This Saturday Night: UFC on FUEL – Silva vs Stann


diego_sanchez_cross-610x341It’s been 6 ½ years since Wanderlei Silva last fought in Japan. In the same city as tomorrow night’s UFC event, Silva was KO’d by Mirko Cro Cop in the semi-finals of the PRIDE open weight grand prix. Since that fight, he’s lost six out of nine fights. The only fighters he’s defeated in that run have been Keith Jardine, Michael Bisping, and Cung Le. Silva is one of the all-time greats, a future first ballot MMA Hall of Famer, and all-time favorite of MMA fans. But everything has to come to an end, and I think if Brian Stann KO’s him tomorrow night, he should seriously consider calling it a career. Stann isn’t the best fighter around. We saw what Bisping and Sonnen did to him recently. But he has power and he’s become a better striker after he worked with Mike Winkeljohn. It’s true to point out that Silva still has some finishing power (he almost KO’d Franklin last Summer), but I think at this point I’m assuming it’s going to be Brian Stann with his hand raised at the end of the night.

It’s a bizzare thought to consider, but Stefan Struve or Mark Hunt can seriously be fighting for the UFC heavyweight title in the near future. With a win, Struve would be riding on a five fight win streak. For Hunt, it would be a four fight win streak with the victory against Struve. There is something very PRIDE-esque about this fight, and I’m actually very excited to see what happens. I wouldn’t be shocked either way if we see a Struve submission or a Hunt KO.

The third big fight of the evening will feature Diego Sanchez taking on former PRIDE lightweight kingpin Takanori Gomi. The nature of combat sports, following fighters from their start to their end really captures how much time has passed in your life. Like people remember the days when Wanderlei Silva was one of the most feared men on the planet, I remember a day when Sanchez was a young prospect climbing his way to a title shot against Matt Hughes. The days when Sanchez ran through the TUF house don’t seem like that long ago. I remember sitting in my house, watching TUF after Monday Night Raw, and seeing this weird kid from New Mexico make it to the TUF finals. The three-way rivalry between Sanchez, Nick Diaz, and Karo Parisyan produced what I truly consider to be the most exciting UFC fights of that era. In a way, it doesn’t feel like that long ago. But once you start thinking about the landscape of MMA today and how old I am now, it really occurs to you that the one thing you can’t stop is time. Takanori Gomi has probably felt that much worse than most fighters. After the PRIDE lightweight grand prix, he was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. He was the reigning PRIDE lightweight champion in a period where PRIDE had some great lightweight talent (the deepest pool of lightweight talent in MMA history at the time). Now he’s in the UFC with a 3-3 record, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that his job can very well be on the line tomorrow night. Let’s just hope that tomorrow night, both Sanchez and Gomi will remind us that they were at one point two of the most exciting fighters on the planet.


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