Silva Wins Snoozer; ‘Shogun’ Stops Liddell

By Brian Knapp Apr 19, 2009
Even as middleweight champion Anderson Silva ascended to the top of the Octagon, his arms raised in triumph, showers of boos rained down upon him.

It was hardly a king’s reception.

Silva went the distance for the first time in almost five years, as he retained his middleweight crown in a unanimous decision victory against Thales Leites in the main event at UFC 97 “Redemption” on Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Scores were 49-46, 48-47 and 50-46.

Post-fight talked revolved around the crowd’s negative reaction.

“It’s unfortunate,” Silva said. “Sometimes things don’t work out like the public likes it to. Sometimes when you’re not in here, it’s hard to tell what’s going on, but basically [I’m] sorry. Next time, I’ll give a better performance.”

The win put Silva in the record books, as he passed UFC hall of famer Royce Gracie and Jon Fitch for most consecutive victories inside the Octagon with his ninth. The 34-year-old Brazilian absorbed almost no damage in the five-round affair, but he never had Leites on the ropes, either. His weapon of choice became a front leg side kick to his countryman’s knee and quadriceps. Silva used the kicks repeatedly in the middle and latter rounds, perhaps 20 times by fight’s end, and though Leites’ lead leg buckled several times, his resolve held firm.

Thales Leites is a very tough opponent,” Silva said. “Sometimes we can’t always come out here and give a spectacular show. He’s a tough guy, and I know I have to do what the public wants, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.”

Leites put Silva on his back in the second round and transitioned to half guard before his progress stalled. The always-dangerous Silva attacked with elbows to the top of his head from the bottom and ultimately returned to a standing position. With that, Leites missed his only real chance at victory. He was never again successful in getting the champion to the ground, and on his feet, he was little more than a sitting duck.

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion based out of the Nova Uniao camp, Leites crumpled to the ground repeatedly as he tried in vain to lure Silva to the mat. The champion’s frustration grew throughout the fight, but he refused to engage Leites on the ground and fought an intelligent strategic bout.

The loss snapped a five-fight winning streak for Leites (14-2), who still has never been finished. Silva (24-4), meanwhile, has won 10 straight dating back to his disqualification loss to Yushin Okami in January 2006.

File Photo

Rua bounced back in grand style.
‘Shogun’ drops, finishes Liddell

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua looked like his old self. Chuck Liddell just looked old.

The flashy 27-year-old Brazilian stopped the former light heavyweight champion on first-round strikes in the co-main event. Rua dropped Liddell with a lead left hook and finished him off with hammerfists on the ground 4:28 into round one.

“I’m very happy,” Rua said. “Liddell is a legend in MMA.”

Rua’s gameplan was clear from the outset, as he attacked Liddell’s lead leg with kicks and kept him honest with overhand rights. The 2005 Pride middleweight grand prix winner took down Liddell and threatened him with a leg lock before the two light heavyweights resumed their exchanges standing.

In his first appearance since his brutal knockout loss to Rashad Evans last summer, Liddell’s moments were few and far between. He answered Rua’s takedown with one of his own but failed to consolidate it with any damage on the ground. Once the two men stood, Rua looked for an opening and capitalized.

“I’m disappointed,” Liddell said. “I had a great camp. I was in great shape. I was ready to go, and things weren’t firing quite right.”

Liddell (21-7), who turns 40 in December, has lost four of his last five bouts. Once the sport’s most dominant light heavyweight, he now must face the inevitable questions regarding a potential retirement.

“I gotta go home and talk to everybody,” Liddell said. “I don’t know. I just didn’t feel right tonight.”

Soszynski subs Stann

One-time World Extreme Cagefighting light heavyweight champion Brian Stann received a rude welcome to the Octagon from Krzysztof Soszynski.

Soszynski (17-8-1), a far superior and more experienced ground fighter, finished Stann with a kimura 3:53 into the first round and handed the Marine his second straight defeat. A product of season eight of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Soszynski scored twice with takedowns and mounted Stann (6-2) with ease midway through round one. After the second takedown, the International Fight League veteran passed quickly to side control, locked up the kimura and coaxed the tapout, as Stann grimaced in noticeable pain.

“I always go for the kimura,” said Soszynski, a Polish-born Canadian who has finished three consecutive opponents with the hold. “This is the best feeling ever. This is unbelievable.”

Kongo outclasses Hardonk

Seemingly always on the periphery as a heavyweight contender, French kickboxer Cheick Kongo brutalized Antoni Hardonk with ground-and-pound en route to a second-round stoppage. The end came 2:29 into round two.

Kongo (14-4-1) has won five of his past six fights, including three straight. The 33-year-old outclassed Hardonk once the two men left their feet. Inside the Dutchman’s guard, Kongo battered Hardonk (8-5) with close-quarters strikes until he covered up and finished him with hammerfists. Based out of the famed Vos Gym, Hardonk’s offense was limited to leg kicks, though he mounted little else of substance against Kongo.

Cane bests tough Cantwell

In the first main card bout at UFC 97, Luis Arthur Cane outlasted former World Extreme Cagefighting light heavyweight champion Steve Cantwell and notched a unanimous decision in an entertaining and highly competitive bout. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in a match that never went to the ground.

Cane (10-1, 1 NC) dictated the pace early, as he used pinpoint striking and controlled the action from the center of the Octagon. Jabs, straight lefts and left uppercuts flowed freely from the gifted Brazilian, who also battered his opponent in the clinch with knees to the body against the cage. Still, Cantwell did not go away. The 22-year-old found his rhythm in round two, as he stung Cane with kicks to the head and body.

Pushed into a third round for the first time in his career, Cane finished strong, as his power punches, kicks and knees took their toll on Cantwell (7-2), who saw his four-fight winning streak grind to a halt in his second UFC appearance.

Stout’s body shots give him edge over Wiman

Sam Stout’s investment in body blows paid dividends against Matt Wiman, as he notched a unanimous decision victory in a featured lightweight match. All three judges scored it 29-28 in Stout’s favor.

Wiman (10-5) pushed a relentless pace early, but he left himself open to Stout’s more technical striking game. The bearded Colorado native scored with a pair of first-round takedowns but failed to neutralize Stout once the action hit the mat. In one instance, his aggressiveness cost him, as Stout rolled into his guard as he attempted to latch himself onto the Canadian’s back.

Stout (14-5-1) tightened his hold on the match in the second round, as he floored Wiman with a left hook to the body. Though he failed to finish “The Ultimate Fighter 5” alum, his attack took plenty of steam out of Wiman’s attack.

Wiman delivered a pair of takedowns in the final round and cut the Shawn Tompkins protégé near his left eye with an elbow on the ground, but it was not enough to sway the judges.

Andy Cotterill contributed reporting from Montreal.

This story was updated at 9:03 a.m. ET on April 19 to correct an error, which stated that Steve Cantwell’s fight with Luis Arthur Cane was his UFC debut. In fact, it was Cantwell’s second UFC appearance.
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