On August 7, 2010, the man many believe is the best pound for pound fighter in the world will step into the UFC Octagon to defend his middleweight championship against a man who may be the best pound for pound trash talker in the world. In a much anticipated title fight that has personal stamped on it in bright red block letters, number two ranked middleweight and agitator extraordinaire Chael Sonnen (24-10-1) will face the man many fans all but disowned after his petulant display at UFC 112, “The Spider” Anderson Silva (26-4). This fight is an absolute stroke of genius on the part of Zuffa LLC. With many fans turned off to Anderson after shelling out 50 of their hard earned dollars to watch him dance, skip, and run around the ring as he mocked the clearly outclassed Damien Maia (11-2), the UFC needed someone to sell this fight and hopefully light a fire under their prima donna champion. The perfect man was Chael Sonnen. Between pundits arguing about weather or not Chael deserved the shot and Chael’s own mastery of auditory antagonism; fans have not stopped talking about this fight since it was announced shortly after Anderson defeated Maia. The question we are all left to answer is “Has Chael Sonnen bitten off more than he can chew?”
At First Glance: This fight looks like another easy win for Silva at first glance. Sonnen has shown very little interest in passing the guard in his previous fights and has also been submitted by every opponent he has faced who has a solid guard. As a BJJ black belt, it’s safe to say Silva knows his way around the ground and he has shown a solid guard in his bout against Travis Lutter (10-6). Standing, Anderson Silva is nothing short of brilliant. Sonnen has to negotiate that mastery of the striking arts in order to engage in a clinch, (the same clinch where Anderson destroyed “Crippler” Chris Leben (21-7) and “Ace” Rich Franklin (27-5)) to work for one of his patented Greco-Roman takedowns just to land in Silva’s guard where he is still at a disadvantage.
Inside and Out: Despite saying “Saying you got a black belt under the Nogueira brothers is like saying I got a free toy in my Happy Meal,” Chael Sonnen knows better than to underestimate the guard of Anderson Silva and get caught in a triangle or armbar. He knows that he needs to get this fight to the ground. While Anderson Silva had no answer for Dan Henderson’s (25-8) Greco-Roman takedowns, he showed in the second round just how dangerous getting into the clinch with him in order to get that takedown really is. One blow from Anderson Silva is enough to starch the stoutest of fighters and Chael Sonnen, while tough, hasn’t got the chin of Hendo.
The Wild Card: Simply put, the only variable factor here is Anderson Silva himself. If he shows up to fight, Chael Sonnen is a dead man. A focused and aggressive “Spider” is not only a wrecking machine, but is the absolute best in the world at beating fighters like Sonnen. On the other hand, Sonnen has arguably the best wrestling in middleweight MMA and always comes to fight. If Anderson has another mental check-out and decides he wants to play with Sonnen, he may not get the opportunity to check back in before Chael issues his promised “one sided beat down.” Its true Sonnen hasn’t finished an opponent since coming to the UFC, but he has done some serious damage to opponents in the past. Anderson needs to respect this opponent because the intimidation factor won’t beat Sonnen for him like it did Maia and Thales.
The Verdict: Chael Sonnen has managed to completely steal the spotlight from a dominant UFC champ for the first time in the promotions history but his chances of “holding Anderson Silva down and punching a hole in his head” are slim to none. Anderson is the superior fighter every way but mentally. If Chael is determined and Silva decides to imitate Michael Jackson instead of Bruce Lee, Chael has a slim chance of upsetting the number one fighter on the planet. Even if Anderson clowns around again, there is still every chance he will survive the round and then come out with his head on straight. All in all, this looks to be a very bad night for Chael Sonnen. Anderson Sliva by Second Round TKO.