The UFC is filling up their cards for the first quarter of 2009. It looks like UFC 97 will feature a bout between David Loiseau and Ed Herman. Loiseau was a former number 1 contender who was dropped by the UFC, but has fought his way back. Ed Herman has had a rough time in the octagon, but has been off and on since being the Ultimate Fighter 3 runner up. Herman lost a very close decision to Alan Belcher that many feel Herman won.
MMAbay first reported that Loiseau would make his return at UFC 97. Following that report I put Loiseau on my upcoming events page against a yet to be named opponent. Also, MMAblog had an article titled, “Could the New Year Bring New Faces Into the UFC?” In which I listed Loiseau as one of the four middleweights I expected to be added to the UFC in 2009. I said in that article, “he may be added to the next Canda card.” It looks like that was correct. Bookmark that article as it may surprise some how accurate those predictions are.
I have been confused lately by Joe Silva and Dana White’s decisions and matchh making for middeweight champ Anderson Silva. Dana has been quick to proclaim Silva as the best pound for pound fighter in the world. I don’t disagree with that statement, however I do not think he is defending his belt against the number 1 contenders.
Case 1 – It was proclaimed that when Patrick Cote met Ricardo Almeida that the winner would get a title shot. Many were confused by this as neither seemed like the number one contender. They may have been able to climb the ladder, but they were not there yet. Silva showed he was in a different league than Cote by toying with him.
Case 2- Travis Lutter. I understand the Ultimate Fighter winner getting a title shot, but Lutter jumped tons of guys for a title shot. He missed weight and then got submitted.
Case 3 – Thales Leites. I know Leites is good. He is superb on the ground. He owns a win over Nathan Marquardt. However, that win is controversial. I have Leites ranked 8. I understand that the 6 guys between Anderson and Leites may not be able to beat Silva. I also understand that he has already fought many of them including Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, and Nate Marquardt.
Well, if not Leites then who? I understand not giving a re-match to Henderson or Marquardt yet. They may get their shots. Henderson is slated to fight Rich Franklin in January and Marquardt appears to be fighting Wilson Gouveia in February. The winners inch closer to a re-match. That moves Henderson and Marquardt off the map for now. Rich Franklin is now at 205 it seems, plus he got destroyed by Silva twice. Michael Bisping is nearing number one contender status, but he will coach the Ultimate Fighter season 9 opposite the Henderson/Franklin winner. The two TUF coaches would then square off for the title shot. That takes Bisping out for now.
That leaves two guys between Silva and Leites: Demian Maia and Yushin Okami. Both of these guys are more deserving than Leites. I suppose that the UFC in their looking for the next opponent for Silva was left with three names as I am: Maia, Leites, and Okami. Let’s check out their respective resumes and see who should have gotten the “job”.
Demian Maia – Maia is 9-0 overall and 4-0 in the UFC. He has looked very, very impressive. He has 4 submissions wins. He has UFC wins over Nate Quarry, Ed Herman and Jason MacDonald. He has earned the reputation of having the best functional jiu jitsu for MMA. Most everyone agrees that Silva’s achilles heel may be a jiu jitsu practitioner of very high calibur.
Yushin Okami – Okami is 6-1 in the UFC and 22-4 overall. He has UFC wins over Evan Tanner, Jason MacDonald, Mike Swick, and Alan Belcher. His sole UFC loss came to Rich Franklin. He was slated to have a title shot before an injury allowed Cote to step in and take it. Okami is set to face Dean Lister at UFC 92. A win would make him the clear number one contender in most rankings. Oh yeah, did I mention that Okami has a win on his record over Anderson Silva. I know it was a DQ win, but it is a win.
Thales Leites – is 14-1 overall and 5-1 in the UFC. His UFC wins come over Pete Sell, Floyd Sword, Ryan Jensen, Nate Marquardt and Drew McFedries. He does have good ground skills and has finished 3 fights by submission.
Breaking it down: Based on resumes alone Okami would get the job. The runner-up would be Maia and the one left looking in would be Leites.
So…why not Okami? The answer is I have no flippin clue. I can appreciate his upcoming bout with Lister. However, what does the UFC do with Okami if he beats Lister? If he looses then it settles it. The UFC should have waited a week to book Silva’s April opponent. If Okami had won he should have gotten the shot. Okami was excluded because they do not see him as marketable. The problem with that is that Leites is not Mister Personality. I have no problem suggesting Maia is one or two wins away. He does have better quality wins than Leites though.
Here is my problem. Leites is on a 5 fight win streak. He will get a title shot coming off of a win to Drew McFedries. Come on. Make a dude fight someone good for the title shot. Before that Leites scored a win over Nate Marquardt, but Marquardt won that fight. He only won because Nate lost two points in the contest and Leites still only won by split decision.
I am not anti-Leites. He is a good fighter. He may pose serious problems to Silva. However, this is not the fight I want to see. Leites is not ready. Okami has earned his shot and further seals it with a win Saturday. Maia should be at least considered.
In what appears to be a headline bout at what may be called UFC 97, UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva will defend his belt against fellow Brazilian Thales Leites.
Silva has gone 8-0 in the UFC and is coming off of what many thought was a disappointing win over Patrick Cote. Thales Leites is 5-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a quick submission win over Drew McFedries.
The bout is not a surprise as Dana White threw out Leites’ name in a recent interview. However, he does seem to have leap frogged several notable contenders. Nevertheless, Leites who has slick submissions will be a threat to Silva.
UFC 97 appears to be taking place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on April 18th. This will leave room for speculation that if Georges St. Pierre is successful against B.J. Penn that he will defend his belt at this event against Thiago Alves. Perhaps this is the UFC way of setting up the mega fight between Silva and St. Pierre.