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White not thrilled with Silva win

Octagonside by Robert Kravantka & Andreas Hale
Photos by Ed Mulholland

In the main event of UFC 97, middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva soundly defeated challenger Thales Leites after five uneventful and bizarre rounds, via unanimous decision.

In an omen of what was to come, Anderson Silva entered Bell Centre’s area to DMX’s Ain’t No Sunshine.  In looking for tying the record for consecutive title defenses, and standing alone with a record setting nine consecutive wins, Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites left fans chanting for GSP and yearning for action during the 25 minute bout.

Similar to Silva’s last fight against Patrick Cote, the fight started with each fighter feeling each other out, circling without much action for the first two minutes of round one.  Thales Leites pressed the action with a flying knee, that didn’t connect.  The round ended with the biggest action a leg kick that sweeps the challenger off his feet.

In the second round, Leites was able to take the champion down, but landed in Silva’s guard.  Unable to do much, the fight was stood back up. Silva began stalking more with hands by his waist, but more feints occured than exchanges.

The third round saw Silva continue to drive and mix it up.  He looked to punish Leites front leg with straight sidekicks.  The champion pulled a switch kick, which Leites mostly blocked, but the fans show their displeasure of Leites’ penchant for continually falling on his back looking to bring the fight to the ground.

The fourth round is a repeat, with Silva mostly landing leg kicks to Leites front leg. 

In the final round, the action picked up when Leites again shot for Silva’s legs.  The two fighters hit the ground, and Silva was able to control Leites and land some punches to the face that bloodies Leites’s nose. 

Although neither fighter was in big danger, Silva controlled the fight, and provided the heavier damage throughout the fight. 

The judges’ scorecard were as follows, 49-46, 48-47, 50-46

After the fight, Silva had to say, “The public can’t always get the fight they want.  Sorry, I will give a better performance next time.”

With the win, Silva continues to cement his place on discussions of the best pound for pound fighter.  Although the fight wasn’t the most exciting fight out there, Silva did what we had to do to win, suffering little to no damage, and retaining his title. 

It is the first time that one of his fights in the UFC has gone the distance.  --Robert Kravantka

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Liddell Iced By Shogun, TKO’ed in First

In a do or die fight for two of MMA’s brightest stars trying to regain past success, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua stopped Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell with a lead left hook, followed by hammerfists on the ground at 4:28 of round one.

For a fighter who was once the most feared man in the MMA, it was imperative that Rua put his previous performances against Forrest Griffin (a loss by choke) and Mark Coleman (an unimpressive knockout victory) behind him and step up against Liddell.

Rua did just that as he worked his game plan to his advantage early and finding an opening to catch “The Iceman” with a beautifully placed left hand.

Rua began the fight by keeping “The Iceman” at bay with leg kicks and occasionally landing an overhand right. Liddell could never really get into a rhythm as he was clearly trying to time Rua for the deadly overhand right. “Shogun” would surprise Liddell with a takedown and attempt a leg lock as Liddell quickly shook it off and got back to his feet. 

Liddell would score a takedown of his own but was unable to land anything of significance before the two were both on their feet again. As Liddell came forward after Rua, “Shogun” found an opening for a left hand and placed it squarely on Liddell’s chin.

The former light heavyweight champion fell to the canvas as Rua pounced on his opponent and served a healthy dosage of hammerfists as referee Mario Yamasaki waved off the bout at 4:28 in the first to give Rua what could be the most significant victory of his career.

"I'm very happy," Rua said. "Liddell is a legend in MMA."

The “legend” may have seen his last days in the Octagon. “The Iceman” has come to be the most popular fighter in the UFC and has helped bring it to a mainstream audience. Impressive victories, devastating knockouts and heated rivalries have long been a part of “The Iceman” and his history in the Octagon. After the loss to Rua, one has to wonder if this could be the last hurrah for the former light heavyweight championship.

Liddell has lost four of his last five and is coming off of another devastating knockout loss to Rashad Evans.

"I gotta go home and talk to everybody," Liddell said as the Canadian contingency roared for Liddell. "I don't know. I just didn't feel right tonight." --Andreas Hale

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Stout Gets Judges’ Nod on Home Soil

In a lightweight bout, Sam Stout used his superior cardio and striking to out point Matt Wiman to improve his record to 15-5-1. 

