Back in August when the UFC announced that they had officially signed former Pride Champion Wanderlei Silva to a contract, it was only a matter of time until the highly anticipated fight between he and UFC Champion Chuck Liddell would take place. Silva had been dominating his weight class overseas in Japan, while Liddell was doing the same in the States.
This fight had been rumored for years, however, many factors came into play, primarily monetary, making the epic fight nearly impossible. The UFC was, and is, on a fast rise, while Pride FC was struggling to negotiate a new television deal in Japan, at the same time trying to keep their rivals in the west at bay.
Both organizations were insistent upon being able to promote the event on their own platform, under their regulations, and on their home turf. At the same time, there was also a lot of credibility at stake as well. At that point in time, Silva had been one of only two fighters that had beaten the UFC Champion, and the only loss that Liddell had yet to avenge. With the UFC quickly becoming the powerhouse organization of all MMA, the UFC did not want to jeopardize their top fighter losing again to Silva, thus allowing Pride to claim that they had the “best” fighter in the world.
As the months of waiting turned into years, many thought that this fight was never going to happen. Fortunately for MMA fans, they will finally be able to see this fight December 29th at UFC 79. Unfortunately for MMA fans, this fight is three years too late with both coming off of two consecutive losses and neither fighter holding a title belt.
Regardless of what they have already accomplished in their Hall of Fame careers, particularly what has transpired for each fighter in their last two bouts, this fight is assured to be an old fashioned slug out, with a guaranteed highlight reel ending, and a potential classic.
UFC President Dana White feels the same way, “This guy (Silva) is a real fighter,” said White. “He reminds me of Chuck Liddell, and he’s the kind of fighter that all fight fans love to see fight. He’s a gunslinger. He will get in harm’s way to inflict damage and pain. This guy comes out like a speeding train and never stops. He goes for the finish, he likes to knock people out, and I just think he’s going to bring so much excitement to the UFC, I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin.”
Sure, in a perfect world this fight would have taken place in 2005, when both Champions were dominating their respective organizations. This fight could have probably broken all Pay Per View records for any combat sport as well, but it didn’t happen. And as much of an MMA fan as I am, I can completely understand why it didn’t happen. There was just far too much to lose for all parties involved. Well, on the Eve of New Years Eve, it will finally be happening. What better way to ring in the New Year than to finally have this fight come to fruition?
And of course there is no title belt on the line, in fact not even a top contender spot at stake, but this fight is crucial for each fighter’s future. At the age of 38, with three consecutive losses, Liddell can certainly forget about getting another shot at a title before he hangs it up.
Silva certainly knows that Father Time will be knocking on his door shortly, and the only thing that he needs to complete his resume is a UFC title. So winning this match is critical in setting up a future title bout. Although he too is facing three consecutive losses in the face, two of them were overseas which many UFC fans aren’t cognizant of, however, White certainly is.
“This is the fight, right here, that is going to put somebody’s career back on track, and somebody’s getting derailed. Big time. ” White said.
Wandy certainly dropped the gantlet when he initially signed with the UFC, primarily to Liddell, sending out a stern message. “I want to issue a warning to the other fighters out there: you need to train hard, because “The Axe Murderer” is here.”
What more needs to be said?