LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Under-fire middleweight champion Anderson Silva and former welterweight title-holder Matt Hughes will be showcased Aug. 7 when the UFC comes to Oakland, Calif., for UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena.
Silva (26-4) will face former NCAA champion wrestler Chael Sonnen in the main event while Hughes takes on Ricardo (Big Dog) Almeida.
For Silva, it is a chance to erase memories of lacklustre title defences against Demian Maia, Thales Leites and Canadian Patrick Cote. Silva’s performance at UFC 112 against Maia in April was so disengaged that UFC president Dan White threatened to cut him if he ever repeated it.
Despite his apparent middleweight disinterest, Silva has already made a record six title defences at 185 pounds and destroyed former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin and James (The Sandman) Irvin at 205 pounds.
And he is 11-0 since making his UFC debut in June 2006.
“When we offered Chael Sonnen this shot at the title, he promised us one thing: that he was going to make this a fight,” UFC president Dana White said in a statement Thursday. “I know he means it, and after beating three legit contenders in Nate Marquardt, Yushin Okami, and Dan Miller, he’s definitely going to bring the best out of Anderson Silva on Aug. 7.
“And as far as Anderson is concerned, he wants to remind everybody why he’s considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”
Sonnen (26-10-1) should make it interesting. He dominated Marquardt in his last fight, treating him like a rag-doll.
Outside the cage, he is currently running as a Republican for the Oregon state legislature. And when it comes to fighting, he speaks his mind.
“He’s been ducking me for four years,” Sonnen said of Silva. “This fight is a large part about the title and a large part about him. We’re not going to be friends. He’s not my kind of guy. But this fight is also to prove a point to the rest of the guys in the division. One guy has challenged him in four years and it’s been me.”
Said Silva: “If the guy wants to talk that’s fine. It’s a lot different inside the Octagon.”
Hughes (45-7) was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame last Friday, but is still campaigning in the cage. His last fight — his 22nd in the UFC— was a one-sided victory over Renzo Gracie.
Almeida (12-3) has dropped down from 185 pounds and is coming off an impressive win over Matt (The Immortal) Brown.
In other action, lightweight Clay (The Carpenter) Guida takes on Rafael dos Anjos.
In light-heavyweight bouts, Thiago Silva tackles Tim (The Barbarian) Boetsch and Rodney (Shonuff The Master) Wallace faces off against UFC newcomer Stanislav Nedkov.
In welterweight action, Dustin Hazelett looks to bounce back from his knockout loss to Paul (Semtex) Daley at UFC108 in January when he takes on Rick (The Horror) Story.
Also at 170 pounds, Ben (Killa B) Saunders meets veteran Dennis (Superman) Hallman and Johny Hendricks fights Charlie (The Spaniard) Brenneman.