On August 7, 2010, UFC 117 was held in Oakland, California. Prior to the main attraction, everything seemed to be going normally. The undercard bouts featured several exciting finishes, some grueling battles, and a mundane decision victory by Jon Fitch- a standard night for a UFC event. When it came time for the main event, most UFC fans were predicting how quickly Anderson Silva would dispose of his newest challenger- you would’ve been hard-pressed to find anyone who predicted the challenger would make it past the second round. The introductions were given, the referee explained his rules, and the fight commenced. What ensued was something that no UFC fan had ever seen before in the Octagon- Anderson Silva was getting beat up. Chael Sonnen, a fighter who many thought had earned his title shot with his trash talk rather than his fight performances, was destroying the best fighter in the world. Sonnen knocked Silva down in stand-up exchanges, took Silva down at will, and beat Silva down with unremitting ground-and-pound for four rounds. Sonnen was one round away from the middleweight championship and Silva was in need of a miracle. With just under 2 minutes left in the fifth and final round, Silva got that miracle as he slapped on a triangle choke and forced Sonnen to tap.
Despite the controversy surrounding Sonnen’s TRT use and his elevated testosterone levels for UFC 117, fans have begged for a rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen ever since the first fight ended. This Saturday at UFC 148, after almost two years of some of the most entertaining trash talk that UFC fans have ever heard (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHAGXlIyprQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TeM9HGObMo ) , Silva and Sonnen will fight again. Unlike the buildup to the first fight, Silva has uncharacteristically let loose with his words, saying that he was injured during their first encounter and that he will break Sonnen’s teeth, arms, and legs en route to a first-round victory at UFC 148. When the cage door shuts and the verbal warfare ends, the fight will boil down to many of the same questions that determined the course of the first contest. Will Sonnen be able to stand with Silva long enough in order to land one of his takedowns? Can Sonnen do five rounds of work from top position without getting caught in a submission? Will the aggressive version of Silva show up or will we see the man who toyed with Thales Leites and Demian Maia? Will Anderson look to sprawl and stop the takedowns or will he look to land a knee as Sonnen shoots in?
One new aspect of Sonnen’s game that was revealed in his recent triumph over Brian Stann was an offensive submission game. This may be Sonnen’s best bet to win the fight, as Silva has been known to get lazy from the bottom position and leave himself open to submission attacks. If Sonnen cannot finish Silva with a submission from top control, then he will be forced to dodge Silva’s armbars/triangles on the ground and Silva’s lethal strikes on the feet for 25 minutes. Although he almost accomplished this feat in their first fight, it seems unlikely that he can do it again. Sonnen won’t make it easy, but Silva will retain the title.