Tap Selections - UFC 79: Nemesis

Here are our predictions for tonight’s UFC 79: Nemesis, which will take place live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The PPV broadcast will begin at 10 PM EST.

Our usual picks are included along with thoughts from some members of the MMA media on what just might be the most anticipated fight in history when Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva finally clash.

MMA on Tap’s newest member, Jamie Fitzgerald, receives a little intro after the jump.

David and I were also included in Rogers Sportsnet’s media panel for UFC 79. Be sure to check it out.

Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports: Liddell by TKO in the second round. I can just as easily see Silva winning this by TKO, but Liddell is a great counter puncher and Silva figures to attack. I’ll say that adds up to an Iceman win by stoppage.

Pramit Mohapatra, Baltimore Sun: Over at SI.com, I’m predicting Silva by third-round TKO. But, the reality is this fight could go either way and I think the betting line accurately reflects this. While both fighters like to stand up, they offer contrasting styles. Silva likes to push the pace, get in close, and finish with knees. Liddell likes to stand back, counter-strike, and work from distance. Both have shown their mortality over the last year. But, I’m giving Silva the edge because he was more impressive in his losses, he’s got more weapons, and I believe he is the hungrier fighter. However, urgency may be Liddell’s best asset—a loss at UFC 79 hurts Liddell a whole lot more than it hurts Silva.

James Brydon, Rogers Sportsnet: I think Chuck Liddell still has some left. Two losses in a row doesn’t equal washed up. Chuck came in to the Jardine fight with either a bad game plan or he took Keith lightly, or both, and it cost him. I don’t see Liddell doing that here. The Iceman by TKO.

R.J. Broadhead, Rogers Sportsnet: Liddell by TKO in the first round… Chuck is in a situation where he needs to win to revive his career and he’s easily motivated to fight Silva.

Ryan Harkness, Fightlinker: Chuck Liddell is going to tool Wanderlei Silva. People keep saying Chuck lost to Keithth Jardine. Truth is, Keith wasn’t trying to win the fight, he was trying to win on the judge’s scorecards. If the fight had kept going, Liddell would have eventually cornered him and knocked him the fuck out. There’s no way Silva is going to employ such a homo gameplan. And so what if he’s training with Randy Couture? Chuck knocked Randy out twice. Randy’s tactics don’t work on Chuck.

Luke Thomas, Bloody Elbow: Ultimately the style match-up favors Liddell. The Iceman can use his nimble in-ring positioning, long arms and heavy hands to extend punches into Wanderlei’s range without absorbing reciprocal punishment. But I’m not convinced Wanderlei’s going to get caught. Silva is training like a mad man (snorkel, anyone?) with all the focus and intensity this fight deserves while Liddell has seemingly gone back to the same old well. Liddell counters that no one criticized his training methods and partying habits when he was winning, so what’s the difference now? The difference is that Liddell is losing, aging, and is in deep trouble of having those with the hunger for more pass him by with their pre-fight preparation. Provided Silva has a decent gameplan that involves lots of kicks to slow Liddell down, control his timing, and keep him at a distance, The Axe Murderer can assuredly win. And no, this fight will not be won in the clinch. Silva wants this fight more and will do more to earn it. Silva, TKO, round 2.

Kid Nate, Bloody Elbow: This fight on the other hand is very hard to call. Like Luke said, Chuck’s skill-set—featuring sharp straight punches timed to target an incoming opponent—should be just deadly to Wanderlei. On the other hand, if Wanderlei makes shrewd use of leg kicks and the clinch, he might have a formula to beat the Iceman. I’m going to have to go with Chuck here, he’s always spoiled my fun and Wanderlei has always disappointed in the UFC. Liddell by KO in 2.

Michael Rome, Bloody Elbow: I think this fight will be the end for Chuck, sadly.  His strategy of sitting back and waiting for the right hand to land is not enough anymore.  Like a great hitter in a slump, the right hand was just gone against Jardine, and unless he can find it early he’s in huge trouble.  I see this ending in the second round, KO for Silva.

Jeff Comstock, Bloody Elbow: I’ve always imagined that Liddell’s punching power and size would prove to be too much for Wanderlei. Silva’s aggressive style plays into Chuck’s strengths and unless he uses a game plan similar to what Jardine used to defeat Chuck, Wanderlei will walk into a big punch. Liddell via KO in round 2.

Nick Thomas, Bloody Elbow: Wanderlei Silva - forcing Chuck to contemplate retirement after this fight.

Brent Brookhouse, Bloody Elbow: I can’t help it, I have a soft spot for Wanderlei.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Silva comes in with a solid gameplan and works the clinch for the first round before eventually catching Chuck with a knee to the chin that ends The Iceman’s night.

