UFC 97 – The Aftermath

UFC 97 is getting the worst feedback for any show that I can remember since maybe UFC 61. Is it deserved? Well, according to our FGB writers, that answer would be yes.

It’s time for some feedback. Since Cactus Jim was the first to send me his feedback, he’s first here.

Cactus Jim

(When I asked the guys if the main event killed their inspiration to write, here was Jim’s response: “Kill my inspiration? It damn near drove me to kill myself.”)

Show overall rating: Thumbs Down

Best Fight: Sam Stout vs. Matt Wiman
Worst Fight: Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites

On paper it appeared to be a two card fight and in reality it didn’t even deliver that. As critical as I was of some of the recent European shows, this was the worst MMA show I’ve seen in a long time, UFC or any other promotion. The main event on this card had everyone except the fighters involved in it apologizing. It was extremely frustrating to watch. The co-main event featured two fighters in Liddell and Rua that were willing to engage. The finish was good, but left me feeling a bit sad for Chuck Liddell. He provided many highlight reel finishes and was a dominant fighter, but it became painfully apparent once again that time and his lifestyle have caught up to him and his days as a fighter should end. There were more fights on the undercard that had me interested than the main card and it appears from written reports that none of them really delivered either.

Any promotion can have an off night, but I think this show highlights several matchmaking issues. There are a lot of good fighters that I’d like to see in the ring together, but because they train together they don’t want to fight. That can’t be blamed (solely) on Joe Silva, but some of the recent poor match making and lackluster cards rests squarely with Joe and Dana White. I understand that they can’t all be top to bottom super fights, but titles being defended once or twice a year is ridiculous. Putting guys like Brian Stann on the main card while much more talented fighters are on the undercard, just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think the UFC is suffering from the same thing that’s killing WWE – lack of real competition means you don’t have anyone raising the bar so you can coast and the fans are basically forced to buy what you’re selling or go without. I’m not ready to go without (yet).

Alan

Show overall rating: Thumbs Down

Best Fight: Sam Stout vs. Matt Wiman
Worst Fight: Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites

Worst UFC in ages. Wiman may have saved it from being the worst ever.

Duan

Show overall rating: Thumbs Down

Best Fight: Sam Stout vs. Matt Wiman
Worst Fight: Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites

A hugely disappointing show. The Wiman vs. Stout match up was really the only decent fight on the undercard, and the main event was horrible. Silva is a guy who wasn’t drawing as a main eventer, even when he was the most exciting fighter in the company. It’s hard to know what to do with him now after two very dull fights in a row. You have this super talented guy, who they are presenting as the best fighter in the world, and people are losing interest in him.

I personally don’t feel Silva was at fault here. I believe he did everything in his power to try make the fight fun to watch. It was just an awkward mismatch of styles. Sometimes that’s just the way things work out. It probably wouldn’t have been as much of an issue other than the fact that it came directly after the Cote fight. Now people are beginning to see a trend form. His next fight will be absolutely crucial. He has to look devastating again. Another performance like this and he will be in danger of becoming a champion that no one will pay to see fight.

I believed that Chuck Liddell was a shot fighter since the Jardine fight, but I still thought he would take this one, simply because Rua had looked awful in his first two UFC appearances. I don’t believe a win here means that Shogun is back or anything of that nature. He certainly looked sharper than he did in the Coleman fight, but a lot of things remain unanswered. He really went untested here. I want to see him in against a fighter at the top of their game before I make that judgment.

Big D

Show overall rating: Thumbs In Hell

Best Fight: Nothing
Worst Fight: Everything

It’s amazing because UFC 97 was probably the worst show they’ve put on in a decade, but because one of their biggest stars ever had his last hoorah, it will remain memorable.

