This Saturday night, all the talking comes to a halt, all the anticipation comes to a head…it all ends. Chael Sonnen (27-11-1 MMA, 6-4 UFC) will put up or shut up as he fights Anderson “The Spider” Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC) for the UFC middleweight championship. Everyone who follows MMA to some extent knows how the first fight went. Sonnen beat Silva up for 4.5 rounds before being caught in a “hail Mary” triangle choke, thrown up by Silva halfway through the fifth round. Since then, Sonnen has not let up with the trash talk, insulting everything about Silva, from his wife, to his home country of Brazil. Silva remained quiet on the matter until he made a recent outburst that made everyone stand-up, GSP included.
Again, none of this will matter come Saturday night when the two warriors square off in UFC 148’s main event. Let’s have a toe-to-toe breakdown of the two fighters and I’ll end with a prediction of who will win this weekend.
This one is obvious. The advantage goes to Silva who hits with laser-point accuracy and knows how to hurt people. From his famous front face kick that knocked down Vitor Belfort at UFC 146 to the back-peddling jab that KO’ed Forrest Griffin at UFC 101, Silva is a striking guru in every sense of the word.
Sonnen certainly has a solid left jab and he did hit Silva with some solid shots in their first fight, not to mention knocking Silva down at least once and staggering him prior to that. But it’s going to take more than a good jab to get Anderson to the ground where Sonnen wants him.
Again, the advantage here is obvious and it goes to Sonnen. Chael is a former NCAA Division I All-American, a former NCAA Division I champion, and was in the Pac-10 Conference in 1997. All of these awards hail from the University of Oregon. Sonnen took Silva down at will in their first fight and Silva never had an answer for Sonnen’s thunderous takedowns. Wrestling has always been Silva’s Achilles’ Heel, despite him being arguably the greatest fighter in the world.
Silva is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and like wrestling for Silva, BJJ is Sonnen’s Achilles’ Heel. Eight of Sonnen’s career losses have come by way of submission. However in the first fight, Chael neutralized the majority of Silva’s submission attempts from the botton and even attempted an arm triangle at one point. Sonnen’s submission game is ever-improving as noticed in his fight with Brian Stann at UFC 136 in which he won with an arm triangle. I also attribute Sonnen’s triangle choke loss to Silva the first time not solely to sloppy submission defence but also to him simply being tired and became lazy. As a result, Silva saw an opening and went for it.
But at the end of the day, you have to give the advantage to Anderson because again, he is a black belt and Chael and submission defence are like oil and water.
I would give the advantage to Sonnen purely because he is a wrestler. Wrestlers are known for what seem like endless gas tanks because when they train at the academic level in wrestling, it’s very grueling work and very tiring. You don’t achieve what Sonnen did at the University of Oregon if you can’t fight for 25 minutes. Sonnen has also gone the distance more so than Silva in his MMA career so he is used to fighting into the later rounds, whereas Silva is more adept at finishing a fight early on. The few times we have seen Silva go the distance, he has slowed down as seen in his fight with Demain Maia at UFC 112.
This could be argued as a toss-up given that both men have been fighting for a very long time. Anderson however, has been the UFC middleweight champion since 2006; a staggering six years! That’s unheard of in the MMA world. As a result, he has consistently fought top-level talent in each of his fights and for the most part, looked good while doing it.
Sonnen has been around the block, fighting in several different promotions throughout his career. He’s been in Pancrase, the IFC, Bodog, the WEC, and currently, the UFC. His experience gained is no joke as he worked hard to make his way up the ladder, to the spot as the No. 2 ranked middleweight in the world behind the champion.
At the current tally, it’s two advantages for Silva, two for Sonnen, and with the experience not being a tie-breaker, it’s three in total for both men. But who really has the advantage, in the end?
Chael P. Sonnen
No, I’m not crazy. Chael is inside Anderson’s head. Don’t believe me? Read Silva’s comments on what he’s going to do to Chael this Saturday night and watch the UFC 148 press conference from earlier today and you tell me that heated staredown wasn’t due to Silva’s emotions getting the better of him. Silva is a smart fighter. True, but if he lets his emotions get the better of him, he will leave himself open to Sonnen’s takedowns and we will see a better version of Chael than in their first fight. Chael will not stop pushing forward, he take Silva down, and punish him. Unless Silva has become a wrestling master, which I highly doubt, I don’t see this fight going Anderson’s way. Let’s not forget too that part of the reason Sonnen did so well in the first fight was because Silva couldn’t get Sonnen’s timing down and given Silva’s fighting style as a counter-puncher, the night almost went very badly for him.
FINAL PREDICTION: Chael Sonnen wins via unanimous decision