UFC 117 Silva vs. Sonnen weigh-ins in Oakland, main card preview

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Friday, August 6, 2010 - Save & Share - One Comment

UFC 117 Oakland weigh-in Anderson Silva Chael Sonnen

UFC 117 Oakland weigh-in Junior Dos Santos

UFC 117 Oakland weigh-in Jon Fitch Thiago Alves missed weight 20% show purse

UFC 117 Oakland weigh-in Jon Fitch

UFC 117 Silva vs. Sonnen is a reclamation project of sorts. The USA Today/SB Nation consensus #1 ranked Middleweight and Sherdog’s #1 ranked pound-for-pound mixed martial arts athlete, Anderson Silva, is looking to rebound from one of the most embarassing performances in the history of the sport.

The longest tenured UFC Champion outclassed a game Damian Maia at the inaugural UFC 112 event in Abu Dhabi, but completely lost his mental focus and proceeded to dance around the cage in the later rounds. Silva tapped the mat with his gloves, stuck out his chin, pounded on his chest and asked Maia to hit him, embarassing himself in front of a global audience. UFC president Dana White was so upset by the performance, he did not remain cageside for the full fight and for the first time asked a fighter’s corner to hand out the championship belt.

If it was Anderson Silva’s intention to change hearts and minds in the leadup to UFC 117 in Oakland, it has not been successful. Instead the media buildup and hype has centered around the borderline insane rants of former Oregon wrestler Chael Sonnen. Sonnen has jostled a sleeping mainstream media into paying attention for this main event. Sonnen has touched on apropos subjects, citing Silva’s failure to engage by calling him anti-UFC, he has said he will take Silva down to the mat and blow a hole through his head, and he has said that he is going to retire Silva. Then there is the straight bizarre. Chael Sonnen veered off into intricate racial insults based on Silva’s Brazilian heritage, the Portuguese language itself, homophobic insinuations about Silva’s pink t-shirts and earrings (Anderson Silva subsequently wore a pink sweater to the pre-fight press conference), and an unhinged remark made and then denied about Lance Armstrong taking drugs and giving himself cancer.

He finished with a question at the pre-fight press conference when asked about how he felt in the leadup to the fight. “I am sick, tired, under the weather, overtrained, under motivated, and still tough enough to beat this guy,” Sonnen said to a laughing crowd. It is has been par for the course for the largest heel in MMA.

What Chael Sonnen’s rants have done is distract from the mandate Anderson Silva was given by UFC president Dana White. After his performance against Maia at UFC 112, White said he would cut Silva if he did it again. When asked about that statement after the 117 weigh-ins, Dana White walked backed the remarks. “It wasn’t about (having a bad performance), lots of guys are going to have a night where they are not going to have a good performance. It is not about that,” White told MMA Weekly. “It is about acting like a lunatic. If he goes out and acts like a nut, like he did that night, yes I would cut him.” Then White responded to Chael Sonnen’s quote that Silva would be cut just by losing. “He is pound for pound the best fighter in the world, he loses one fight in 3 years and I am going to cut him? No,” White responded.

That is a lot to wade through, but Silva-Sonnen may not even be the most compelling or second most compelling fight of the night. #6 USA Today/SB Nation ranked heavyweight contender Junior dos Santos will meet former IFL heavyweight champion and The Ultimate Fighter season 10 reality show winner Roy “Big Country” Jones in a fight with title implications. The UFC Heavyweight title picture is back front and center after Brock Lesnar retured from a life threatening injury, then picked himself off the mat for a come-from-behind win over Shane Carwin. Quickly vaulted to the top of the heavyweight rankings, Lesnar will have to run the gauntlet of Carwin, Cain Velasquez and JDS to begin to approach the tenure of the #1 ranked heavyweight that preceeded him, Fedor Emelianenko.

Junior dos Santos is looking to build on a 6-fight winning streak, 5 of those coming in the UFC (including knockout of the nights against Gabriel Gonzaga and Fabricio Werdum). JDS is a well rounded competitor, can push fighters the distance, and he has heavy power and pinpoint accuracy in both hands. Many are targeting San Jose based Cain Velasquez as the heavyweight with the best chance to upset Brock Lesnar. Velasquez will meet Lesnar at UFC 121 October 23rd, 2010 in Anaheim. Junior dos Santos can make a statement on his rightful place in the heavyweight proceedings, and earn the UFC heavyweight #1 contender spot with a win over BJJ black belt Roy Nelson.

San Jose’s Jon Fitch has earned four straight unanimous decision wins after losing to UFC Welterweight title hodler George St. Pierre in August of 2008. The USA Today/SB Nation #2 ranked Welterweight Jon Fitch will meet the #3 ranked Thiago Alves in the co-main event at UFC 117 in Oakland. Both having lost to GSP, the winner Saturday night will earn a rematch and a shot at the title. The Fitch-Alves meeting was delayed after Alves was diagnosed with an unusal formation of blood vessels in his brain that turned up in a routine pre-fight cat scan. According to the UFC preview show, it was likely there since birth. Alves had a successful procedure to remove the problem, but his historical problems with cutting weight surfaced again. He missed Friday’s 171 pound weight limit by a half a pound. Alves declined to drop the final weight and opted instead to forfeit 20% of his show purse to Fitch as a result.

“It is going to be a lot of pressure, tight technically, checking leg kicks,” Fitch told Sherdog’s Greg Savage when asked to preview the fight in a recent video interview. “It is pretty obvious what I need to do with him, it is just a matter of getting it done.” Fitch dominated the action en route to a 2nd round TKO over Alves at UFC’s Ultimate Fight Night 5 in June 2006. “I am comfortable fighting anywhere, but I let the fight dictate itself,” he said of the sequel.

Savage also asked about the possibility of fighting American Kickboxing Academy San Jose teammate Josh Koshcheck, should Koshcheck defeat GSP in their meeting rumored to be in December. “If Josh Koshcheck wins and defends, then I will go up to 185,” Fitch said. He noted that a Koshcheck win would amost certainly result in an instant rematch. In the interim 8-10 months, Fitch said there are still competitive matches for him at 170 including the impressive Dane Martin Kampmann, former WEC Welterweight champ Carlos Condit, and Dan Hardy. “If (Koshcheck) wins and defends, I will have fought everyone at 170 and would still move up,” Fitch said.

First he will have his hands full with Thiago Alves Saturday night in Oakland.

[Update] Full-size Jon Fitch black and white photo is available here. Bonus weigh-in photo #1: Fitch-nation invades Raider-nation. Bonus weigh-in photo #2: UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste.

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One Response to “UFC 117 Silva vs. Sonnen weigh-ins in Oakland, main card preview”

Pingback from Diaz-Noons II, Welterweight champ Sarah Kaufman, Josh Thomson vs. J.Z. Cavalcante look to join a spirited 2010 for MMA in Northern California | SHARKSPAGE
Time October 7, 2010 at 5:29 PM

[...] 2010 will be a year for the record books with regards to mixed martial arts in Northern California. Fabrico Werdum’s stunning 69 second submission of Fedor Emelianenko in June not only realigned the heavyweight divisions of Strikeforce and the UFC, but it also upset the nearly 10 year reign of dominance for “The Last Emporer” atop the sport. Less than 2 months later the UFC made their first forray into the bay area with UFC 117. [...]