Breaking down the biggest UFC fight this year
-by Hafeez Walji
Something I have found interesting since Twitter became mainstream is how many people — people who talk mostly about hockey, basketball, football, soccer or other things –- get really excited when it comes to Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.
After thinking about it, I realize it’s not because Mayweather is the most exciting fighter in the world. He sells fights based on his personality and stardom, not to mention the fact he is still 43-0.
Why bring all this boxing stuff up? As a lover of combat sports I sincerely hope the day comes when Mayweather and Pacquiao finally agree to fight each other. As of right now, though, the closest we may come to such a legendary fight is this Saturday’s UFC Middleweight Championship bout between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen.
There is genuine animosity between these two – they had to be separated during the final pre-fight press conference in what was supposed to be a photo session.
Their Previous Fight
Sonnen and Silva have met once before, 23 months ago, in what could be considered one of the best comeback victories of all time.
Really, it was Sonnen’s best performance ever. He did what no other man has ever really done to Silva — he actually beat him up. He controlled The Champion on the mat for 19 minutes and 52 seconds and landed a total of 320 strikes in the fight.
Somehow Silva, with just one minute and 50 seconds left, caught Sonnen in a triangle choke armbar submission. It is on record as the latest stoppage of a fight in UFC history.
Over Silva’s six years in the UFC, he has fought 14 times and never lost.
In those 14 wins, he has finished opponents 12 times, nine by knockout or TKO and three by submission. This is a man who knows how to finish fights in many ways, but he is especially lethal with his hands, feet, knees and elbows.
Silva is an accurate striker and he also has fantastic counter punching abilities and the creativity to mask shots. He has a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, the skill he utilized to stop Sonnen.
Mike Fagan once wrote, “Inside the cage, Anderson Silva is omniscient. His omniscience breeds his creativity. He is an artist who creates beauty out of violence.”
Silva will need to use his striking to create something beautiful this Saturday if he hopes to get past Sonnen.
In the last six years, Sonnen has fought in and out of the UFC 16 times, winning 12 of the fights. Out of his 12 wins, 5 have come by stoppage, 3 TKO’s and 2 submissions. Sonnen is a skilled wrestler who uses his craft to his advantage constantly pressuring his opponents with a barrage of strikes.
Sonnen will again look to take Silva down as he did during their first fight. His ability to get in close, smother his opponent and keep him on his back is not only effective, but frustrating.
In their, first fight Sonnen only let Silva hit him 64 times, thus neutralizing his main mode of attack and limiting the damage he took. Now Sonnen has more tools at his disposal. He has been working on his Jiu Jitsu and catch wrestling with Neil Melanson an extremely well respected coach.
Sonnen’s key to victory will be again getting this fight to the ground and keeping it there and using his training to stay out of positions that leave him open for submissions.
Who has the edge
Since the last time Silva fought in August of 2011, Sonnen fought in October 2011 and again in January of this year. While an 11 month layoff isn’t huge, the fact that Sonnen has seen action twice does give him a slight advantage.
On Thursday, MMA reporter Shaun Alshatti tweeted this:
“Oh wow. Chael: ‘I’ve got one tremendous problem… I am exactly 20 pounds overweight. That gives me about 27 hours to lose 20 pounds.’”
This could play a tremendous role as they near the end of the fight. Against Anderson Silva you want to be firing on all cylinders not trying to rehydrate.
Why you should watch
Anderson Silva is hands down the greatest MMA fighter in the world, EVER. There have been occasions (2 times out of 14) where he has lost himself in a fight and looked to inflict damage instead of finishing outmatched opponent.
Against Sonnen, there is no way this will happen. Sonnen is a man who will push Silva in all facets of the fight and force what could be Silva’s best performance to date.
My Pick: Silva by third round TKO.