December 28, 2007
There was quite a contrast between the weigh-ins for the two main events of Saturday night's UFC 79 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel Events Center in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS -- There was a tease of impending fireworks right after Chuck Liddell got off the scale on Friday afternoon, as opponent Wanderlei Silva, after his trademark intense stare down, made a gesture like he was teasing spitting.
Liddell responded by flipping Silva off, and Silva made a motion forward. It was broken up in seconds with both mouthing words at each other while their seconds pulled them apart. UFC president Dana White and other officials jumped in between them.
On the other hand, opponents Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre couldn't have been more cordial if one was inviting the other in for a family Christmas dinner, the likes of which both likely had to avoid to make the 170-pound weight class.
As they posed in a fighting stance, Hughes extended his hand and both hugged.
"I had a bad Christmas," said St. Pierre, likely in reference to having to train and diet through the holidays. "But I'm going to have a great New Year's."
Both fighters, competing for the interim welterweight title, weighed in on target at 170 pounds and looked to be in their best shape.
A crowd of about 3,500 fans, the second largest ever for a Las Vegas UFC weigh-in (behind only last year's record setting Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz match), was vociferous in particular for St. Pierre and even more, Liddell.
If there was a thought that two straight losses have somehow lessened Liddell's star power, it was lost on the audience which gave him a standing ovation and the loudest reception on the show.
Liddell weighed in at 204 pounds, one less than the shorter Silva. Liddell looked a little bloated at that weight, although he usually looks similar. Silva weighed in wearing a tank top, which he only took off prior to the stare down. He looked in the same condition that he was during his run of six years as Pride's champion in the 205-pound weight class.
From the reaction, it appeared this was a two-match show. While Liddell was more popular than Silva, the crowd did appear to have respect for the legend in Japan, who hasn't fought in the UFC since 2000.
Hughes, on the other hand, was the only main eventer booed, not surprising with numerous fans coming in from Montreal for the five-round fight.
In the other major match, unbeaten Lyoto Machida came in at 204 pounds, to 205 pounds to opponent Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. Machida, of Brazilian and Japanese ancestry, was noticeably taller than the native of Cameroon, who is coming off consecutive quick knockouts over Ricardo Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Due to last-minute visa issues, Machida didn't arrive until Thursday night at midnight.
The lineup for Saturday, in order:
Doug Evans (154) vs. Mark Bocek (155)
Roan Carneiro (170) vs. Tony DeSouza (170)
Dean Lister (186) vs. Jordan Radev (185)
Manny Gamburyan (155) vs. Nate Mohr (155)
James Irvin (205) vs. Luiz Cane (205)
Matches airing live on pay-per-view starting at 10 p.m. Eastern:
Rich Clementi (155) vs. Melvin Guillard (156)
Lyoto Machida (204) vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (205)
Eddie Sanchez (239) vs. Soa Palelei (262)
Wanderlei Silva (205) vs. Chuck Liddell (204)
Matt Hughes (170) vs. Georges St. Pierre (170) for the interim welterweight title
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