Sorry for the late recap, been a busy week at work mma awesomeness aside. In my 2 years of actively watching & following this sport I have never experienced a fight as intense as the UFC 117 main event title fight between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. For the majority of mma fights you can tell who is the better fighter minutes into the first round. And as the fight progresses you may get to see if the opponent is either a slow starter, completely out of their leage, a victim of a bad style matchup or even injured.
Due to the many offensive options in mma and other factors like fatigue and overconfidence there is always a chance that a capable fighter can snatch victory out of the clutches of defeat (Duffe vs Russow). But rarely in high level mma do you see an elite fighter get put in the worst of positions:
Competing with a nagging injury that turns into a significant one.
Against an opponent whose offensive strength is your biggest defensive weakness.
Your title as champion and barring an unimpressive performance your job itself is on the line.
Anderson Silva faced all of these things, in Chael Sonnen who not only possessed the wrestling pedigree to give him fits, but also attacked with a reckless abandon devoid of the fear and trepidation most of Silvas previous opponents exhibited. For roughly 23 minutes Silva went from nigh invincible pound for pound demigod to a very flawed and human fighter who took a shellacking at the hands of a perceived gimme of a challenger in Sonnen. The previous 6 months of supposed delusional fight hype actually looked like legitimate threats, Cheal was clobbering the previously hard to hit champ, many times with a variety of strikes, from the devastating
to the desperate,
In the end it was all for naught with minutes left in the fight quite possibly the greatest comeback win in mma miraculously revealed itself in all its rapturous beauty.
Shattering loss aside, Sonnen is in the rare company of fighters who come off as winners even in defeat. He has also given the middleweight division the greatest gift of all: hope. Chael made the demi-god champion in Silva look like another mortal. In regards to a rematch I am going to have to say no to it, even though it would do gangbuster ppv sales. Chael has to win another fight and show some improved finishing skills, as he learned the hard way 5 rounds with Anderson Silva is too much time for him to find a way to finish.
The way I see it, if Anderson not only wins but finishes Sonnen again how does that look on his record years from now. I can already see future generations looking at his record and complaining about how he fought unworthy and flawed opponents and one guy back to back. Now if Sonnen manages to win the rematch, that would put them 1-1, does Silva get a rubber match? With the champ out until March 2011 it should be enough time for Chael to get another fight in. Preferably the winner of Okami vs Belfort a fight that needs to happen, you hear me Joe Silva.
The rest of the card was pretty entertaining, even the Fitch vs Alves rematch was entertaining near the end when it seemed Fitch was close to choking out the Brazilian. Alves survived to the bell losing to Fitch again, at least this time it was a UD instead of getting tko’d. Other highlights included Matt Hughes busting out a wrestling submissin (front headlock, Dave Schultz choke) Clay Guida improving his striking to the point were he is breaking jaws, but still using his scrappy top position grappling forcing his opponent to tap via injury. Heavyweight contenders Junior Dos Santos and Roy Nelson had an entertaining but one sided fight which got Junior his first decision win in the UFC and Nelson his first loss. Proving that a solid striking defense can preserve your conscience against the JDS express, if you don’t mind taking a beating in the process.
This was a card to remember and has set a high water mark for mma events in August and some would say the year. Only greedy fans like myself will hope that it will be outdone.