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UFC 148: Sonnen vs. Silva — Main Event Breakdown and Prediction

(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.

First, it’s important to consider the impact that Silva’s injury had on him; with an injured rib, it became much more difficult for him to stuff takedowns, land punches and utilize the head movement that is so fundamental to his counterstriking strategy. As a result, not only was Sonnen able to take Silva down at will, but he was also able to shock many observers by landing a number of heavy punches on the feet. In this contest, Silva won’t be fighting with an injured rib, so I suspect that Sonnen will not find the same success on the feet as he did in their first encounter. However, Silva may be entering the fight with a knee injury. Although he and Dana White were quick to dispute this, if the rumors are true Silva might find his mobility compromised, and evading takedowns will be difficult for him.

But to be honest, Sonnen could very well find success with his takedowns even if Silva is not injured. Sonnen is a southpaw who favors power double leg takedowns. Anderson is used to fending off single legs from opponents fighting out of an orthodox stance; as his lead leg is closer to their lead leg, it’s the more natural way for his opponent to attempt a takedown. But as Sonnen is a southpaw, his torso is more aligned with Silva’s than most fighters, and this allows him to angle for a double leg, which Silva isn’t as adept at defending. True, he was successful in this regard against Yushin Okami, but Sonnen is a more powerful and tenacious wrestler. Injuries or otherwise, Sonnen can get Silva on his back.

But it’s not going to be that simple. To do so, Sonnen still needs to get in range and that means getting in the Spider’s comfort zone. Silva is more than capable of dismantling Sonnen on the feet, but there are other dangers than merely being humiliated. Silva can use precision jabs to momentarily halt Sonnen’s progress and shift his position so he is no longer vulnerable to a takedown using his extraordinary footwork. From that advantageous position, he can land harder strikes and try to injure Sonnen, though he will probably avoid leg kicks to prevent Sonnen grabbing a hold of his leg and forcing him to the mat. If he manages to discourage Sonnen’s offensive efforts – no easy task – the Spider will win handily.

Even if Sonnen manages to take Silva down, what then? Sure, he’ll be able to land some ground and pound, but Silva’s guard will be much more efficient now that he won’t be dealing with an injured rib. The odds are that Sonnen will not be able to replicate the amount of damage he was able to do to Silva the first time around, whereas Silva will be even more capable of submitting Sonnen than he was during their last matchup. You can make all you like of Chael training with Vinny Magalhaes, but it would be as foolish to assume that a career-long flaw in Sonnen’s game will be corrected over the course of a few months as it would to assume Dana White will grow hair tomorrow.

Best case scenario, this fight is a competitive, back and forth affair that lives up to the hype and helps maintain the attention of old fans and grab new ones while the UFC undergoes its painful expansion process. If that’s the case, this would cement the Sonnen-Silva rivalry as being one of the greatest in the sport’s short history. But if Silva dominates Sonnen to the extent that he manages to utter “Where’s your wrestling now, playboy?”, their last match will be considered more of an aberration than an indication of a truly competitive struggle for supremacy atop the division. I don’t think that will happen, but I do think Silva will win after an early struggle. He won’t knock out Sonnen – or his teeth – but he will knock him down, and finish the fight via rear naked choke.

Agree or disagree, Potato Nation?

Cagepotato Comments

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Mr_Misanthropy- July 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm
I expect the Shpider to neutralize his prey with his radioactive venom, but never underestimate the power of a bonafide megalomaniac. It took a stubby sawed off angry Austrian with a funny moustache to great heights once in the fabulous '40's.

Yeah. I said it. The guy owns pizza ovens, the comparison was obvious.
ArmFarmer- July 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm
I also don't think any of those rematches stack up to this.. none of them involved the top pfp fighter in the world that's never had a loss in the ufc in what.. over a dozen title fights? Silva's reign is unmatched, as is sonnen's trash talking and hype machine. I have never looked forward to a fight so much.
ArmFarmer- July 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm
I know it could take a couple years, judging by this sites progress, but how bout giving the edit button back? Meant there, not their...
ArmFarmer- July 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm
When I read this I kept thinking to myself "really? you're going to put that much weight on a supposed injury that has never really been confirmed beyond hearsay from silva's camp??" I see I'm not alone. It is just as likely that silva had a legit injury as it is that Soares threw that out their to save them some of the embarrassment that was caused by his prize getting handled. I do not approve these paragraphs of nuthuggery.
ArmFarmer- July 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm
Also, it took a couple years it seems like to get rid of captcha.. does that mean we can see an edit button in the next decade? I meant there.. not their...
El Guapo- July 6, 2012 at 11:32 am
Silva loses for sporting the Beiber collection pink shirt/plaid pantelones combo. You just can't tempt the mma gods like that, nawmsayin?
McAsshole- July 6, 2012 at 11:06 am
I want this fight to be epic, but I'm predicting either an early eye poke or crushed testicle to be the finish of this fight. Just a hunch but I'm sticking with it. NC.
knucklesamitch- July 6, 2012 at 11:01 am

Here's what a real breakdown looks like, the writer still gives his opinion on how the fight will end, but at least the entire article was a fact based piece, and not a rant-filled piece of BS written by a cunty nuthugger.
Morten Kaae- July 6, 2012 at 11:00 am
This is quite possibly the worst breakdown I have ever read. This looks like something a fan boy with too much spare time would write. I hope this isnt how you pay your bills..
ctastrophe- July 6, 2012 at 10:47 am
You expect Sonnen to not be markedly better at sub defense than he was 2 years ago? Do Chael's coaches suck so bad that they make no effort to improve the worst part of his game? This isn't so much a breakdown as it is a ramble about how little a chance Chael has of winning.
Frank Mur- July 6, 2012 at 10:42 am
And the winner is....ME!
Because this is an awesome fight on a decent card that i am willing to pay for, going to the "House of shitty wings and Douchey T-Shirts" for a Freebee
Nick Bruiser- July 6, 2012 at 10:39 am
this article was a complete waste of time
knucklesamitch- July 6, 2012 at 9:52 am
Goddamn George Shunick, get Silva's balls out of your mouth. This is not a breakdown. An actual breakdown should consist of what each fighter needs to do in order to win the fight. This is just a one-sided piece of garbage where you already (with more than 24hrs to go before the fight) have planted the seeds for all the excuses that Silva will lose if (and hopefully when) Sonnen takes his title. If you are going to write articles, try and stay an little unbiased. Biased shit is for the comments section.
newdeal- July 6, 2012 at 9:30 am
This may be the worst breakdown I have ever read. It breaks down nothing in any detail and goes on and on about an injury Silva supposedly had that no one knows the severity of
MKO- July 6, 2012 at 9:29 am
Sonnen will lose by virtue of tucking a t-shirt into workout pants. Really?
beef_kurtains- July 6, 2012 at 9:06 am
Sonnen with the bizarre first round KO with a glancing punch to the temple of Silva. Sonnen promptly thanks Silva for his efforts, tells brazil to go F themselves and retires from the sport and holes up in West Linn.
tommyhammerstones- July 6, 2012 at 9:04 am
Sonnen by uppercut elbow after takedown. He will split Silvas jawbone in two right through his chin. Silva's mouth piece will oooze out. Sonnen will continue his g-n-p, unaware that Silva is dead.

Post fight; Sonnen breaks down, crys, throws the belt on the ground drops to hin knees and asks the lord for forgiveness. He later launches an anti MMA movement, becomes a Democrat.
Fried Taco- July 6, 2012 at 8:35 am
Silva wins via bitch slap.