So Chuck is done. What more can be said about his career that hasn’t already been written or will be written in the next couple of years? Shogun showed up more energetic and in better shape than he has looked since 2006. He caught Liddell square in the jaw, symbolically putting the nail in the coffin of his UFC career. At least UFC can market the star as the “man who retired Chuck”, even though it wouldn’t exactly be the whole truth.

The undercard – I didn’t care. I mean sure Stout vs. Wyman was fine, but it didn’t even matter. It was just another MMA bout – nothing to get behind. While most people at my sports bar emptied out after the Chuck fight, a few of us stayed behind to watch the pound for pound best in the world fight, and hoped we’d see bloodshed. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites was very bad. I don’t think I need to tell you that. Silva tried his best to entertain us with bizarre offensive tactics such as punches to the knee and little jive dances, and while these kind of shenanigans would’ve probably gotten over in Japan, Silva is established in North America as a killing machine and when we don’t see him kill somebody – it’s just not as fun. I actually blame Leites for the fight being so poor more than Silva. Silva did what he needed to do to retain his title, but Leites was simply not physically or mentally capable of keeping up with Silva. Leites was outclassed in every possible way, including jiu-jitsu and shockingly had major problems taking Spider down. This fight will be remembered as probably the worst main event in UFC since Tim Sylvia vs. Arlovski in the summer of 2006.

People need to realize one thing – this is what happens when you have one guy who is so incredibly good that he destroys everybody he’s pitted against in his weight (and dispatches them rather quickly) and you have to dig down to the bottom of the barrel to find opponents for him. The issue is, when you dig this deep in the barrel, you find guys who are either not marketable, not ready, or just not good enough. In this case – Thales Leites was all three.

Leites was a midcarder at best, and it boggles my mind as to why some MMA experts picked him to win. Yeah he’s good, but he’s not even great! The problem for Silva is that this is his second joke fight in a row and was undoubtedly a borefest. It was so bad that I truly question UFC ever putting him in a main event again without having some kind of superstar on the undercard for support (Chuck was the guy this time, but he’s finished now). Also, while I don’t think UFC killed the town (Montreal), I think the only way UFC plans to do ANY sell-out business there again is with St. Pierre on top. Otherwise – don’t bother to book it. Luckily we’ve got a series of fun shows coming from May to August and there is very little chance that this will happen again.

GG

Show overall rating: Thumbs Down

Best Fight: Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Worst Fight: Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites

One good thing about hitting clean-up is that when everyone says everything I felt, I don’t have to say much. The guys were very thorough in their analysis of this card. I pointed out the possible issues with this card in the preview we did several days before the show. Every bout, with the exception of the main event, was a light heavyweight or heavyweight fight. No one was going to steal the show. While the effort in Wiman/Stout was great, I don’t think it was anything special, and since it was after the Liddell/Rua fight, I was kind of in a daze watching it anyways.

Yes, Silva should’ve tried to finish, but if he loses because he gets caught by Leites, the same people dissing him for not engaging would be dissing him for not fighting his fight. He wasn’t going to win here. Leites, as the challenger, needed to bring the fight, and he absolutely didn’t. You have a chance to become a star and you’re fine just falling to your back while the crowd boos. Nice job.

The show is all about Liddell for me. He’s the guy who made me a huge fan and it was hard for me to watch him go out that way. But it was really the one fight where guys were going for it. You can always count on Chuck for that. No matter what, the dude was going for all the marbles.

Based on our feedback, stay far away from this show.

4 thoughts on “UFC 97 – The Aftermath

  1. GG Post author

    In a sense you’re right. With a regular card, they won’t be able to draw without GSP. That’s why Chuck was there.

    But if you give them Brock and Frank Mir, I’m sure it will draw. It’s just that they don’t want to give away those fights because it wouldn’t make sense.

  2. Big D

    Yeah I’m sure super fights will draw, but I can’t see a fight card without some kind of Canadian hero like GSP or a Brock Lesnar drawing. I definitely don’t see Anderson Silva as a major PPV draw perhaps ever.

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