There were some nice fights on the UFC 97 card but overall it was a garbage show. I say that for two reasons. First, because we saw the official end of Chuck Liddell. Second, the main event sucked. There's no other way to say it.
The blame here doesn't fall on Anderson Silva, though. I think it falls on Thales Leites and on the UFC for matching Silva up with Leites. Silva's talking about potentially retiring when his contract is up and the UFC owes the fans some decent fights. James Irvin, Patrick Cote and Thales Leites? Weak. I'd rather see Silva-Rich Franklin III than any of those bouts.
Leites was very tentative against Silva and it was clear that he only had one way to win that fight -- on the ground. Silva knew that and didn't want to fight on the ground. Leites knew it and simply refused to do anything but lay around. It was woeful at some points in the fight, as Silva tried to press the action at times but Leites was simply not game.
The problem, from my standpoint, was that it seemed like Leites was simply outmanned. He did not belong in the Octagon with Silva. He wasn't ready to take on a fighter like Silva and he didn't have the skill set to hang with him. Leites looked like he didn't even want to fight. It was somewhat surprising that Leites didn't change things up once he saw he wasn't getting Silva down enough but he was spent after three rounds, whereas Silva looked to be in much better shape.
Silva is in a tough position because there is very little left for him at middleweight. Demian Maia would be interesting, Yushin Okami makes sense because of their prior matchup but he won't sell tickets and it wouldn't be too intriguing of a fight. A bout with Wanderlei Silva would be interesting , but I could care less about seeing Silva take on Michael Bisping or any of the current contenders he's already taken down.
A superfight with Georges St. Pierre seems to be on the horizon and that is the caliber of fight Anderson Silva belongs in. Not with the Thales Leites of the world. Still, I'm surprised Silva didn't try to push things a little bit more, especially coming off a lackluster performance against Patrick Cote.
Also, it's sad to see the end of the line for Chuck Liddell but we're there. He most likely will never again be a relevant part of the light heavyweight title scene. Mauricio Rua didn't look that great in the first part of the fight but Liddell isn't the same fighter he used to be. He's done a lot for the sport and it would've been interesting to see him fight his way back to a title shot, but losing four of his last five, with his chin being exposed in the last two, has left him out of the picture.
He won't hang them up, but his fights just got a lot less important. He's a legend and still arguably the UFC's biggest star, so I'm sure that's one result the UFC wasn't happy with.
Other quick thoughts: Cheick Kongo put together another solid performance and Luiz Cane and Steve Cantwell had the best fight of the night. Unfortunately, it was the first fight of the show.
Anyone else buy UFC 97? Do you feel like I do, that it was a little sort of a letdown?