Octagonside by Andreas Hale, photos by Ed Mulholland
In the main event of UFC 97, middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva soundly defeated challenger Thales Leites after five uneventful and bizarre rounds, via unanimous decision. The opening round saw almost no action until the final minute when Silva swept Leites to the mat. Round two was controlled by the challenger Leites after he scored a quick takedown and controlled Silva from the top position. Round three was full of frustration for both champion and challenger as neither Leites nor Silva could muster any effective offense. Round four was one of the most bizarre in recent memory as Silva spent the larger portion of the round dancing and taunting his opponent as well as throwing punches to the legs of Leites. The final round saw Silva continue to avoid damage until the final bell sounded. Judges’ scorecards read 49-46, 48-47 and 50-46
In the main co-feature of the evening former PrideFC standout Mauricio “Shogun” Rua returned to championship form by knocking out “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell with a left hook to the chin at 4:28 of the opening round. Though Rua finished the fight with strikes on the ground, Liddell was stiffened before he hit the floor.
In a 155 lb. contest Sam Stout scored a unanimous decision over Matt Wiman after three competitive rounds. Judges’ scorecards all were the same, 29-28 in favor of Stout.
Light heavyweight Krzysztof Soszynski submitted Marine Captain Brian Stann in the opening round with a wrenching kimura shoulder lock. The official time was 3:53.
In a heavyweight kickboxing superfight, Cheick Kongo stopped Antoni Hardonk in the second round with brutal strikes from the top position. The official time of the stoppage was 2:29.
Light heavyweight contender Luiz Cane defeated former WEC champion Steve Cantwell via unanimous decision in a bout that was fought entirely on the feet. Judges’ scorecards read 29-28 and 30-27 twice.
Middleweight Denis Kang was awarded a three round unanimous decision over Xavier Foupa-Pokam. All three judges scored the bout 30-27 in favor of Kang.
Nate Quarry wasted no time impressively stopping Jason MacDonald at 2:27 of the first round with vicious ground n’ pound from the top position.
Middleweight Ed “Short Fuse” Herman earned a dominant unanimous decision victory over long time veteran David “The Crow” Loiseau, scorecards read 30-27 twice and 30-26.
Canadian Mark Bocek submitted Daniel Bielkheden at 4:57 of the first round with a rear naked choke.
Welterweight TJ Grant outworked PrideFC veteran Ryo Chonan over three rounds en route to a split decision victory. Scorecards read 29-28 in favor of Chonan and 30-27, 29-28 in favor of Grant.
In a battle of reality television veterans, light heavyweight Eliot Marshall defeated Vinny Malgalhaes via unanimous decision. Scores read 30-27 and 29-28 twice.
Stay tuned for full photo gallery and ringside report tomorrow!