him towards a title shot.

Almeida’s strength is his grappling but Hughes is no stranger to facing BJJ black belts. Hughes will probably feel he has the advantage standing up while Almeida will be looking to take the fight to the floor.

While Hughes’s days in the octagon are almost certainly numbered he is still a tough test for anyone in the division, with the possible exception of St Pierre. After a couple of decision wins it was good to see Almeida using his submission skills against Matt Brown recently. He will be looking to send a statement of intent by following in the footsteps of Dennis Hallman, B.J. Penn and St Pierre and becoming only the fourth man to ever submit Hughes.

In what is surprisingly scheduled to be the first pay per view fight of the night Roy Nelson will face Junior Dos Santos in a heavyweight title eliminator. The winner of this fight will face the winner of the fight between heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and unbeaten contender Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 .

Nelson might have won The Ultimate Fighter 10 but he didn’t really impress too many people in the process. Eyes were raised at the emphatic manner in which he dispatched of Brendan Schaub in the final and he followed that up with another quick fire victory over Stefan Struve.

Nelson’s unprepossessing physical appearance and the fact that he came into TUF 10 on the back of losses to UFC rejects Andrei Arlovski and Jeff Monson make him a difficult fighter to promote. With two consecutive knock out of the night performances under his belt Nelson will feel he has a point to prove against Dos Santos. If he can get past the big Brazilian the UFC will have no option but to move Nelson up to the head of the card next time out.

It will be no easy task. Dos Santos has a very respectable record of 11-1 and none of his fights have ever gone the distance. He is unbeaten inside the octagon with his punching power making the difference in all of his UFC wins. While it would be refreshing to see Nelson continue to defy both stereotypes and expectations by winning this fight Dos Santos probably has the better chance of the two of actually making a credible challenge for the heavyweight title.

Prior to Silva’s performance against Maia the UFC probably regarded their middleweight champion as a big enough attraction to carry a card on his own. Now they feel the need to pack a card headlined by Silva just to be on the safe side which is why UFC 117 has not one, but five very interesting fights.

15 COMMENTS
  • twyg says:

    I see Sonnen trying to close the gap to shoot, and he is going to get caught. We have all seen what happens to fighters that try to be the aggresor(?) against Silva. I got fitch by desision (is there any other way?). Hughes in the third by GnP. Got to go with Guida as I think his pace will be to much. Disclaimer we have mutual friends. My heart is with Nelson but my money would be on JDS. On paper this looks to be one of the best cards of the year, but 116 over preformed and its going to be tough to beat that show.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  • MCM says:

    “Prior to Silva’s performance against Maia the UFC probably regarded their middleweight champion as a big enough attraction to carry a card on his own. Now they feel the need to pack a card headlined by Silva just to be on the safe side…”

    How do I the author a thumbs up for this.

    I don’t think Sonnen will allow this to become a boring fight but if it does and Anderson wins, I think Dana should put him on the undercard of the next Fight Night as punishment. That’s if he doesn’t fire him [eye roll]

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  • Rece Rock says:

    I think Anderson kicks the shit out of sonnen. I’m sure regardless of what he says he’s gotta be pissed at chael.

    P.S.
    Can you believe that shit Sonnen said about Lance Armstrong giving himself Cancer from cheating with roids and other crap… who the fuck talks about ppl who got cancer?? Right or Wrong?? Chael is an unbeliveable prick and not only do I hope Anderson kicks his ass but I hope Chael falls off the face of the earth cause he’s the last guy I want reppin’ mma.
    The guy is a wanna be politician and a jerk off.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10

  • MickeyC says:

    I would live to see Chael win just to shake up the divison, but I do not see it happening. Anderson should be able to win. My underdog pick for this PPV has to be Nelson. A victory here would really impact the heavey weight divison

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  • Angry Mike says:

    Sonnen’s comments may inspire Silva, but the most inspirational speech is coming from Dana White. You have to believe he was blunt as hell with Silva about his last fight with Maia and what’s coming to him if he doesn’t behave himself in this one.

    I don’t much care for Alves. His history of showing up overweight and using diuretics to cut is cheating, and cheaters suck. I hope Fitch grinds him into a bloody pulp.

    And as far as Junior dos Santos and Roy Nelson go, all I can say is “Roll on, fat man!” I think he probably gets ktfo’d, though.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  • Guthookd says:

    Well, I’m rootig for Chael. Period. He’s not the striker that A.S. is to be sure, but he is one of the best wrestlers in MMA. I personally believe he is better than Dan Henderson and I think he’d going to have more success than Dan did against A. Silva. A win? Probably not. But I think he’ll get his few minutes of shine.

    Really looking forward to JDS vs. Big. That is going to be a good slug fest. I think JDS has the speed advantage though, and I think that coupled with his awesome foot work will get him the KO against Big.

    Hughes/Almeida, as the author said, is a facinating matchup. Made even more exciting because of the ass kicking Hughes dished out Renzo last time out, who I believe trained Almeida. Kinda of a student avenges the teacher type deal.

    Always fun to watch Energizer Guida fight too, relevant in rankings or not.

    Fitch…..well…..if I pay for the PPV I’ll watch the fight, but it’s going to be on Alves to keep it entertaining.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  • manny says:

    The rela question is when is the UFC going to put a WORTHY opponent to face A. Silva? Then you will get your answer.

