The arrival of fight week often brings a sense of anticipation for those of us who travel to cover it. The feeling never really goes away, no matter how big or small the event may be.
I think this is because we've all been conditioned to know that we'll probably see something we hadn't anticipated. Whether it's a unique moment brought about by the various media obligations we attend—such as press conferences or open workouts—or a surprising result on the fight card itself, we've learned to expect the unexpected.
But this week is different.
Rarely is the UFC able to present a main event with the weight of Saturday's title fight between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. Lately, it seems like one thing or another is preventing us from seeing truly the big fights take place. Drug test failures and injuries have wrecked plenty of big fights over the past 12 months—so much so that we're not even surprised when something goes wrong. It's normal.
But Silva vs. Sonnen 2 is happening, barring some kind of freak fight-week accident. And yes, I'm knocking on wood at a furious pace right now.
Much of the heft of Silva vs. Sonnen comes from the deeply personal rivalry they've developed over the past two years.
It comes from hearing all of the terrible things Sonnen has said about Silva, his country, his training partners and his family. It comes from knowing that Sonnen came so very close to becoming the first man to beat Silva. It comes from reliving that magical first fight over and over again, from the four dominant Sonnen rounds to that miracle moment when Silva pulled out the submission win, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
We haven't seen a rivalry like this in a long time. And maybe we've never seen a UFC rivalry quite like this one. The last big main event I can remember with this much anticipation and heat was the heavyweight title fight between Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar, way back at UFC 100, and I'm not sure it's even comparable to what we will see on Saturday night.
I leave for Las Vegas tomorrow morning. Matt Roth is already stationed in Vegas, and Jonathan Snowden will join us tomorrow afternoon. We'll be providing a ton of written stories and video content, and we'll be updating this fight week diary on a daily basis with notes from behind the scenes.