On Saturday, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will defend his title against challenger Chael Sonnen in a highly anticipated rematch of their 2010 classic. Their first fight saw Sonnen, a 4 to 1 underdog, obliterate Silva over the five rounds of the fight. Sonnen devastated the champion with powerful crosses, persistent takedowns, and punishing ground and pound. Yet with a little over 2 minutes left in the fight, Silva secured a triangle choke, forcing Sonnen to tap and retaining his title. Over the past two years, Sonnen has worked for a rematch to get what he came so close to achieving last time. Now he gets that chance.
Of course, you might be wondering how it took two years for Chael Sonnen to get a rematch after he almost won their last fight. Well, it’s because Sonnen tested positive for an elevated testosterone ratio almost 17 times the normal ratio for a healthy human being. Getting charged with money laundering while he was serving the ensuing suspension probably didn’t help any either. But once Sonnen returned to competition, he decimated middleweight contender Brian Stann and eked out a decision over Michael Bisping for his next shot at the title.
Silva, meanwhile, took care of business in dispatching Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami to retain his title. His knockout of Belfort was particularly devastating, highlighting his freakish striking ability and further cementing his claim as the greatest fighter in the sport’s short history. It was also revealed that he fought the last fight against Sonnen with a serious rib injury.
In addition to their in-cage exploits, Sonnen and Silva have traded verbal barbs over the past year. Well, “traded” is a bit of a stretch. Sonnen has gone out of his way to call out Silva every chance he has, insulting the champion and his homeland, Brazil. At a recent conference call, Silva finally broke his silence, informing the challenger that he would “break his face and break every one of his teeth in his mouth… What I’m gonna do inside the Octagon is something that’s gonna change the image of the sport.” Their recent press conference did not help to dispel the perception that this has become a very personal fight for Silva, leading to some speculation that he will be mentally compromised heading into the fight.
I’m not buying it. Silva was heated before the Belfort fight and look how that turned out. I think Sonnen has a skill set that can give Silva problems. But given his poor submission defense and Anderson’s stellar striking, I don’t think he can defeat him. He fought an amazing fight with every conceivable advantage last time and still lost. He’ll lose again Saturday night, but it won’t be as close. Silva by submission.