Now it's time.
Time for the trash talk to stop. Time for the lights to go down, for the crowd to stand quietly in anticipation. Time for Anderson Silva to fight.
Saturday night ends all the anticipation and promotion of UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen, finally every fan of MMA will get to watch Silva defend his UFC middleweight crown after the disastrous performance back at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.
Silva, 35, not only puts his undisputed middleweight title on the line against challenger Chael Sonnen (26-10-1), he also puts two UFC records: an 11-0 win streak in the UFC and six consecutive title defenses. He is without question the best fighter the sport has to offer and Saturday in Oakland, CA the world gets to see him perform once again.
The question on a lot of fans' minds is whether he will perform. In his last fight back in April, Silva toyed with challenger Demian Maia for three rounds before backing away in the final two. It drew the ire of the foreign crowd and most importantly that of UFC President Dana White who stated most vehemently that those antics would not be tolerated again.
And with current challenger, Mr. Sonnen flapping his gums at every opportunity about just how much of a fraud Silva is, there seems to be no reason anymore for Silva to back away.
He's been challenged and all the greats rise to the occasion in just such moments.
Speaking of greats, the lineup for UFC 117 could make it just one of the great UFC events in history. Also featured on the card is a showdown between the widely considered No. 2 and 3 welterweights in the world -- Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves -- as well as a No. 1 contender's bout for the heavyweight championship between Junior Dos Santos and Roy Nelson not to mention UFC legend Matt Hughes.
In the co-main event of the night Fitch (25-3) does indeed take on Alves (22-5) in a rematch of a bout from over four years ago in which a much more experienced Fitch defeated Alves. Now, finally fans receive the rematch they have been clamoring for for a long, long time and the winner will be in line for their second title shot and perhaps a second date with current UFC welterweight champion Georges St.-Pierre if he gets past Josh Koscheck in December.
Meanwhile, Dos Santos (11-1) and Nelson (16-4) will indeed battle to decide who fights the winner of October's showdown between current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez.
Hughes (45-7), the soon-to-be UFC Hall-of-Fame inductee, takes on fellow welterweight Ricardo Almeida (12-3) as Almeida looks to not only defeat perhaps the best welterweight to ever strap on the gloves (at least for the time being) but to avenge his coach's honor (Hughes defeated Renzo Gracie in April).
That still isn't all.
Rounding out the five bout main card are lightweight contenders Rafael Dos Anjos (14-4) and Clay Guida (26-8). Dos Anjos is on a quiet little run and if he can get through Guida will have a marquee name on his ledger as well as a claim for top five competition.
And then there's the undercard. Loaded with names like Ben Saunders (welterweight taking on Dennis Hallman), Dustin Hazelett (ww taking on Rick Story), Phil Davis (LHW taking on Rodney Wallace), Tim Boestch (LHW taking on Todd Brown) and Stefan Struve (HW taking on Christian Morecraft).
Many of the UFC faithful out there will be hoping for some quick finishes Saturday night so that most of the talent on the undercard will reach their television sets.
Silva on the other hand, will be hoping for a few extended streaks and that a certain challenger will have finally learned his place.