Chael Sonnen is always going to be the guy who had Anderson Silva beaten four rounds to zero and managed to lose. The guy who made one split-second mistake against a tired champion and ended up submitted and embarrassed. Also he’s that crazy guy who said Lance Armstrong gave himself cancer.
I’m having a really hard time figuring out which one of those mistakes is going to follow Sonnen longer. The guy is the Whale Wars of MMA fighters. He has great tools and he even does a few things right, but he sounds crazy when he talks and his biggest fight ends in pointless disappointment.
People who didn’t see the middleweight championship fight and just read some recaps probably thought, “Wow! A fifth-round submission by a desperate champion! Must have been an amazing fight!” Well, you’re half right.
Sonnen had an amazing fight for four rounds and ninety seconds. Silva…well, Silva had a few good seconds. Other than that, the champion spent pretty much the entire fight on his back, unable to respond to Sonnen’s powerful ground and pound. Silva said after that he’d injured his ribs and was told by doctors not to fight, but he did it anyway for the fans. My guess is also because Dana White would have had him kneecapped and then cut him from the organization. Can’t have a champ who’s the greatest fighter in the world but has no fans left. Instead, Silva took a beating and showed a bunch of heart.
That’s not to say there was anything exciting about Sonnen’s fighting style, though. He was a slower work-rate away from a great Tito Ortiz “lay and pray” impression.
Each of the four rounds went like this: round starts, fighters standing, a few jabs, two haymakers, Sonnen takes Silva down at the 3:45 mark or so and lays on him, doing occasional damage but mostly just looking busy and tapping Silva’s face from a few inches away. At the end of the fight, Silva looked exactly like he did at the beginning. It was Sonnen who was cut up and swollen because Silva managed to do real damage with the five or six strikes he landed over the course of four rounds and change. Otherwise, it was an interesting fight only because the great Anderson Silva might lose, and he didn’t anyway.
I’m not paying the UFC $45 again until October for Lesnar/Velasquez.
*photo courtesy AP
As for the other fights last night:
Roy Nelson vs. Junior Dos Santos (heavyweight)
Best one-sided fight you’ll ever see. Nelson totally won the crowd over even though he gassed by the end of the first round and couldn’t get his head out of the way of Dos Santos’ fists. Might have been a fight if “Big Country” had come in 20 pounds lighter than the 263 lbs of pure American fat he was carrying Saturday.
Matt Hughes vs. Ricardo Almeida (welterweight)
This is the other fight that shared submission of the night honors with the Silva/Sonnen debacle. Almeida never really got a chance to get into the fight, though his stand-up looked good against Hughes for a couple of minutes. You know, until Hughes choked him unconscious.
Clay Guida vs. Rafael dos Anjos (lightweight)
Guida loses this fight if dos Anjos doesn’t break his jaw in the first round. On the other hand, he wouldn’t have broken it in the first place if he’d managed to not get punched so f*cking hard by Guida. It’s a give and take.
Jon Fitch vs. Thiago Alves (catchweight – 171.5 lbs)
I still don’t get why everyone loves Jon Fitch in the octagon. He seems like a great dude outside of it, and it’s easy to respect a fighter who gets by with brains instead of luck and raw physical talent. But the guy is f*cking boring to watch and the elite fighters in his weight class can own him easily. See: St. Pierre, Georges.
And this might be it for Thiago Silva. The guy had a “brain issue” before the fight that was discovered by doctors. It was reparable, but still. On top of that, he reportedly was walking around at 190 pounds on Wednesday before the fight. Thus, he didn’t make the 171-pound minimum by eight ounces and cost himself thousands of dollars. This is actually the second time this happened to him at this weight class. Problem is, he’s much too short and stocky to move into the middleweight division, so he’s basically screwed unless he pushes away from the table and mixes in a salad in between KFC Double-Downs.
Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva (middleweight championship)
What’s left to say? Sonnen gave Silva the beating of his life but apparently didn’t think the champ was going to go for a triangle choke or armbar at some point even though he’d spent the entire fight on his back and that was pretty much his only option in the fifth round. The title belt is pretty big, so it’s easy to choke on.
Honestly, though, I hope Sonnen isn’t mentally destroyed and these two rematch at some point. Boring though it was, Sonnen earned another shot at a non-injured Anderson Silva.