by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
The UFC has announced that Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva will finally be fighting each other at a UFC event in November, provided that Liddell is able to successfully defend his UFC Light Heavyweight Title against Renato “Babalu” Sobral on August 26th at UFC 62.
Though the rankings vary, Liddell and Silva are widely regarded as two of the top three 205-pound fighters in any MMA organization in the world, along with Silva’s teammate and fellow Pride star Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who won a 16-man Grand Prix tournament of 205-pound fighters in Pride last year.
When asked during the post-UFC 61 press conference whether the Liddell-Silva fight will be a title fight, UFC president Dana White reportedly said, “It will be for the title.” When asked by another reporter whether Silva is signed for a certain number of fights in the UFC, White reportedly said, “Yeah, three [fights]. We’re probably going to have him for three.” When asked by another reporter whether there will be more Pride stars fighting on future UFC cards, White reportedly said, “Possibly. Every year, we try to take it to another level.”
Though it wasn’t specifically mentioned by the UFC, a few other things will also have to happen (or not happen) in order for Silva vs. Liddell to take place in November. Liddell will need to not only beat Sobral on August 26th, but he will also have to beat Sobral without sustaining any injuries in the process if he is going to fight Silva in November. Liddell has been out of action since February due to foot surgery.
In addition, Wanderlei Silva will have to escape unscathed from his fight (or fights) on the “Pride Final Conflict Absolute” card on September 10th in Japan, which is just two months before his scheduled fight against Liddell in November. Silva will be fighting on the Pride card in the final four of Pride’s 16-man Open Weight Grand Prix, in which the other three semi-finalists are highly ranked heavyweights Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, and Josh Barnett.
The semi-finals and finals of Pride’s Open Weight Grand Prix will both take place on September 10th, so Silva will be fighting twice in one night if he wins in the semi-finals. While Silva’s fight against Liddell in the UFC would not be dependent on whether Silva wins or loses in the Pride Grand Prix, Silva would certainly have to emerge from the event injury-free, win or lose, in order to be able to fight Liddell in the UFC two months later.
It has not been announced whether Liddell will also be fighting Silva in a Pride ring (under Pride rules) in Japan at any time in the future.
Another factor that has not been addressed by the UFC or Pride is how the Silva-Liddell match-up will affect each fighter’s potential title defenses against fighters from their own companies. Prior to the Silva-Liddell announcement, Tito Ortiz was believed to be #1 contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title (after the Liddell vs. Sobral fight in August), while the top contenders for Silva’s 205-pound title in Pride are believed to be Ricardo Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
One also has to wonder what exactly is going to happen if Silva manages to beat Liddell for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title. One would certainly think that the UFC would not sign a Silva-Liddell fight without having a contractual guarantee that Liddell gets a rematch if he loses to Silva, but that is pure conjecture and is just one of the many questions that MMA fans are pondering right now.
In the big picture, though, it all boils down to the fact that it looks like Chuck Liddell is going to be fighting Wanderlei Silva in the near future, and that’s something that hardcore MMA fans have been waiting to hear for years.