Both fighters start quick, exchanging big punches in the middle of the Octagon.  Wiman connected with a couple of right hands that are followed by a takedown of Sam Stout.  Stout looks to use the cage to stand up, which Wiman countered by grappling Stouts neck and jumping into a guillotine choke.  In trying to bring the fight to the ground, Stout slipped out and landed on top.  Round One closes with lots of action.

The second round continues the action, with Wiman jumping in with a knee.  The two fighters’ trade superman punches.  Stout was getting the better of the stand up, and delivered a left hook to the body that dropped Wiman.  Seeing Wiman hurt, Sam jumped in to finish the fight. 

Wiman nearly pulled off an arm bar submission but somehow Stout escaped.  Stout appeared to be the fresher of the fighters, and did not sit between rounds.

Wiman, in the third round, was able to get Stout’s back, and took him on the ground.  However, Stout successfully defended the choke by turning into the head and body of his opponent and was able to reverse and land up on top of Wiman. 

Wiman ends the third with a by rallying in impressive fashion. Unfortunately it was a little too late, as Matt Wiman drops to 10-5-0 with all three judges scoring the bout, 29-28 for Sam Stout.--Robert Kravantka

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The Polish Experiment Subs Former WEC Champion

In a matchup between former WEC champion Brian Stann and The Ultimate Fighter season 8’s Krzysztof Soszynski, “The Polish Experiment” looked impressive as he made Stann tap with a kimura at 3:53 in the first.

Stann was rudely welcomed to the Octagon as he quickly found out how important it is to have a strong ground game in the UFC. The WEC standout found himself on his back twice as Soszynski scored takedowns early. Stann didn’t put up much resistance as Soszynski passed Stann’s guard and easily took side control.

At that point it was no longer an “if” but “when” the Polish fighter would sink in his trademark kimura. In a matter of moments, Stann was grimacing in pain as he tapped out at 3:53.

Stann falls to 6-2 in his MMA career while Soszynski earns his 2nd UFC victory (17-9-1 overall).

“The ending, I always try to get side mount and go for the kimura,” a joyous Soszynski said. “Not too many people can get out of my kimura.”  --Andreas Hale

Kongo Moves closer to Title Shot, TKO’s Hardonk

Heavyweight contender Cheick Kongo viciously stopped Antoni Hardonk in the second round to stake his claim to the top of the short heavyweight contender list.

The first round started with Hardonk stalking Kongo, pushing him up against the cage.  The two clinch, and with a lack of action, the referee breaks them up.  Hardonk looks for a leg kick which Kongo catches and puts Hardonk on the mat.  Kongo took the round with some late ground and pound.

In the second round, Kongo again took Hardonk down to the ground.  Softening up Hardonk’s guard, Kongo landed heavy punches from the top position, followed by an elbow that opens up a cut. 

Hardonk covered up but Kongo did not relent forcing the TKO stoppage at 2:29 of the second round.--Andreas Hale

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Cane Tallies Impressive Victory

On paper it looked like the Light Heavyweight bout between Steve Cantwell and Luiz Cane would never make it to the final bell.

But after three rounds of standup action in the evening’s first televised card, Luiz Cane punched his way to an easy unanimous decision victory over “Robot.”

Cantwell found himself on the wrong side of the punching bag as Cane was the aggressor throughout. Neither fighter was in serious trouble but the judges all saw it in favor of Cane with scores of 29-28 and 30-27 twice.

The bout was full of entertainment as both fighters traded blows and decided to keep the entire matchup standing. Cane kept Cantwell at bay with a stiff jab and sharp striking. Cantwell found himself trying to counter Cane but just couldn’t settle into a rhythm.

 Following a pretty dominant first round by “Banha,” Cantwell rebounded and landed several head kicks in the second round to keep things competitive.

Entering the third and final round, Cane would finish strong as he pounded the former WEC fighter with a bevy of strikes. Kicks, punches and knees all found their home as Cantwell simply couldn’t do enough to hold Cane back.

