(Guys, seriously, you gotta stop this or I’m gonna have a harder time hiding this erection than Jean-Claude Van Damme.)
By George Shunick
This weekend, the MGM Grand Garden Arena will host the most highly anticipated fight this year when middleweight champion Anderson Silva faces off against, err, “middleweight champion” Chael P. Sonnen. As we all know, Sonnen was the man who almost took Silva’s title at UFC 117, dismantling the champion through punishing ground and pound and even rocking MMA’s greatest striker on the feet before succumbing to a triangle choke after winning the previous 23 minutes of the fight. Following the fight, it was revealed Silva fought with a badly injured rib and Sonnen had a testosterone to epitestosterone ratio of 16.9 to 1. Regardless, due to Sonnen’s trash talk and how close their last fight was, this fight has the potential to be one of the best fights of the summer.
However, will this be the “biggest rematch in the history of the business,” as Sonnen claims? Maybe, but I doubt it. You could argue Lesnar-Mir II is more likely to be successful financially, or that Liddell-Ortiz II or Liddell-Couture II/III were more culturally significant for a burgeoning sport, but virtually all lacked such a compelling narrative or contained the level of talent featured here. Moreover, in hindsight, they were rather one-sided matchups. Edgar-Maynard II and III were probably of a higher caliber that Silva-Sonnen II will be, simply by virtue of being two of the greatest fights in the history of the sport, but lacked the hype and context that this matchup possesses.
This matchup has the potential to rank alongside Fedor-Nogueira III, which saw the two greatest heavyweights in MMA history – and the two top-ranked heavyweights at that time – fight for the Pride heavyweight title; both fights possess a historic air about them, feature top level talent, and take place within the narrative framework of a rivalry. But I still think the gold standard for a rematch will remain Jackson-Silva II, which had every ingredient you could wish for in a rematch turned up to 11. It had two of the greatest fighters in MMA history, in one of the greatest rivalries in MMA history, in one of the greatest fights in MMA history, culminating in one of the greatest knockouts in MMA history. Suffice it to say, Sonnen-Silva II has a lot to accomplish to validate Sonnen’s comments.