UFC 79 in Las Vegas witnessed one of the greatest matches in mixed martial arts history when American fighter Chuck Liddell took on Brazilian phenom Wanderlei Silva. The match was held on December 29, 2007.
Liddell is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame, but at the time when his match against Silva took place, his storied career appeared to be on its down side. Many observers felt Liddell, then 38 years of age, had definitely lost a step.
Silva, on the other hand, was a highly skilled fighter in the prime of his career at 31 years of age. He entered the match highly motivated, as it marked his return to the UFC after spending years in the PRIDE Fighting Championships promotion.
The two heavyweights met in an electric atmosphere, under the watch of more than 11,000 fans and a television audience of millions. Liddell vs. Silva was about much more than just the two fighters; many MMA fans considered it a showdown between the UFC and PRIDE. In some circles, the fight was meant to determine once and for all which of the two promotions was “better.”
After a tentative start, Liddell and Silva began exchanging heavy blows about two minutes into the first round. Liddell seemed to gain the upper hand and moved in to pounce on Silva, but Silva retaliated with a furious flurry of defensive blows to bring the first round to an end.
The brutal second round left both fighters wounded and exhausted. In a definitive moment, Liddell hit the canvas after absorbing a blow, but Silva was too stunned to take the opportunity to bring an end to the match.
In the final round, Liddell finally began to outlast Silva, scoring a late knockdown which seemed to secure a victory by decision. Indeed, when the judges showed their scorecards, Liddell emerged the victor, silencing critics who suggested it was time for him to retire.