Twenty three months. 23 long, excruciating months, since the greatest comeback in MMA history unfolded, as Anderson Silva offset a four and a half round beatdown, by catching challenger Chael Sonnen in a triangle choke to defend his title. Since that time, Silva has dominated Yushin Okami and Vitor Belfort. Chael Sonnen faced suspensions, convictions, and a near-loss to Michael Bisping, that almost de-railed any chances he had at a re-match with Silva.
After the initial fight, Chael Sonnen tested positive for a high T:E ratio due to his use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (which he was been granted an exemption to use during the UFC 148 fight). The suspension he received, coupled with rib and shoulder injuries to Anderson Silva, delayed what was to be an immediate rematch between the two.
For the past two years Chael Sonnen relentlessly trash talked Silva, his country of Brazil, Silva’s family, among other things. The normally passive Silva was silent until only a few weeks ago, firing back by threatening to “break all of Sonnen’s bones”, and throwing his shoulder into the face of Sonnen at the pre-fight weigh ins.
With the big fight atmosphere in the air, the two squared off in the most anticipated rematch since Lesnar/Mir II. Ignoring the customary show of respect of touching gloves to start the fight, the two men came out aggressive, with Silva attempting a quick combination that was quickly countered by a Sonnen takedown six seconds in. The remainder of round one looked eerily similar to that of rounds 1-4 of their UFC 117 battle, as Sonnen punished the champion with ground and pound.
Round 2 saw Silva uncharacteristically opening with a takedown attempt, which Sonnen stifled by pressing the champion against the cage. After being unsuccessful, Sonnen was baited into a striking exchange with his opponent. After missing a spinning back fist, was utterly dominated by punches, kicks, and what initially appeared to be an illegal knee to the downed Sonnen’s head. However upon replay, it was revealed the knee landed to the body, and was perfectly legal.
Sonnen made no excuses following the fight, admitting that Silva was the better man. Silva made an effort to squash the feud between the two, asking the audience to applaud Sonnen, and going as far to invite him to a barbeque at his house. I didn’t make that up.
Tito Ortiz, who was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this weekend, ended his career in a trilogy finale against Forrest Griffin. After only one win in his previous eight fights, the former major pay-per view draw went out in a blaze of glory, in a Fight of the Night performance.
Quite a reminiscent scene unfolded, with Tito Ortiz using his familiar ground and pound technique in which his generation made so popular, while Forrest Griffin opted to work the kickboxing game. In the end, Forrest Griffin landed 150+ strikes to Ortiz’s 50+ to take home the victory. In a bizarre (yet also familiar) scene, Forrest Griffin ran from the cage immediately following the bout, only to return for the decision to be announced.
Other big winners at UFC 148 included crossover star Cung Le winning an excellent fight against former Middleweight title challenger Patrick Cote, and Melvin Guillard preserving his job with a decision victory. Former title challengers Demian Maia and Chad Mendes also picked up TKO victories in their efforts to earn their way back to title shots.
THE VIRTUOUS ONE’S VIEWPOINT
As a journalist, I am asked to remain objectionable. I’ve been writing for more than three years now, obviously significantly less time that I have trained, and particularly watched MMA. Anderson Silva is one of the fighters that is responsible for me loving the sport. The feud with Chael Sonnen has been excellent for me as a writer, a fan, and as a competitor. Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen motivate. Not only their fans that pay to see their fights, but their fans who strive to be like them.
While I also interact with my readers, fellow writers, and fans alike on Twitter, many are unable to separate reality from fandom. Chael Sonnen and Diaz brother fans are particularly bad about the matter. Even when faced with a decisive loss, they find excuses for their fighters’ loss. To those fans; Chael Sonnen didn’t make any excuses, why should you?
Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter of all time. Fedor Emelianenko is in the conversation, but Silva hasn’t fought sideshow freaks and over the hill combatants during his UFC tenure. Most importantly, he HAS a UFC tenure. ‘The Spider’ has taken on two weight classes, champions from three UFC weight classes (four champions in all), and defended his title ten times. His legacy has been cemented.
Where do they go from here? Silva is in line to face Mark Munoz, or possibly Hector Lombard, assuming they win their fights against the tough opponents they face. Chael Sonnen, at age 35, will go back to the drawing board, and will still be a significant draw, worthy of a co-main event PPV or television main event slot.
Sonnen’s fate is directly impacted by the retirement of Tito Ortiz. Despite Ortiz not being anywhere near the title picture, he was a major draw. Nothing irks me more, than when entitled fans complain about a fighter’s relevance. I’ll let you all in on a secret…there are 8 UFC titles. Of those 8 UFC titles, there are at least 300 fighters signed to the roster at any given time. Not all fights are going to be ‘relevant’. Personally, I would still enjoy seeing former champions crush non-main event fighters, but that isn’t the way things work. Despite not being in the title picture, this is still a job, and a way of life to these fighters.
With Ortiz retiring, he joins Brock Lesnar, Nick Diaz, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell all retired, Rampage Jackson, BJ Penn, Forrest Griffin, Matt Huges and others not being far off, the UFC is losing star power. Now is the time for crossover stars to be made. Jon Jones is there, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos have done well, and Chael Sonnen earned his spot. Moving forward we’re going to see a whole new generation of fighters take over, and become the new draws for our viewership… at least until the fans decide they are no longer relevant, and choose to disrespect them instead of enjoying the hard work they put forward. Anyone who pays to see these performances is free to criticize, but don’t allow yourself to be one of those entitled ‘impress me’ fans.
Until next time, Follow me on twitter where I live tweet all live pro wrestling and major MMA events. This week will include Destination X, Raw, Smackdown, Impact Live, UFC on Fuel, and Strikeforce.