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UFC 79: Another update from Vegas

liddell_silva_weigh_in

I was feeling well enough to attend the weigh-ins yesterday. I came back to my room to write a report but saw that Paul had done such a good job with it, I was like “Screw it, I’m on vacation and he covered the major points anyway.”

I do have a few minor tidbits to add.

I was surprised during the weigh-ins to hear just how much support Wanderlei Silva got. You know, the UFC is viewed as a hometown sports team here in Vegas and Chuck Liddell is one of the faces of the UFC. You’d think that Silva would be treated as an outside and get booed. Not so. The crowd was excited to see him and reacted to him as if he’s been fighting in the UFC for years. And while I’m not sure they were loud enough to be heard during the live stream, there were a few small pocket of fans that booed Liddell. My guess is that there are some old school PRIDE fans that came out to see this dream match and are pro-Wanderlei.

In regard to the staredown antics, I’ve read a few comments on the Internet suggesting that it looked staged. Who knows for sure, but I couldn’t disagree more. The heat looked legit. It started off as just an intense staredown but it escalated after Wanderlei did a shoulder lunge as if he was going to throw a punch. From my vantage point, it looked like Chuck flinched. Chuck started to move away and gave Wanderlei the finger. Wanderlei got heated again and tried to go after Chuck but a ton of people stood between them. It looked real and intense. These guys have been rivals for so long and are big-time competitors. There’s probably nothing personal between the two, but neither is going to let the other gain an edge going into the fight.

The body language of both fighters was very interesting. Wanderlei was all smiles as he hit the stage. Chuck looked relaxed as usual, but he just didn’t seem as confident as he normally does. That’s probably me just reading too much into it but that’s the impression I came away with. Something just seemed a little off.

Also, if Matt Hughes thought that Matt Serra came off worse during this past season of TUF then he received a reality check when he was introduced to the crowd right before he weighed in. Hughes was almost booed out of the building! In typical Hughes fashion though, he was almost totally oblivious to it and his only reaction was a minor grin. Some of the booing could have to do with the fact that GSP is a huge crowd favorite. I was amazed at how many people traveled from Canada to see him fight at UFC 74 and he had similar support yesterday. There were tons of Canadian flags. My prediction is that when GSP headlines Montreal that it will be the loudest ovation that any MMA fighter has ever received.

Another thing I found interesting was seeing St. Pierre late Friday night.

It was kind of weird because as I was going back to my room following the IFO show, GSP and two friends of his walked right past me on my floor. I guess he possibly has the big suite at the end of the hall? It just struck me as weird because it was approximately 11 p.m. PT when I saw him. I guess I should read too much into it. He didn’t look like he was partying and there’s no sense in him going to bed that early if he’s not fighting for another 24 hours. Perhaps he was just getting something to eat?

As usual, there are a lot of fighters in town for the show. Anderson Silva, Tim Sylvia, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Clay Guida all attended the weigh-ins. Jackson approached Silva right before the weigh-ins started and the two talked for about 5-10 minutes. It was cool seeing the two top guys in their respective weight class hanging out and talking. I’ve also seen Mike Swick and Evan Tanner hanging around.

One other thing. I just wanted to give the Mandalay Bay buffet a big two thumbs down. Man, this is such an awesome hotel yet their buffet is so underwhelming. They need to step it up.

Check out tons more UFC 79 content on FiveOuncesofPain.com

12 COMMENTS
  • Steve says:

    Sam, I keep reading comments from people all over the net saying Chuck looked great and he looked like he’s back to the same old Chuck at the weigh ins. But I saw more of what you saw. I did hear some boos from the crowd when Chuck came on. Just from the recent interviews he’s had and how he looked at the weigh ins I’m not sure his mind is right for this fight. He didn’t seem to have that same confidence and swagger he used to have and he looked a little stiff last night. Maybe I’m reading into it, but I’m wondering if doubts are creeping into his mind.

    Wandy on the other hand physically looked just like he always did in Pride, with that same intensity and confidence that he’s about to rip someone’s head off. From everything I’ve seen I’m picking Wand, although Chuck can obviously put him to sleep with one punch. Wand just seems much better prepared physically and mentally and has had a lot more time to recover from his losses where Chuck publicly stated he was planning to take some time off until this fight was offered. I guess we’ll find out tonight, but my guess is he probably should have taken it.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Steve, I agree with you. I wouldn’t go so far though as to say Chuck is having doubts though. My thinking is that in most of his other bouts, Chuck was convinced he was going to win. It seemed like going into so many of those other fights he knew all he needed to do was stay on his feet and there was no way he’d get beat. I just kind of got the feeling that with Wanderlei, he’s not exactly sure how it’s going to go down.

  • Dizzle says:

    poor hughes…can’t believe they boo this guy. Reality TV really has turned him out to be this bad guy that he really isn’t.

    I feel for him…I hope he smashes GSP tonight.

  • Craig R. says:

    Although I’m rooting for GSP, I gotta agree with Dizzle. The crowd should not have booed Hughes. Whatever his flaws, he deserved to respected as a fighter and the most dominant champion in the sport.

  • Gong says:

    I’m curious as to how Rampage and Silva carried a conversation. Is he getting better at English now?

  • bubbafat says:

    Well, I don’t think Rampage is learning Portuguese, buddy.

  • Wang Chung says:

    sam, wouldn’t georges be up late because he’ll be fighting around that time??? i’m west coast so…the ppv’s over here start at 7pm. i’m assuming that georges wouldn’t be fighting until after midnight east coast time, no?

  • jaydog says:

    Hughes has consistently made decisions that have slowly lost him support (fighting skills aside). I don’t think fans owe him any special treatment, except maybe jeers and boos.

    Silva and Jackson probably talked about their respective difficulties getting promoted by the UFC despite their belts and skills. Of course, that’s probably changing for Rampage a bit. I’m sure “Bald cracker still punking you?” probably translates in either of their native tongues.

    About the Iceman/Wandy fight… I’m less interested in who wins/loses than I am in seeing their game plans, conditioning, and heart. If the loser does good, there’s no reason he can’t be a contender by winning a fight or two after this. The UFC will want to reward both of them if they put on the show that everyone’s been waiting for.

  • mike wolfe says:

    Chuck better be a little worried. His “hang around counterpunching and waiting for the knockout”strategy cost him the fight with Jardine. If he’s worried then maybe he got serious in his camp about how to deal with Silva proactively.

  • Timo Mika says:

    Great card GSP in the 2nd rd,will knock out matt wishing he should have retired.Chuck better be at his all time best for this,because after that last fight with Jardine I coiuld smell the stink all the way back to Summerland BC ca.Wanderlai to much talent to strong and well versed.

  • Tyson says:

    #9

    So it got him in trouble with Jardine. It also won him 20 fights, with 9 knockouts in a row. I dont see him changing anything.

  • mike wolfe says:

    Tyson–

    He was more aggressive with Silva than he was with Jardine. Plus takedowns! A spinning backfist! What’s next? Arm bars?

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