Minute by Minute: UFC 97 weigh-insBy Jake Rossen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Friday, 5:46 p.m. ET: Organizers have replaced the analog scale with a digital one for reasons unknown. Big turnout to ogle the dehydrated guys in their underwear.
6:07 p.m. An unkempt Matt Wiman, looking like the Unibomber, weighs in at 155; opponent Sam Stout is the same.
6:08 p.m. T.J. Grant clocks in at 169; Ryo Chonan uses the one-pound allowance to make 171. Hair is average.
6:10 p.m. David Bielkheden is 157. Time to get into a Glad bag. Mark Bocek is 154.
6:11 p.m. Local hero David Loiseau is received like the cure for cancer. He weighs 185. Ed Herman, roundly booed, logs 186.
6:14 p.m. Jason MacDonald looks like an anatomy chart at 186; Nate Quarry weighs the same, give or take the metal Steve Austin stuff used to fix his back.
6:16 p.m. Xavier Foupa-Pokam and Denis Kang are both 185.
6:17 p.m. Vinny Magalhaes records 204; Eliot Marshall is 205.
6:19 p.m. Vowel-hating Krzysztof Soszynski is 204; WEC exile and Captain America lookalike Brian Stann weighs 206.
6:20 p.m. Steve Cantwell, who beat Stann in the WEC, comes in at 205; Luis Arthur Cane looks slightly soft at 206.
6:22 p.m. Big, scary kickboxing animals Antoni Hardonk and Cheick Kongo are 249 and 232, respectively.
6:25 p.m. Chuck Liddell and Mauricio Rua get big cheers despite not being able to say "aboot." Rua looks to have been using the Thighmaster. He’s a fit and lean 206 pounds. Liddell comes out to a bigger chorus of cheers. His belly is slightly engorged, but it’s been worse. He’s 206. Upper body looks extremely sinewy. If these guys come in as their ’06 selves, it’s the fight of the night.
6:29 p.m. Thales Leites enters to a funeral atmosphere compared to the Liddell-Rua reception. 185 on the potentially broken nose. Anderson Silva is all smiles. He removes several layers of clothing, wipes his nose, then steps on the scale. 182 pounds, not an ounce of it ego.
Live weigh-in resultsBy Mike Fridley (email@example.com)
Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET: The weigh-ins have completed. Sherdog.com associate editor Brian Knapp has an in-depth report here. Below is a quick rundown of the tallies.
UFC 97 Weigh-in Results:
Anderson Silva (182) vs. Thales Leites (185)
Chuck Liddell (206) vs. Mauricio Rua (206)
Cheick Kongo (232) vs. Antoni Hardonk (249)
Steve Cantwell (205) vs. Luis Arthur Cane (206)
Krzysztof Soszynski (204) vs. Brian Stann (206)
Eliot Marshall (205) vs. Vinny Magalhaes (204)
Denis Kang (185) vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam (185)
Jason MacDonald (186) vs. Nate Quarry (186)
David Loiseau (185) vs. Ed Herman (186)
Mark Bocek (154) vs. David Bielkheden (157)
Ryo Chonan (171) vs. T.J. Grant (169)
Sam Stout (155) vs. Matt Wiman (155)
Faux-live bloggin’ from UFC 97 weigh-insBy Jake Rossen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Friday, 5:30 p.m. ET: Disclaimer: I’m not physically in Montreal. Canada has yet to issue me an official apology for exporting Howie Mandel. Until then, we’re not on speaking terms.
Things to look out for as events unfold, with live updates as body-fat percentages warrant:
Chuck Liddell’s gutsy performance
As seen on Spike’s “Deadliest Warrior” series, Chuck Liddell suffers from central obesity. If he weighs in with some muffin top spillover, it should not necessarily be seen as a sign of poor conditioning or preparation.
Having said that, a streamlined torso would add credence to Liddell’s claim that he’s been working hard to put on a late-inning performance Saturday. Watch the gut. The gut tells all.
Anderson Silva’s reach
Height statistics are traditionally the most scrambled of any MMA factoids; two guys can both be listed as 6-foot-one, but when they finally face off, it could look like an NBA forward staring down a horse jockey.
Keep an eye out for Silva’s reach compared to challenger Thales Leites. If his knee looks like a good fit for Leites’ nose, maybe back off on that underdog wager a little bit.
Ryo Chonan’s hair
1-2 in the Octagon, Chonan appears miles away from a rematch with Anderson Silva -- a fight where he jumped into a flying heelhook to execute the most embarrassing moment in Silva’s career.
A guy like that, he looks for crowd support however he can get it -- up to and including suffering skin reactions to hair dye. I’m thinking red streaks with a “Hello, Kitty” punching Garfield from the mount shaved into the temple.
Joe Rogan’s struggle with technology
Detours into sensory deprivation tanks aside, Joe Rogan is one of the best assets this sport has ever had: passionate, informed and rabid in his delivery. He still does not embrace the concept of not having to scream into a microphone in order to be heard.
The microphone yells for you, Joe. It’s an awesome example of human ingenuity. Please don’t abuse it.
White: that Liddell retirement thing? Yeah, uh … scratch that
Something happens to Dana White when a microphone is placed near his mouth. At this point, he must feel an overwhelming compulsion to say something provocative, controversial or offensive, lest listeners feel let down. It’s like going to a Springsteen concert and then the big jerk doesn’t play “Born to Run.”
