Silva-Sonnen II: The Journey

Oh my lord, I’ve been completely sucked in by the hype for UFC 148. The rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen is looking to be one of the biggest fights in MMA or combat sports history.

Their first fight on August 8th 2010 was one of the most special fights and moments in MMA history. It was one of the few fights that couldn’t have been scripted any better. It was an incredible battle between two fighters who wanted the belt more than anything else.

For followers of Sonnen’s career the prologue had been written. He spoke before his WEC title rematch with Paulo Filho about wanting to win for his late father. Chael had made the promise to his father in hospital on his deathbed and was primed to take the belt. However, in a ridiculous twist of fate, Filho missed weight and the fight was changed to a non title affair.

This followed Chael’s first fight with Fliho for the belt. He had been dominating the bout both on the feel and the ground until being submitted via armbar. Chael’s submission defense has always been his downfall. He had an awful habit of pulling defeat from the jaws of victory. Of his 11 losses, eight have been via submission and seven of those have been from the guard. Basically, Chael has one real weakness and EVERYONE knows it.

The fight with Anderson was Chael’s first step into the mythical ‘Championship Rounds’. It was also his best performance of all time. He outstruck Silva on the feet, wrestled him to the floor and beat the hell out of him for four full rounds. He made the previously invulnerable Silva look human for the first time in the UFC. We all know the story though, Silva threw up a hail mary triangle and got the tap.

This was especially galling to Sonnen as he had gone on a pro wrestling style interview tour. He attacked Silva, Silva’s manager Ed Soares, Brazil and basically anyone who had been in the same room as Anderson in the previous three years. He had lost after basically becoming the greatest trash talker in MMA. He had to swallow his pride and admit after the fight that he’d tried his best but “came out with the silver medal.”

You would think that this would shut Chael up. It did not. Even after a failed steroid test, he kept going with the trash talk. He dragged Wanderlei Silva, Mirco Cropcop and the brothers Nogueira into the mix. The only issue with his verbal destruction of Anderson was that Silva never responded. Ever.

Chael eventually returned after his suspension. He dismantled Brian Stann in ridiculous fashion, beating him with a side choke. this was ten feet in front of his arch nemesis Anderson Silva. This was his first submission win since 2007. He took the microphone, ignored Joe Rogan’s post fight question and addressed Anderson directly.

“Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck. Superbowl weekend, the biggest rematch in the history of the business. I’m calling you out Silva but we’re upping the stakes. I beat you, you leave the division. You beat me and I will leave the UFC forever. ”

With that promo he brought the fight hype from the internet back to the general public who don’t scour the web for MMA news and interviews. It was a vital component in the fight hype. Every huge fight in combat sports has been huge on the back of the average viewer buying the hype.

In the time between  Sonnen scraps, Anderson destroyed Vitor Belfort in one round and Yushin Okami in two. The former was via a ridiculous front kick to the face. The latter was the first stoppage of Okami since 2003. He regained his status as the greatest fighter who ever lived to the general MMA populace.

Anderson was injured for the first half of 2012 so the fight couldn’t take place straight away. Just more time for Sonnen promos, each more outlandish than the last. He beat Michael Bisping in January and used a classic Superstar Billy Graham interview from WWWF in 1979.

It all sets the stage for Saturday’s bout. The Middleweight Championship of the world is on the line, the venus is sold ou…..WAIT. Anderson responded? Like properly? Oh yes.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m on the bottom, side, top, it doesn’t matter. Chael Sonnen is going to get his ass beaten like he’s never been beaten before. I’m going to do something that has never been done before. I’m going to break all his teeth, his arms, his legs; he won’t be able to walk out of the cage. I know that he’s listening. No more shit-talking; the game is over. It’s on now.”

“I’m going to make him pay, and I’m going to make him eat everything he said about myself, our country, and make sure he never disrespects any Brazilian fighter. I’m going to beat him like maybe his parents should have beaten him to teach him some respect.”

Then he hung up. Oh lord. He’s ANGRY now.

It has changed from an athletic exhibition that has been promoted well to  a legitimate blood feud. It’s now got an added dimension of hatred not seen since UFC 100. Dana White had to be rubbing his hands with glee as Anderson is notoriously media shy. That outburst literally made the UFC millions in pay per view revenue.

I could end this with a breakdown of all their strengths and weaknesses but who cares. Two men hate each other. And they will fight. On Saturday. Be there.