The middleweight title fight at UFC 117 between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen will be accentuated by one of the most stacked cards in UFC history. The main card features the long-awaited rematch between welterweight contenders Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves, as well as such notable fighters such as recent UFC Hall of Fame inductee Matt Hughes, the electrifying Clay Guida, and a heavyweight matchup between two fast rising stars in the division Roy Nelson and Junior Dos Santos. With all of the intriguing fights lined up on the fight card, the championship ramifications in the main event will add the icing to the cake.
The undercard bouts feature the following matchups: Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves, Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almeida, Clay Guida vs. Rafael Dos Anjos, Roy Nelson vs. Junior Dos Santos, Thiago Silva vs. Tim Boetsch, Dustin Hazelett vs. Rick Story, Stefan Struve vs. Christian Morecraft, Johny Hendricks vs. Charlie Brenneman, Ben Saunders vs. Dennis Hallman, and Rodney Wallace vs. Stanislav Nedkov.
UFC 117 is available live on Pay-Per-View at 10pm ET/7pm PT on iN DEMAND, DIRECTV, DISH Network, TVN, BellTV, Shaw Communications, Sasktel, and Viewer’s Choice Canada for a suggested retail price of $44.99 US/$49.99 CAN for standard definition or high-definition broadcasts (where available).
The co-main event of UFC 117 will be a showdown to elevate one fighter to the top of contention for the welterweight championship. UFC veteran Jon Fitch (fighting out of San Jose, Calif./ profesional record – 25-3, 1 NC) has had a remarkable career in the organization. One of the division’s most consistent fighters, Fitch has won four fights in a row and has an overall record of 12-1 in the UFC. His lone loss came at the hands of welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre via unanimous decision at UFC 87. The durable fighter from Indiana wrestled collegiately at Purdue University and has the endurance to battle until the end. This decisive battle will be a long awaited rematch as Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves (fighting out of Coconut Creek, Fla./22-5) aims to seek revenge on Fitch. The 26-year old fighter has elevated himself to the top of the division by winning nine of his last eleven fights in the UFC. Alves believes he has improved as a fighter more than Fitch has since their last fight in 2006, which he hopes will lead him to victory. The ramifications of this fight extend beyond a statistic on their career record.
The “swing” bout of the evening is an early favorite to garner Fight of the Night honors. The always-exciting Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M. by way of Johnsburg, Ill./26-8) is renowned for his memorable battles in the Octagon. Coming off a submission victory over Shannon Gugerty, Guida has won four of his last six fights. The former collegiate wrestler is set to lock up with the winner of three fights in a row, Rafael Dos Anjos (fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil/14-4). The Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion has entered the Octagon twice already in 2010, most recently for UFC 112 when he was able to submit Terry Etim with an armbar at the end of the second round. The young fighter has only had five fights in the UFC, but is steadily climbing the ladder in the lightweight division.
The context of the first welterweight matchup on the main card extends beyond a typical fight, as honor and history are on the line. Recent UFC Hall of Fame inductee Matt Hughes (fighting out of Hillsboro, Ill./45-7) is a legend of the UFC, with 22 fights and a UFC record 17 victories. The two-time UFC welterweight champion has defeated future champions in Georges St-Pierre and BJ Penn, but in the context of this fight, Hughes has defeated Royce Gracie, Matt Serra and Renzo Gracie. Both Serra and Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida (fighting out of Hamilton, N.J./12-3) are coached by the legendary Renzo Gracie, which sets up the opportunity for Almeida to defend the honor of the Gracie clan. Almeida is on a three fight win streak and a winner of five of his last seven. The four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu National Champion not only has his own reputation to defend, but the reputation of an entire legendary MMA family.
The Ultimate Fighter® Heavyweights Finale winner Roy Nelson (fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev./16-4) has only two UFC fights under his belt, but has scored a first-round knockout in both of them. A grappler with world-class experience and a black belt under Renzo Gracie, he has quickly elevated himself as a worthy heavyweight contender. His matchup with Junior Dos Santos (fighting out of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil/11-1) provides a glimpse into the exciting future of the heavyweight division. Dos Santos has been victorious in his five fights within the organization by way of four knockouts, and a submission victory over Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 103. The Brazilian native’s boxing and jiu-jitsu background have helped establish Dos Santos as a legitimate contender for the heavyweight title.
Thiago Silva (fighting out of Sao Paulo, Brazil/14-2) started his UFC career with a bang, winning his first four fights (three by TKO), dating back to UFC 71 in 2007. He has since battled the elite fighters in the light heavyweight division, including former champions Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. His latest opponent, Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch (fighting out of Lincolnville, Maine/11-3), makes a return to the UFC after a short hiatus. Previously, Boetsch had four fights in the UFC, establishing a record of 2-2.
Of the five victories that Dustin Hazelett (fighting out of Cincinnati, Ohio/14-5) has obtained in the UFC, four have come via submission. The submission specialist has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and hopes to secure a win over Rick Story (fighting out of Vancouver, Wash./10-3).The young fighter out of Washington has been on a roll lately, winning his last three fights. Story’s supreme conditioning is exemplified by the fact three of his four fights have gone all three rounds.
In one of the tallest matchups in recent UFC history, the 6’11” Stefan Struve (fighting out of Beverwijk, Netherlands/23-4) is set to face the 6’5 ½ Christian Morecraft (fighting out of Plymouth, Mass./6-0). Known for his height and length, the 22-year-old Struve has utilized his skills in kickboxing and submissions to secure three wins in his five fights in the UFC. Morecraft is making his UFC debut after establishing a solid professional record.
Two-time NCAA Division I national wrestling champion Johny Hendricks (fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev./8-0) has split time between the UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting®(WEC®). After winning his first two fights in the WEC, Hendricks made a smooth transition to the UFC and continued his winning ways through his first three fights. His opponent, Charlie Brenneman (fighting out of Whippany, N.J. by way of Hollidaysburg, Pa./12-1), improved his already solid professional record after winning his UFC debut against Jason High last March at UFC Fight Night Live®. Also a former Division I wrestler, this matchup could very well be decided on the ground.
Welterweight striker Ben Saunders (fighting out of Orlando, Fla./8-2-2) has been successful in his UFC career thus far. The aggressive fighter has won four of his six fights, and is the only man to knock out veteran contender Marcus Davis. Although Saunders has had a relatively short fighting career, his opponent Dennis Hallman (fighting out of Yelm, Wash./64-13-2, 1 NC) has had 80 professional fights. Hallman made a return to the UFC at The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights Finale in December of 2009 after a four year hiatus. The gritty fighter has the experience and knowledge required to secure a longer stay in the UFC.
The opening fight for UFC 117 features two up-and-coming light heavyweights. Rodney Wallace (fighting out of Charlotte, N.C./9-2) made his debut against Brian Stann at The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights Finale and has since fought Jared Hamman at UFC 111. On August 7th, Wallace is seeking his first victory in the UFC against Stanislav Nedkov (fighting out of Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria/11-0). Nedkov is an impressive light heavyweight fighter with a background in wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, who is making his UFC debut at UFC 117.
For more information, or current UFC fight news, visit UFC.com. All bouts live and subject to change.
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