    IMO I really think GSP vs A. Silva needs to happen in order to safe the MW & WW classes in the UFC. DW just announced the winner of Fitch n Alves will get the next title shot against the winner of Kos & GSP. (what if…. Fitch wins & Kos wins, will they fight for the belt?) Fighting an opponent you already def once is not as interesting. So the UFC needs to make this fight happen b/c i would hate to see GSP vs Fitch II, GSP vs Alvez II and so on as well as A. Silva defending against fighters he already beat.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  • Lord Faust says:

    The worst thing that could happen to Sonnen is Silva pulls some nonsense like Filho did, and show up with zero interest in even being in the cage. A meaningless win, IMO, is worse than a valiant loss.

    I’d like to see Sonnen win for no other reason than to inject some life into the Middleweight division. As it stands, it’s pretty barren; a champ who won’t perform, and a bunch of guys who no one thinks even has a chance against the champ. At least if Sonnen dethrones the champ, the division gets interesting, both from the perspective of seeing how Silva rebounds, but also in the sense that it turns a lot of guys into potential title challengers again, instead of presumed future victims of The Spider.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  • bigbadjohn says:

    What a crock. We’ve been watching the ‘real’ Anderson for years here. The ‘real’ Anderson doesn’t care to make the fight exciting for the fans, in fact the fans probably rarely cross his mind. He wants to step in the cage and watch the fight come to him, counter and walk out unharmed. This drives people crazy (myself inckuded). Thankfully hes up against Chael, who will push him constantly and in turn cause Silva to perform.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  • bigbadjohn says:

    I’m basically saying: where ever your loyalty lies everyone will be thankful for Chael Sonnen on Saturday night. Win Lose or Draw

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  • infamousmma says:

    i have said it in the past i would love to see GSP fight Anderson Silva i like Anderson i think he is great i cant stand GSP i think his fights are boring not entertainig my opinion but i have also said he wont take the fight he has already tried backing out and i think if the fight does happen this matchup on sat aug 7 (IF IF IF chael can get silva down and beat silva up on the ground for atleast 1 min or more) GSP might actually have a chance and i think thats why Dana and Joe did this fight cuz he is almost forced to schedule the superfight he doesnt want to see (dana) and to think about it how many superfights have we seen not to live up to expectation (GSP vs BJ 2) and a few more have been there but my picks are silva via ko end rd 1 or mid 2nd, alves (t)ko rnd 3, hughes sub rnd 3 and kos wont underestimate GSP this time and kos takes a decison haha

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  • Rece Rock says:

    Don’t know if anybody caught the espn interview with silva…Should check it out.
    Sticking to my guns here… Silva by devastating fashion. Chael better give props when it’s all said and done but I doubt it cause he’s a dick

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  • Swing Em says:

    Anderson Silva by KO RD1

    Jon Fitch by UD

    Junior Dos Santos by KO RD2

    Ricardo Almedia by SUB RD1

    Clay Guida by UD

    I just feel the need to point out something that I haven’t heard too many people bring up, Damian Maia submitted Chael Sonnen in 1 round when they fought. I really doubt that someone that can’t hang 1 round with Damian Maia is going to be able to beat Anderson Silva.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  • Rece Rock says:

    It’s understandable that Everybody just wants to rally around chael in the hopes he will beat silva cause there just tired of Anderson,but you gotta be kiddin if you really think sonnen is going to beat Anderson… There’s a difference btn wishful thinking and the truth…like Anderson said it’s his time.
    All chael did was talk himself into an embarrasing beating…I’m sure even chael knows he’s not the answer to silva and his domination of the weight
    class. Nobody cared to see Anderson in another main event blow out so the powers that be put a loud mouth in there to draw interest into the hype and make fans forget that this guy is not threat to silva…

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  • “Or will we see the version which looked lethargic, disinterested and downright disrespectful in a recent five round title fight against Demian Maia?”

    lethargic? Oh yeah those leg kicks that hurt maia every time, those punches that broke maia’s nose and eye socket and that flying knee that almost put Maia unconsious. Not to mention the awesome dance moves. How the hell do you get lethagic from that?

    disrepectful? Oh yeah because it shows alot of respect to stand out of your opponents reach, talk shit and throw what 3 right hands in the last three rounds? Yeah Maia was really respectful in giving up by the end of the second round and doing nothing while hoping Silva made a mistake.

    Disinterested: The only one of these words that was actually true in this article. Anderson doesn’t seem to be interested in beating up fighters that ARE NOT on the level he is and therefore the fight is no longer a competition but a slaughter.
    I remember reading all sorts of posts after Cyborg destroyed Jan Finney that the match should’ve never been sanctioned by the athletic commission. If we’re using that logic, I personally believe that Maia and Leites were less qualified to fight A Silva than Cuddles was to fight Cyborg.
    Maybe instead of making A Silva fight people who have been defeated long before they get in the ring, Dana White should put someone in there who actually wants to TAKE Anderson’s belt, not just claim they’ve made it longer than most in the ring with the p4p best.

    That being said at least Chael will make Anderson fight and probably get KTFO’d within the first round for his troubles.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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