At a pre-event press conference for UFC 97, White paved over his previously concrete statements on a Chuck Liddell loss Saturday leading to his retirement. Now -- shock of shocks -- he says it’s up to Liddell when to walk away.
One thing that’s beyond discussion: If Liddell does hang it up in the UFC, it won’t be to retreat to a series of special-attraction fights in Strikeforce or overseas. Liddell and Matt Hughes are among the promotion’s most loyal employees.
On Silva’s ‘best ever in the history of … ever’ statusBy Jake Rossen (email@example.com)
Friday, 5:10 p.m. ET: From Thursday’s news conference comes trademark Dana White hyperbole: If Anderson Silva defeats Thales Leites this weekend at UFC 97, he is, without doubt, the best “pound-for-pound” fighter in the world. (I’m paraphrasing. Add your own helping of profanities.)
He’s excellent. No debate needed. But the best champion the UFC has ever had? What about Matt Hughes’ eight title defenses to Silva’s four? What about Randy Couture circumventing decomposition on multiple occasions to beat young punks, oftentimes at their own game, in a “prime” that lasted 11 years?
In his UFC tenure, Silva has fought three truly elite fighters: Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin (twice), and Nate Marquardt. All decorated champions, all formidable. Cote, Leben, Lutter -- while all are dangerous in their own way, they’re not likely to occupy any substantial portions of MMA history.
So -- four tippy-top-level fights, assisted by the fact that he looked sensational in all of them.
Compare his tenure to Hughes, who fought top-level contemporaries Carlos Newton, Hayato Sakurai, Frank Trigg, Georges St. Pierre, B.J. Penn and Sean Sherk. Or St. Pierre, who fended off Jon Fitch, Hughes himself, Trigg and Penn.
MMA is very much a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately climate. Silva is on TV right now, in front of huge crowds, and backed by a PR machine that runs on rocket fuel. Any discussion of “best ever, ever” status is probably best held over until careers have wrapped up and there’s a little more perspective on the situation.
Of course, tomorrow’s pragmatism doesn’t sell today’s tickets.
Dave Menne is tiredBy Jake Rossen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Friday, 4:40 p.m. ET: “Ultimate Fighter”-weaned fans might not remember Dave Menne, who posted up two lackluster performances against Josh Koscheck (untelevised) and Luigi Fioravanti in 2006.
Menne was part of the original breed of Midwest attrition guys who would wear you out from sheer relentlessness, dragging opponents into a quicksand of an endurance run. It didn’t make for flashy highlights -- there’s no “Ultimate Dave Menne” special planned and his lone replay-value fight was when he was demolished against Phil Baroni in 2002 -- but he did win a UFC middleweight title.
Larry Vollmer Jr.’s LoHud.com MMA blog reports that Menne is set to make a return in tonight’s Bellator III after spending several years suffering from Lyme Disease, an infectious agent often caused by rolling around in the woods near a bunch of ticks. Fatigue and general malaise are the most common symptoms, though the same might be said of some spectators during one of Menne’s fights. (That attrition thing? Not always sports nitrogen.)
All the same, here’s wishing Menne a successful return.
Can Anderson Silva Make History Saturday?By Jake Rossen (email@example.com)
Friday, 3:15 p.m. ET: Sports fans love statistics. I’ve seen guys rattle off the runs batted in of obscure ballplayers born in the late 1800s (I’ve seen these same men oblivious to the mustard stains on their shirts, but that’s another story). There are maniacs who can tell you how many times Michael Jordan has dunked while wearing blue Nikes. It’s fun for them. I guess.
I prefer the broader strokes, which is why Saturday’s bout between Anderson Silva and Thales Leites carries a little bit of extra intrigue. Should Silva use Leites’ head as a percussion instrument, as most expect, he will record a record ninth consecutive win in the Octagon, breaking the tie with Royce Gracie and Jon Fitch, who was up there with eight but ran into Georges St. Pierre.
The qualifier “in the Octagon” is important, as it’s relatively easy to chalk up a streak in smaller shows against local air conditioning repairmen. Silva has fought a murderer’s row in the UFC and finished all but Patrick Cote -- unless you argue he used Combat Ki to bum up Cote’s knee.
It’ll be only his fifth title defense, though. Travis Lutter didn’t make weight after earning a shot on “The Ultimate Fighter,” and James Irvin was at 205 pounds. He could tie Matt Hughes, who defended his title five consecutive times.
Or not -- Hughes regained the title and defended it three more times. That’s a hell of a thing to do.
Shamrock/Miletich Back-Burnered?By Jake Rossen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Friday, 3:00 p.m. ET: From FightHype.com comes informal, unofficial word that discussions were recently taking place for a Frank Shamrock-Pat Miletich summer scrap in Strikeforce. Hey, at least somebody wants to go retro for UFC 100.
With Shamrock losing to Nick Diaz, talks may have stalled -- and I have no idea why. It’s a terrific fight for both men, who peaked at roughly the same time in the late 1990s. Miletich actually expressed a desire to fight Shamrock then; Frank had other plans, some of which included wearing a ceremonial tribal headgear and reinventing himself as “Frank Juarez Shamrock” in Japan. There was also a full schedule of spending the next nine years gushing a vomitorium’s worth of smack.
I’ve long petitioned promotions to cease the pointless pairings of aging pioneers and modern-day killers. There’s very little suspense in watching a young man beat up an old one. Not everyone can be Randy Couture. Let’s move on already.
Check the blog all day for more entries.