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Keys to Victory & Prediction for UFC 148’s main event

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.

Striking

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.

Wrestling

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.

Grappling

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.

Conditioning/Cardio

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.

Experience

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.

Conclusion

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

If I created a pro fighter…

I was thinking about this just now and I want to take a moment and have some fun with this. Nowadays, a fighter has to be well-rounded if he wants to succeed in the cage and one day, fight for (and win) a world title. MMA has come a long way since 1993 where it was all about being good at one thing, to the days of Pride FC where the best fighters were excellent at one particular discipline but had some functional knowledge of one or two other arts. Now, a fighter has to know a little bit of everything and be really good at it if he wants to get anywhere. So without further ado, here are the characteristics that would comprise my ideal fighter. They are in no particular order.

1. The accuracy of Anderson Silva

2. The boxing of Junior dos Santos

3. The wrestling of GSP

4. The strength, power, and explosiveness of Brock Lesnar

5. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu of Damian Maia

6. The conditioning of Cain Velasquez

7. The reach of Jon Jones

8. The unorthodox strikes of Lyoto Machida

9. The tenacity of Chael Sonnen

10. The speed of Jose Aldo

11. The kickboxing of Alistair Overeem

What about you? What does your ideal fighter look like?

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Jimmy Kimmel interviews Steven Seagal

Oh how I love Steven Seagal, the self-centred, sagging potato sack, aikido grand-master. He very much is a martial arts wizard and I can’t take that away from him.

What I will take away from him though is his assertion that he taught Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida the front face kick that they used to knockout their respective opponents with. I will now proceed to discredit his statement,

“There is a signature kick that I’ve taught them that they’ve knocked champions out with and won world championships with.”

  1. Anderson Silva didn’t actually KO Vitor Belfort with the kick. Silva still had to follow up with a few ground punches.
  2. Belfort wasn’t a champion at the time as he challenged current champion Anderson Silva for the middleweight title.
  3. Lyoto Machida already knew the kick as this video shows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsvmP7ybpRs.
  4. Machida did not win a world title with the kick

Check out the interview here: