(Props: MMA Mania)
Maybe the epic visual presentation for St. Pierre vs. Penn 2 has spoiled us, but we’re getting the sense that the UFC’s design department doesn’t really care about their upcoming Montreal show. Above is the poster image they’ve released for #97, which features old stock images of the four headliners in front of a generic cage background, surrounded by a cloud-like fog. Are these the men that are guarding the gates to MMA heaven? And what’s up with the janky-ass bubble-block lettering?
It seems significant that UFC 97 will be just the second UFC pay-per-view event since September to be identified with a word ("Redemption") rather than by the headlining matchup (i.e., "Couture vs. Lesnar," "Franklin vs. Henderson"). We’re guessing that’s because the idea of "Silva vs. Leites" headlining a card tends to bum people out. Still, "redemption" works well as a unifying theme. Liddell and Rua will be battling to rescue their careers after putting in woeful performances in their last fights, and Silva will be trying to redeem himself in the eyes of fans after his oddly restrained and anti-climactic performance against Patrick Cote in October.
Still, if it were up to us, we’d call the card "Silva and Liddell," have the two of them on the poster by themselves, and hope fans are duped into thinking that they’re fighting each other. And we’d dial back the fog machine by at least 50%.
After the jump: The latest announced and rumored matchups for UFC 97. [Updated at 12:16 p.m. PT]
Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites (for middleweight championship)
Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (LHW)
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Brian Stann (LHW)
Jason MacDonald vs. Nate Quarry (MW)
David Loiseau vs. Ed Herman (MW)
Mark Bocek vs. David Bielkheden (LW)