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12-25-2007, 10:11 PM
Status: mma isn't a sure thing
Join Date: Sep 2006
| | The Breakdown: Silva vs. Liddell
The Breakdown: Silva vs. Liddell |
By Michael DiSanto
Three things are certain on Saturday: the sun will set, the moon will rise, and Liddell-Silva will be decided on the feet.
Sure, Silva recently began studying under the expert eye of Andre Galvao, a renowned jiu-jitsu practitioner. But that is more about Silva learning how to deal with situations from his back, rather than how to take a fight to the ground and dominate from the top position.
He won’t need those skills against Liddell, a guy whose entire MMA world revolves around keeping the action standing and working to scramble back to his feet after suffering a rare takedown.
Suffice to say, Liddell isn’t going to take anyone down. He will stand and fire away on the feet until the bitter end.
By contrast, Silva has shown that he will do whatever it takes to try and secure victory, including shooting in for takedowns. Three years ago, he did just that against 275-lb former K-1 champion Mark Hunt in a special heavyweight attraction.
Liddell, however, is a vastly different fighter than Hunt on many levels. Liddell has vastly superior takedown defense. He is at least 50 lbs lighter when in prime fighting shape. And he doesn’t carry near the same concussive power. So, it made sense for Silva, who faced a 50-plus-pound weight deficit in that fight, to try and take the nascent ground fighting Hunt to the canvas early and often in their clash.
Besides, Silva’s takedown skills are not advanced enough to overcome Liddell’s elite takedown defense.
Accordingly, Liddell and Silva will engage primarily in a Muay Thai kickboxing contest at UFC 79.
That is good news for the fans because this should turn out to be an all-action, old-fashioned slugfest that ends definitively with one man lying on the Octagon floor.
The question is, what must each man do to avoid being the one who ends up unconscious?
Liddell’s main keys to victory are keeping the fight at a comfortable distance, constantly circling to create angles for his big right hand and looking for effective counter punching opportunities.
The “Iceman” stands with a bit of an unorthodox stance for a kickboxer, keeping his shoulders very square to his opponent most of the time. As a result, his natural tendency is to throw his punches with a bit of an arc, rather than right down the pipe.
Many so-called experts criticize that style of punching by calling them “looping shots,” which implies an arm punch thrown with less-than-optimal power. But Liddell happens to have long arms and very wide shoulders. Because he stands with such a square stance with those long arms, he needs to add a bit of an arc on his shots, far from what any true boxing cognoscenti would call “looping,” in order to generate maximum torque with his hips and transfer that torque into a knockout punch.
What that means is that Liddell needs space when throwing punches. He can establish that space by employing a quick, snapping jab right from the start while regularly circling out of harm’s way, preferably to his left.
Circling to his left helps keep Liddell in good position to throw strikes, unlike circling to his right, which forces him to reset his feet and hips before he can throw a truly effective right hand and which constantly places him out of position to really fire his jab with any authority while moving.
Circling to his left also creates excellent angles to land Liddell’s best weapon – his concussive right hand.
Liddell’s right hand is his bread and butter. He delivers it with malice aforethought each time he pulls the trigger. By circling to his left, Liddell positions himself on the outside of Silva’s left shoulder, which allows him to deliver the blow in his traditional slightly arcing manner without worrying about Silva blocking it with his left hand. If it lands anywhere near the jaw or temple, a knockout is almost sure to follow.
Lastly, Liddell is a natural counter puncher. He needs to remain patient and calm in the face of what likely will be a furious Silva attack so that he can effectively counter.
Liddell is not a volume striker. He does not overwhelm foes with the number of punches he throws in a round. Instead, he chooses his shots carefully, waiting for the opportunity to deliver shots with maximum effectiveness.
It is a study in efficiency that fits the 38-year-old well.
The best way for Liddell to create opportunities to counter is to jab effectively and circle. That will cause Silva to attack wildly out of frustration. When fighters attack Liddell wildly, he picks them apart with surgical precision until he can fire one of his scud missile right hands, which usually brings things to a brutal, painful end.
Silva’s main keys to victory are very different than those for Liddell. To maximize his odds at victory, Silva needs to close the distance and wage calculated, but very aggressive assaults.
Silva is a savage Muay Thai fighter. He loves to throw hands in order to work his way to the inside for a Thai clinch. Once there, Silva unloads knee strikes like nobody else in the UFC—all due respect to middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The “Axe Murderer” fires the knees with bad intentions, and if one happens to find his opponent’s jaw, it is lights out. Just ask reigning 205-lb champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who was twice knocked out from Silva knee barrages.
Liddell has been tested in virtually every position inside the Octagon, except by an expert Thai fighter who possesses devastating knees. Silva knows that. He knows that the position will be an unfamiliar one for the former UFC champion. If he can put Liddell there, then he is at a distinct advantage.
The other main focus for Silva on Saturday night should be fighting with controlled aggression. Liddell is a counter puncher, so he wants opponents to pressure him. But there is a difference between wild pressure and unrelenting, controlled pressure.
The former is a death sentence against Liddell. The latter may be the best way to beat him.
As mentioned above, Liddell needs space to punch with maximum power and effectiveness. He
also is at his best when he is able to circle to create prime punching angles. If Silva can put Liddell in a defensive frame of mind due to unrelenting, yet effective, pressure, then he will not be able to establish proper space or circle effectively.
Randy Couture applied unrelenting, yet effective pressure, in his first bout with Liddell. He constantly moved forward behind lead right hands and the threat of the takedown. The combination of the two made Liddell extremely defensive and, as a result, very ineffective. The end result was a TKO loss for the Iceman.
Keith Jardine applied the same sort of pressure, albeit in spurts, in Liddell’s most recent bout. Liddell responded by planting his feet and firing back wildly. Jardine capitalized by keeping his composure and scoring with accurate punches, winning by a close decision.
If Silva chooses his spots, slips a Liddell jab and then attacks with controlled fury, Liddell will do what comes natural in the face of an onslaught, which is plant his feet and swing wide for the fences. Silva is at his very best during those exchanges because it opens the door for him to close the distance by stepping inside Liddell’s punches.
What will ultimately unfold in the Octagon on Saturday night remains to be seen, though whatever unfolds will assuredly unfold on the feet.
The long-awaited clash will begin with each man walking to the ring while his music of choice blares through the sophisticated sound system in the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Silva will likely enter first, either to a custom-written song by a Brazilian hip hop group or possibly a song more familiar to fans in attendance. He will march to the ring with the blank, focused stare of an executioner.
The anticipation will start to build for the fans in attendance, many of whom have never seen the Axe Murderer fight in person, but are intimately familiar with his conquests overseas and his famous pre-fight prediction, “I promise violence.”
Liddell will likely enter to the all-too-familiar DMX song “Intro” . The Iceman will enter the arena looking as if he doesn’t have a care in the world, bouncing to the beat with a smile on his face as if he is in a Las Vegas nightclub. The crowd will explode into white noise, elevating the anticipation in the air to palpable levels.
Each man will stay loose as they wait anxiously on their respective half of the cage. Bruce Buffer will boom, “It’s Time…” like only he can do.
Then, they will take the center of the Octagon. Liddell will adopt either a slight smirk or a cold stare as he stands opposed from his foe. Silva will bounce back and forth on his heels like a starving caged tiger face with his first meal in weeks. His eyes will never leave Liddell’s, searching for even the slightest bit of weakness as he prepares for what he views as an all-out-war.
Finally, the bell will sound, and we will find out who was the greatest light heavyweight of the past decade.
i think this is going to be decided by mistakes. whoever makes the first mistake is going to lose. there's literally zero room for error between these two.
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