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Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva - Pride Champion vs. UFC Champion in International MMA Battle

By Cliff Montgomery, ExtremeProSports.com
FORGET STRATEGY. Forget speed and agility. Nothing grabs the attention of fight fans like a good old-fashioned slugfest--especially when it's brought to us by two great punchers who are each at the top of their profession and about to bang the living hell out of each other.

During UFC 61, UFC President Dana White called current PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva (2001-present) to the octagon. The purpose? To officially announce that Silva will challenge current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell in a November 2006 title match, pending a successful title defense by Liddell at UFC 62 against Renato "Babalu" Sobral.

As far as I know, there's no word from Sobral regarding the insinuation that the UFC big boys fully expect Liddell to still be the light heavyweight champion in November...

But the pending Liddell-Silva match is an unusual statement to say the least. For those of you new to the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) game, the UFC and PRIDE are two separate MMA leagues--the UFC is based primarily in the Americas; PRIDE is the Asia-based Mixed Martial Arts championship. For various reasons, the two usually don't mix fighters.

But there seems to be an exception here; at least it does not appear as if Silva's association with PRIDE has ended. Silva wore a PRIDE T-shirt to the cage, and even praised PRIDE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara. White declined to release details of the matter at a post-event press conference, but did add that, "We're probably going to have him [Silva] for three [fights]." No further details have yet been announced.

What does such a match-up hold? Since Silva is less of a household name in the Americas, let's look at him first, to give everyone an idea of what fight fans may witness in November...

Wanderlei Silva is a fierce Brazilian MMA fighter, who has earned the nickname "the Axe Murderer" for his remarkably aggressive style. It's an "all-out" style rooted in old-fashioned street brawling, refined with elements of Muay Thai and kickboxing. Silva has been trained in Muay Thai and also recently received a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Silva has achieved the majority of his wins either through a knockout or a referee stoppage due to his massive strikes. He is known for often actively engaging opponents with a flurry of punches, and utilizing his knees in a clinch, employing a classic Muay Thai style. He has also sometimes been known to kick and stomp downed opponents while holding the ring ropes, if the rules do not expressly forbid it.

Silva"s nickname in Brazil is "Cachorro Louco", which translates to "Mad Dog"--partly because of his aggressive fighting style, and partly because Silva employs a vicious stare against his opponents just before his fights begin.

Silva currently trains under Rudimar Fedrigo at the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil, and his MMA record (as of July 1st, 2006) is one you'd expect of a long-reigning MMA middleweight champion: 31 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 1 no contest.

Silva is an MMA fighter who has fought in both PRIDE and UFC. But while he also did reasonably well in the UFC, he suffered his worst career defeat during his debut into that league.

On October 16, 1998, at UFC Brazil: Ultimate Brazil, Silva (already a top Vale Tudo fighter) was destroyed in a match against Vitor Belfort. Belfort pummeled Silva for 44 seconds before being knocked out by Belfort's punches. Though Silva won his next UFC match at UFC 20 where he knocked out Tony Petarra by knees, he lost by decision to Tito Ortiz at UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3.

So does Wanderlei Silva have what it takes to defeat Chuck Liddell? For those who have been living in a box, Charles David Liddell, popularly referred to as Chuck Liddell, is also called "The Iceman," and for a very good reason: he tends to put his opponents on ice.

Though Liddell is rightly proud of his wrestling skills, learned while at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California, he is perhaps best-known as possibly being the most ferocious striker in the UFC today. This combination makes Liddell a fearsome opponent in both the ground and stand-up positions.

Predictions? Hell no. Gut feelings? Liddell will probably pull this one out, if the scheduled fight with Silva goes down. Silva's style has never been as successful in the UFC as it is in PRIDE, and Liddell has the wrestling advantage to boot.

But we do know one thing: though everyone enjoys watching a good strategist, and such abilities as speed do fascinate...there's still something fascinating about a brutal, ferocious puncher. And when two great warriors such as Liddell and Silva announce a plan to go toe-to-toe, you know you're going to see a dazzling flurry of punches, backed by raw power.

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