Scott White, TKO Xtreme: Finally, the fight we’ve been waiting years for! If you had have asked me to predict this fight 2-3 years ago, I would have quickly told you I thought Liddell would prevail the victor but now that’s not the case. Both fighters are coming off of two losses and it’s do or die. Wanderlei looks to have rededicated himself by bringing in new coaches, training partners and moving to the USA. I think the new scenery has relit Wanderlei’s fire and come Saturday night “The Iceman” will drop his third straight fight. With that being said, Wanderlei has to be smart, if he gets too wild Chuck will put his hands on him and that could spell disaster for the former PRIDE champ.

Ariel Helwani, Jarry Park: This is the epitome of a toss-up but I favor Silva for two reasons:
1. He has been training with Xtreme Couture lately and everyone associated with them seems to be winning nowadays.
2. His loss to Hendo was over a year ago. He has moved on. Liddell still hasn’t gotten over his loss to Rampage. Let alone Jardine.

Leland Rolling, MMA-Analyst: This is a plain and simple breakdown for any fan to understand. Chuck Liddell is the counter puncher… the man who hangs back while his opponent comes in for the kill only to find himself on the mat a split second later. Wanderlei Silva is the punishing striker who instills fear into many of his opponents through his brutally aggressive striking skills and Muay Thai clinch abilities. Pitting these types of styles together not only creates a nuclear warhead, but the fight that ensues will create the nuclear explosion. There is without a doubt that this fight will end with one fighter being beaten into unconsciousness.
After years of waiting for this fight, I’m going to have to pick Wanderlei Silva for a number of reasons. First, Silva’s power is nearly unmatched at the light heavyweight level. He has barbaric arms that have crushed opposition for years. His striking is fairly quick and the combination of his clinch and knees is devastating to any opponent. Secondly, his training for this fight as documented by All Access was clearly different than some of the things he’s done in the past. Simulating the lactic acid in the body toward the end of the fight is a brilliant move by his trainers to extend his cardio to the next level.

Look for Wanderlei to be in much better physical shape for this fight and have a steady gas tank as well that will hopefully stop him from looping his punches later in the fight. Lastly, Chuck Liddell just hasn’t impressed me in his last few fights. Wanderlei seems to be training much harder, and it looks as though Chuck may be in for a rude awakening that may cause him to contemplate actually retiring from the sport. Wanderlei Silva via second round KO.

David M. Singer, MMA on Tap: While both are coming off back-to-back losses, Liddell’s fighting career seems like it could be up against a wall, a comfortable spot for the counter-puncher to be in compared to most.  Silva will be a very tough opponent, coming at Liddell non-stop.  Liddell takes this before the half-way mark.

Bill Reger, MMA on Tap: Years in the making and I for one still can’t wait to see it.  Honestly, I’ve always been so impressed with Silva’s aggression and warrior attitude, how could I not love watching the man do battle.  But its that very aggression that puts him at such huge risk against the deadliest counterpuncher in MMA’s short history, Chuck Liddell.  People expect a war here and I have no doubt we will see one.  But with the power each possesses, I just don’t think this will last very long.  Some may feel it will be anti-climatic if this one ends in one round, but that’s what can happen if one of these legends lands that bomb.  Expect fireworks, but don’t blink as this one may not last long.  Liddell by TKO/KO halfway through the first round.

Jamie Fitzgerald, MMA on Tap: This is as close to a coin toss as it gets for me, but I think The Iceman will pull it out. Liddell is looking in better shape so it’s safe to assume the Chuck that fought Keith Jardine is no more. This fight is too intense for the beast in Silva to not come out and I think we’ll see Wanderlei’s wild punching style play right into Chuck’s hand.

John Chandler, MMA on Tap: I like Chuck Liddell to stop Wanderlei Silva in this one. I don’t think that he’s going to knock him out as promised but I can see Silva being put in a position where the referee might be forced to stop the fight. Silva likes to charge right at you with strikes and that style is tailor made for Liddell who loves to counter-punch. This is a must-win fight for Liddell and he should be able to pull it off.

As you can see above, MMA on Tap has added a new member to the team in Jamie Fitzgerald. Jamie helps out in a big way with us over at HF and is a welcome addition to things around here. He’ll be replacing Scott, who has gone on to do this own thing, in doing Tap Selections among other things.

Jamie Fitzgerald (0-0)

Georges St. Pierre
Chuck Liddell
Ryoto Machida
Melvin Guillard
Soa Palalei
Luis Cane
Roan Carneiro
Manvel Gamburyan
Dean Lister
Mark Bocek

David M Singer (0-0)

Georges St. Pierre
Chuck Liddell
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
Rich Clementi
Eddie Sanchez
Luis Cane
Roan Carneiro
Manvel Gamburyan
Jordan Radev
Mark Bocek

John Chandler (159-77)

Georges St. Pierre
Chuck Liddell
Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
Rich Clementi
Soa Palalei
James Irvin
Roan Carneiro
Manvel Gamburyan
Dean Lister
Doug Evans

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