Silva Vs. Sonnen At UFC 148: Who's Legacy Needs It More?August 7th, 2010 will always be a night remembered by MMA fans around the world. UFC 117 take place in Oakland, California, and what happened that night will surely go down as one of the most memorable nights in both UFC and MMA history.
Junior Dos Santos earned hard fought decision win over Roy Nelson, Jon Fitch once again defeated Thiago Alves, and of course, who could forget Matt Hughes' submission win over Ricardo Almeida.
Aww, who am I kidding. UFC 117 will be remembered for one thing and one thing only: the UFC middleweight title match between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. And with the rematch only days away, the question to be asked is who needs this win more for their own personal MMA legacy?
Let's start with Sonnen. A man 39 professional fights over a 12 year career, with 27 victories, Sonnen has not only been one of the more successful 185 pounders in recent years, but defiantly one of the most talked about. With victories over fighters such as Jason Miller, Trevor Prangley, Bryan Baker, Paulo Filho, Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt, and most recently Michael Bisping, Sonnen has solidified his spot as the second best middleweight in the world.
Leading up to the UFC 117 match, Sonnen has been on quite a roll. Wins over #2 Filho, #2 Marquardt, and #3 Okami, with a loss to Demain Maia as well, Sonnen took the world by storm with this brash comments and no fear attitude leading up to his match with Silva. And whether you like Sonnen or not, what we all witnessed for 23 minutes left the entire world staring at the TV shaking the heads. The wrestler from Oregon was 2 minutes away from not only winning the UFC middleweight crown, but also doing it in a fashion we had never seen before.
His 320 strikes landed, via Fightmetic, was basically the total of all Silva's previous UFC opponents combined. His rugged, straight ahead approach seemed to fluster Silva, who spent the majority of the fight either on his back or trying to figure out his striking game, both of which fans had never seen before.
So with around 2 minutes left, and Sonnen seemingly in full control, what we witnessed from Silva is something TV movies are made of. With numerous submission attempts failing all night for "The Spider", the last triangle choke he tossed up was enough to basically not only finish Sonnen, but take the breath out of 600000 fans watching on PPV. At 3:10 of round number 5, Anderson Silva not only put an end to what may have been the greatest upset in MMA history, but also started a chain reaction of events never really seen before in MMA (we will touch on that later).
Now for Silva. His UFC debut came in 2006, a TKO win over Chris Leben, but most MMA fans knew of the man called "The Spider" already. With a storied career that includes number 1 rankings in both welterweight and middleweight, Anderson Silva may go down as the greatest MMA fighter of all time. With wins over fighters such as Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton, Jeremy Horn, Rich Franklin, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, and Yushin Okami, Silva was riding a 12 fight winning streak heading into UFC 117.
Most experts had Silva winning this fight easily, as there was no way a wrestler like Sonnen could deal with the standup and BJJ of a guy like Silva. The experts were half right as we all know now. After taking a considerable amount of punishment for the majority of 5 rounds, Silva was able to keep his composure and lock in the triangle choke to finish Sonnen.
Following the match, a rematch was being set up as fast as possible, but this is where the chain of events comes into play.
News broke fairly soon that Sonnen had failed a drug test following the match. After a few months of waiting, he had his time in front of the California State Athletic Commission, and was suspended for 6 months after appeals. Fans were salivating for his Sonnen's return, as the rematch seemed to be a foregone conclusion. But during this time, Sonnen faced another matter, a federal charge of money laundering. Many felt this would be damaging to not only the rematch, but Sonnen's career as well, with the maximum penalty for such an offense being 10 years.
Sonnen plead guilty however and received only a fine and 2 years probation. During this time, Silva returned to the cage and defeated Vitor Belfort at UFC 126, leading many to believe that Sonnen would be next for the champion. But again, something snuck in and put a hold to the match. A report stated that UFC officials wanted Sonnen to coach with Michael Bisping on TUF 14, with the winner getting the title shot. Sonnens suspension however would not allow him to participate, and was replaced with Jason "Mayhem" Miller.
Instead, Sonnen stepped in to face Brian Stann at UFC 136, and in a small bit of irony, won the match via submission. With that victory, the rematch seemed to be set, as Silva has just defeated Yushin Okami at UFC 134. But before the match could finally be made, Silva was forced out of action with an injury, leaving Sonnen without an opponent. Mark Munoz was penciled in to face Sonnen at UFC on Fox 3, but he was replaced by Michael Bisping. After a tough 3 fight match, Sonnen was awarded the decision victory. So for what seemed like the 100th time, fans began waiting for Silva/Sonnen 2. But this time, it was announced, to take place in Silva's home country of Brazil at UFC 147.
I don't think I need to explain the reasons Sonnen even being in Brazil could have been bad, but in another odd turn of events, UFC 147 was moved to a new venue in Brazil, due to a United Nations conference happening during the original card date. Silva/Sonnen 2 was then moved to UFC 148 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and with a few injury reports out of Silva's camp ending up as false, we finally get to see the rematch almost 2 years in the making.
So, with all of this said, back to the original question, who needs this win more for their personal legacy?
Anderson Silva will obviously go down as one of, if not the best, MMA fighter of all time. His dominance since his UFC debut has been nothing short of spectacular.
But despite this dominance, Silva does have some small holes on his resume. His UFC 112 match against Damian Maia left a lot of MMA fans beyond upset, his UFC 90 match with Patrick Cote as well to a lesser extent. His UFC 97 match with Thales Leites will be remembered a horrible, but that was more Leite's doing. Silva will also have 2 memorable career moments outside of the 1st Sonnen match, the front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort at UFC 126, and the flying scissor heel hook loss to Ryo Chonan at Pride Shockwave 2004. His skill set puts him so far ahead of most MMA fighters that people sometimes dismiss what he has done as simply "that's what he is supposed to do". All that changed at UFC 117 thought. Although he did earn the victory, that match will always be a black mark on his record, and a similar 2nd fight with Sonnen, win or lose, may hurt the legacy of Silva to some fans, whether that is right or not.
Chael Sonnen is Anderson's Lex Luthor, his Joker, whatever comparison you want to make. Squeezing out a win again just won't be enough to some fans. Silva needs to win this as he has since 2006, in dominant fashion.
Sonnen on the other hand needs this victory for different reasons. With the failed drug test following UFC 117, and the money laundering case, Sonnen's name took a major hit to many fans. They feel the only reason he was so successful at 117 was due to his high testosterone levels and all his trash talk leading up to this fight is only going to make the Silva win that much sweeter. But don't forgot, Sonnen has made his career on his wrestling pedigree, using his skill set to defeat some of the top middleweights in the sports history. Now, with his TRT use sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, people will still use it as a reason should he win, but that's a non-issue at this point.
His talk about Silva, and all things Brazil, has left Sonnen in basically a win or die situation. With a win, he proves all of his talk was warranted, but with a loss, he looks like a big mouth fighter that couldn't back up perhaps the greatest trash talk build up to any professional fight. Even with a loss like the last match, he can prove he can beat up Silva, but just can't do enough to beat him, which is what matters.
So Addicts, which is it to you? Will Anderson Silva cement his claim as the best 185 pounder ever, or will he succumb to the skills of Sonnen once again, minus the miraculous comeback? Will Chael Sonnen become the middleweight division's Jon Fitch next Saturday, or will he be able to do what no man has done since Ryo Chonan in 2004, and defeat Anderson Silva and validate all his talk?
We will find out this Saturday at UFC 148.
Published by Jasyn Zangari - Mon, 2 Jul 2012 16:25