Anyone who knows me knows I wanted Chael Sonnen (27-11-1, 6-4 UFC) to win his fight against Michael Bisping (22-4, 11-4 UFC) this past weekend but I fully expected the fight to be less competitive than it was. Chael is known for pushing a high and frantic pace and really throwing his opponents off of their gameplan which is why he was able to fight middleweight champion Anderson Silva almost 100% successfully in August of 2010. Despite this, Michael Bisping was able to control Sonnen against the cage for the better parts of rounds one and two and was successfully able to get back to his feet whenever Sonnen took him down, save for the third round. The most shocking point however is that despite Bisping seemingly winning rounds one and two, FightMetric.com clearly showed that Sonnen outstruck Bisping overall (http://blog.fightmetric.com/2012/01/sonnen-vs-bisping-official-ufc.html).
Chael was ultimately declared the winner via unanimous decision which has now set him up for the rematch with Silva he has so zealously pursued since his loss at UFC 117. Every MMA fan on the planet knows what happened that night. Sonnen beat Silva up for four rounds before being caught in a “Hail Mary” triangle choke from Silva on the bottom. Since then, Sonnen has shown improvements in his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), most noticeably when he choked out Brian Stann at UFC 136 via arm triangle. Sonnen has upped the ante with his trash talk, despite claiming to be “done with Silva” and even bringing out a fake UFC belt to the UFC on Fox 2 pre-fight press conference.
Despite the win this past weekend, some people question the legitimacy of Sonnen’s chances in a rematch with Silva. It is widely known that Silva fought with an injured rib in their last bout and (depending on who you ask) Sonnen’s TRT helped him with his cardio in the fight as well. Not to mention, Sonnen is the #2 ranked middleweight in the world today whereas Bisping is (at this time) ranked #8. Nobody expected Bisping to give Sonnen such a competitive fight on Saturday and some wonder if Sonnen would really last even three rounds with Silva in a rematch. The three things that Sonnen has going for him over Silva are his cardio, wrestling, and desire to win. It’s no secret that Anderson Silva, for all the talk about him being the #1 pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, can’t wrestle his way out of a box and his cardio while decent, is not on Sonnen’s level. Sonnen was able to beat up Anderson easily in their first fight because he pushed a furious pace and Silva wasn’t able to gauge Sonnen’s timing and throw more accurate counter-punches like he has done with every other opponent he has ever faced. Silva has surely been working on his wrestling since then and there’s no love lost between both fighters (especially since Sonnen’s comments regarding Silva’s wife). Silva will be coming into the fight much more prepared than last time.
The only thing that Sonnen can hope for in the rematch is that Silva is still injured. Silva has been nursing a shoulder injury since his fight at UFC 134 against Yushin Okami (26-6, 10-3 UFC) and while it may not be as serious as a broken rib, it would certainly help Chael out when it comes to fight time. As well, Sonnen wants to win this fight so badly that it’s hard to imagine him faltering. I know that sounds wishy-washy but when you look at how the first fight went down plus all of Sonnen’s hype so far, it’s easy to imagine.
Do I want to see Sonnen upset Silva and take home the title? Hell yes. Do I think it will realistically happen? Probably not.