The UFC is coming to the Bay Area for the first time on Aug. 7, and its bringing some blockbuster mixed martial arts with it. The event will be held at the Oracle Arena in Oakland and has some important fights for the organization planned.
UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen features middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva (26-4) defending his title against NCAA Division I All-American wrestler and U.S. Olympic team alternate Chael Sonnen (24-10-1) in the main event.
Silva is widely regarded as one of the, if not the, best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. He's defended his title six times, a UFC record, and will look to make it seven with a win over Sonnen on Saturday. Silva's last defense at UFC 112 saw him earn the ire of his boss, UFC President Dana White. He spent five rounds literally dancing and yelling at his opponent, Demian Maia, making a mockery of the fighter he greatly outclassed in stand-up competition and, in White's eyes, a mockery of the sport.
There was public outcry from many fans, but either way you look at it, Silva dominated Maia and hasn't looked uncomfortable in a fight since March 2008 in a submission victory over Olympic wrestler and former PRIDE champion Dan Henderson. Sonnen has done a wonderful job thus far selling the fight and convincing everyone that this won't be another Silva beatdown.
Sonnen's statement, "He's the champion, but I am the best," has done wonders to get people to buy this pay-per-view, after doubts that people would pay for a Silva-headlined event after his mockery at 112. People will buy the fight because they like Silva, but I'd wager even more will buy the fight because they want to see someone "beat a hole in his face."
In co-main event action, we've got a Bay Area-based fighter in Jon Fitch (22-3, 1 NC) in a rematch from 2006 against Brazilian Thiago "Pitbull" Alves (16-6). This fight could be considered a title eliminator in the welterweight division. Both guys have fought and lost to current welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, but they're both looking to climb back up the ladder. The champ already has a bout lined up with California-based Josh Koscheck, and Alves' last fight is a loss to St-Pierre, but this mostly grudge match should be a good one regardless.
In other main card action, Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (26-11) takes on Rafael dos Anjos (14-4) in a lightweight bout, Matt Hughes (44-7) squares off with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace Ricardo "Big Dog" Almeida (12-3) in another welterweight contest and then the big guys get out there in a heavyweight matchup between Ultimate Fighter Season 10 winner Roy "Big Country" Nelson (15-4) and exciting up-and-comer Junior "Cigano" dos Santos (11-1).
The Nelson-dos Santos fight should be explosive, and will determine the next heavyweight title challenger to either Brock Lesnar or Cain Velasquez, who meet at UFC 121. The Hughes-Almeida fight has pseudo grudge match written all over it as Matt Hughes recently beat Almeida's trainer, Renzo Gracie at UFC 112.
Some are calling this event UFC 117: USA vs. Brazil as the fight's main card is entirely made up of USA-born fighters versus Brazilian-born fighters.
Throughout the week, I will be posting previews for each fight, including the undercard, so stay tuned. On the day of, SB Nation Bay Area will have live updates for each match-up as well as links to BloodyElbow.com's round-by-round commentary and scoring. UFC 117: Silva vs Sonnen airs live on pay-per-view.
The Full Card
Anderson Silva defends middleweight championship against Chael Sonnen
Jon Fitch versus Thiago Alves
Clay Guida versus Rafael dos Anjos
Matt Hughes versus Ricardo Almeida
Roy Nelson versus Junior dos Santos
Dustin Hazelett versus Rick Story
Phil Davis versus Rodney Wallace
Tim Boetsch versus Todd Brown
Johny Hendricks versus Charlie Brenneman
Stefan Struve versus Christian Morecraft
Ben Saunders versus Dennis Hallman