Stylistically, it's hard not to argue Chuck Liddell has no edge over Wanderlei Silva. Silva charges into the pocket with hooking punches leaving himself exposed for extended, hard, chambered punches down the middle, a specialty of The Iceman. But Liddell is not the same fighter that was supposed to face Silva in PRIDE's 2003 Middleweight tournament. Aside from succumbing to the slow creep of age (he'll be 38 by the time he enters the cage on Saturday), he is stuck in a rut with respect to his fight preparation. A case can be made that you should dance with the one that got you there, but even that Aristotelean wisdom has it's shortcomings, i.e. you're losing in very uncharacteristic fashion.
Now that the stakes are higher than ever, it's important to perhaps take a look at your training regimen, pre-fight preparation, sparring partners, and make the necessary adjustments. Wanderlei Silva, who essentially took one year off to re-tool and re-dedicate himself, has done just that. Notable quote:
"Before, I'm fighting four or five times per year and this year I fight only one time," said Silva about his fight activity in 2007. "I have no injuries. I'm hungry for a win and I need to win this fight. I wake up in the morning everyday with this fight on my mind."
Silva has a few of his old coaches still in rotation, but now he has a new training environment, new partners, new gameplan, and new focus. Whether this is too much change or whether ring rust will be factor will be discovered on the evening of the 29th. But for my money, Silva has done significantly more work in the "off season" to specifically ready himself for Liddell.
Liddell's style should already work well against Silva's, who, quite frankly, has more adjustments to make between the two. But I thought Keith Jardine was tailor made for Liddell as well. If Silva stays calm, smart, and comes in with a gameplan to attack Chuck with kicks, set him off his rhythm, keep him off balance with strikes and good footwork/positioning, we will see the end of The Iceman. Bank on that.