The victory earns Luiz Cane his third victory in a row (10-1-1 overall) and moves him up the ladder in the 205lbs division. Cantwell loses for the first time after reeling off five wins in a row since losing to Brian Stann back in 2007.--Andreas Hale

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Middleweight Denis Kang Gets First Win in UFC with Win over Xavier Foupa-Pokam

Vancouver, British Columbia’s Denis Kang gives the Canadians something to cheer about, as he defeats Xavier with a three round decision. 

While Foupa-Pokam appeared to be a little quicker in the striking aspect, there was no doubt that the advantage on the ground was with Kang.  “Professor X.” had to focus on defense, surviving an arm triangle in the first and a kimura in the third. 

Kang exploited this for three rounds to win the fight via a unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27.--Andreas Hale

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Short Fuse grounds Crow’s Return to the UFC

Ed “Short Fuse” Herman used his superior control on the ground to thwart the athletic standup of David “The Crow” Loiseau, and spoiled the Crow’s return to the UFC from a three year hiatus.

 The fans went wild with two spinning back kicks that nearly connected on Herman, but the miss left Loiseau vulnerable to the takedown.  For the first two rounds, Loiseau came out with big kicks that left an opening for Herman to take him to the ground. 

From there, Herman inflicted damage from big knees to the body along with some ground and pound. 

The third round, David catches Herman with a straight that hurts Herman.  Unable to avoid the clinch, Herman averted any further damage by taking the fight to the ground.  All three rounds were scored for Herman, as the judges read, 30-26, 30-27, and 30-27.Andreas Hale

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Grant Victorious Over Chonan

In an evenly fought and entertaining match, TJ Grant improved his record to 14-2 with a split decision win over Ryo Chonan. 

Grant looked quicker in the first round, and when the fight did go to the bottom he was able to defend from any damage from Chonan.  The second started with an aggressive TJ swinging and pressing forward, allowing a clinch and takedown from Ryo.  TJ ended the fight with a big knee and two punch combination to seal the win. 

The judges’ scorecard read 30-27, 29 -28 for Ryo and 29-28 giving a split win decision win to TJ Grant.--Robert Kravantka

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The Rock Clobbers an “Athlete”

Jason MacDonald was in his home country of Canada, ask Nate Quarry if he cared where he was at for this fight.

Quarry made short work of Jason MacDonald as he dominated the Canadian en route to a TKO victory due to strikes in the first round.

 It didn’t last long for MacDonald, as a botched takedown attempt led to Quarry on top of “The Athlete” and it was all downhill from there.

“Rock” wasted no time raining down brutal elbows from the full guard position as MacDonald could only attempt to cover up. After being split open from a nasty elbow, Quarry utilized a bevy of elbows and punches before referee Mario Yamasaki called a halt to the bout at 2:27 in the first round.

“I knew I hit him with a good elbow and cut him,” Quarry said. “From where the cut was I knew the blood would get in his eyes and mess with his mind.”--Andreas Hale

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Bock Tames Bielkheden

Lightweight Mark Bocek pleased his hometown Canadian fans as he dominated and eventually tapped David Bielkheden in the first round with a sizzling performance as he improved to 7-2.

 A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Bocek put his tools to work early by taking down Bielkheden and methodically passing his guard and transitioning to full mount.

From there, all Bielkheden could do was try to avoid the punches heading his way as Bocek looked to finish off his opponent with a surplus of strikes. Trying to avoid the punishment, the Brazilian offered his back to Bocek and the Canadian thanked his opponent by cinching in a choke with under ten seconds left in the round. Bielkheden tried to hand on but had no choice but to tap out due to a rear naked choke at 4:57.

This is Bocek’s second win in a row after being choked out by Mac Danzig back at UFC 83.

“What I took away from this match is I have to keep improving and never be satisfied,” Bocek said afterwards.--Robert Kravantka

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The Fire Marshall douses Magalhaes

In the evening’s first bout between The Ultimate Fighter season 7 cast members, Eliot “The Fire” Marshall defeated Vinny Magalhaes via unanimous decision. Both fighters spent the majority of the fight standing up as Marshall got the better of Magalhaes with his strikes. Magalhaes was able to take down Marshall in the 2nd and 3rd rounds but was not productive enough to offset Marshall’s early striking advantage to earn the victory.

“I felt like I hit him more than he hit me. I worked harder than him,” Marshall said after the fight. “The strategy was keep it on the feet. I knew he would fade.” --Andreas Hale

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