Top MMA News’ UFC 97 Breakdown
The UFC comes back to Canada this Saturday, April 18 with another stacked show. UFC 97 features the first UFC title match since UFC 94 as Thales Leites challenges Anderson Silva for the Middleweight crown.
Also on the card are two stars who are currently on the downslopes of their careers as Chuck Liddell will face Shogun Rua. Both will be trying to right their sinking ships with a victory in Montreal.
Anderson Silva vs Thales Leites
Anderson Silva has the advantage over Thales Leites in every part of this bout. While a solid grappler with great submissions like Leites is supposedly Silva’s Achilles Heel, we have already seen The Spider defeat much better grapplers in Nate Marquardt and Dan Henderson. That said, Silva is coming off a strange victory over Patrick Cote where few punches were thrown before Cote’s knee injury stopped the bout. Where is Silva’s head? Is he still thinking of bigger payday matches at Light-Heavyweight or boxing Roy Jones Jr. or possibly a superfight versus GSP? If Silva’s head is not in the game, then Leites will have a chance to surprise him, take him down and submit the Spider. Do not bet on that happening. Expect Silva do dominate once again to show everyone that the Cote bout was merely a blip in his UFC career.
- Top MMA News’ Pick: Silva KO Round 1
- SportsInteraction Anderson Silva -714, Thales Leites +400
Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio Rua
This was a dream match a couple years ago. Liddell was wearing UFC gold while Shogun was the proclaimed Number One Light-Heavyweight in the world by many MMA sites. Times have changed. Liddell has lost three of his last four, while Shogun lost to Forrest Griffin and looked out of shape in his win against Mark Coleman. Liddell really matches up well here. While some are writing off the Iceman, Top MMA News feels that he has a lot of game left – including a fantastic sprawl that will make it impossible for the easily fatigued Shogun to take him down. This fight will stay on the feet and Liddell will dominate. Look for Liddell to show some patience and tire Rua out in the first and KO him in the second. Although, Liddell is the favorite, you may want to lay some money down on him as he will win this 90% of the time (in their current shape).
- Top MMA News’ Pick: Liddell KO Round 1
- SportsInteraction Liddell -189, Rua +137
Cheick Kongo vs. Antoni Hardonk
Kongo has been on the verge of a UFC Heavyweight title shot, while Hardonk has been a UFC gatekeeper to the Heavyweight division. Kongo has been training hard at Wolf’s Lair with Rampage Jackson and is much more well-rounded than the Dutchman Hardonk. For his part, Hardonk is on a three fight winning streak in the UFC stopping all three with his strikes. Kongo is an accurate striker who will hold his own standing with Hardonk. Kongo will also dominate the kickboxer Hardonk if he decides to take it to the ground. Kongo wins the first round and TKOs a fatigued Hardonk in the second.
- Top MMA News’ Pick: Kongo by TKO Round 2
- SportsInteraction Kongo -303, Hardonk +200
Steve Cantwell vs Luis Cane
Top MMA News still feels that the WEC had minor league weight divisions when compared to the UFC’s divisions. Cantwell was the WEC Light-Heavyweight champion but that means nothing now that he is facing the big boys. Cane is a battle tested brawler who has only lost once and that was by Disqualification. Look for this one to be a standup battle with Cane dominating. Cantwell will look very inexperienced against the tougher Cane in this bout. Cane wins handily.
- Top MMA News’ Pick: Cane by TKO Round 1
- SportsInteraction Kongo -303, Hardonk +200
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Brian Stann
Interesting sidenote to this fight is that Stann and Soszynski trained together at Team Quest in the past and know each other very well. Brian Stann, who now trains with Greg Jackson, comes to the UFC via the defunct 205 WEC division. Stann won the WEC 205 title when he defeated Doug Marshall, then promptly lost it to Steve Cantwell before the division was folded. Soszynski came to the UFC via the TUF route, when he joined the TUF 8 cast. On TUF, Krzysztof was on coarse to meet eventual TUF 8 winner Ryan Bader, but was submitted by his then Team Quest teammate BJJ Black belt Vinicius Magalhaes in the semis. He was able to win his first official UFC bout when he defeated Shane Primm by armbar at the TUF 8 Finale. This fight is interesting as both fighters are looking to break into the UFC’s packed Light-Heavyweight division. Soszynski has more experience and has fought some very tough Heavyweights and has had some exposure in the TKO, IFL, and TUF course that he took, and will have the Canadian crowd behind him. Both fighters will be looking to stand and knock out their opponent. There is a reason the UFC put this fight third last on such a high profile card with much more experienced vets on the undercard. Look for fireworks in this and whoever can capitalize on the first mistake will end the fight in dramatic fashion. We at Top MMA News might be slightly biased as we have known Krzysztof since he started training in MMA, but believe he will overwhelm Stann and prove that he deserves to stay in the big show. A win over the previous WEC champ will do wonders for him.
- Top MMA News’ Pick: Soszynski by Unanimous Decision
- SportsInteraction Soszynski -161, Stann +120
Jason MacDonald vs. Nate Quarry
MacDonald survives the standup in Round 1 and manages to take Quarry down in Round 2 and submit him.
Denis Kang vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam
Kang TKO in Round 1. Kang redeems himself and dominates Professor X.
David Loiseau vs Ed Herman
Herman in a Decision. Tough fight and tough loss for the Crow in front of his hometown.
TJ Grant vs Ryo Chonan
Grant in a Decision.
Sam Stout vs Matt Wiman
Wiman by Decision.
Mark Bocek vs David Bielkheden
Bocek by Submission in Round 2