Silva vs Sonnen: Why the Bitter Rivals Actually Share a Lot in Common
At a glance, Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva couldn't have less in common. One man comes across as a cocky loudmouth, while the other carries himself as a respectful martial artist. One man is primarily a kickboxer, while the other is primarily a wrestler. One man fights for America, while the other fights for Brazil. One man is considered the greatest of all time by adoring fans, while the other is reviled for having possibly misused testosterone replacement therapy.
But there's always more than meets the eye. The following article will discuss ten reasons why the two archenemies actually have a lot in common.
Reason 1: Fighting for a Loved One
Chael Sonnen with his mother. Credit: Sherdog.net
Anderson Silva's aunt, who had raised him as an adoptive son, passed away shortly before his first bout with Chael Sonnen. As shown in the award-winning documentary Like Water, Silva dedicated his victory to her memory.
The challenger has a very similar story. In 2002, Sonnen promised his dying father that he would one day become a world champion in the UFC.
Reason 2: Being Among the Older Athletes in the Sport
Hanging up the gloves, is it really that far away for either man? Credit: christianrenaud.com
At ages 37 and 35 respectively, Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen aren't exactly young, especially for the demanding sport that they excel at.
It should not come as a surprise if the declines of both men happen in the near future. That might seem implausible for the two best middleweights in the business.
But at the end of the day, no athlete can escape father time. Just look back at Chuck Liddell's career. He was the champion right up until being knocked out in five of six fights and forced into retirement.
Reason 3: Falling Victim to Hail Mary Submissions
Ryo Chonan submits Anderson Silva with a flying heel hook. Credit: mmamania.com
In American football, a Hail Mary pass is a long forward pass thrown in desperation with little chance for success, and it's meant to turn around a losing situation. The equivalent in mixed martial arts would be a crazy submission attempt.
The running joke with Chael Sonnen is that he dominates opponents with his ground-and-pound, thinks he's on his way to a win and then winds up losing to an unexpected submission. To the amusement of many Anderson Silva fans, three of Sonnen's four UFC losses have come by way of triangle choke.
Back in 2004, Ryo Chonan submitted Silva with a flying scissors takedown followed by a heel hook. Chonan was winning the fight up until that point so it wasn't exactly a last resort turnaround. But it was so unexpected and crazy that the audience experienced the same emotional response that would've accompanied a Hail Mary submission.
Reason 4: Unorthodox Coaching Claims
The coaches collaborate on an upcoming action film. Credit: stevenseagal.com
Anderson Silva made waves in the mixed martial arts media by crediting Steven Seagal with teaching him the front kick that knocked out Vitor Belfort. Seagal continues to claim that he is teaching Silva's team, Black House, devastating secret moves that have never been seen in the UFC before.
In a recent interview with Off The Record, Chael Sonnen mysteriously claimed that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was his strength/conditioning coach and that he wasn't allowed to talk too much about it.
The WWE superstar and martial arts actor both have some pretty slick choreographed fight scenes. It's tough to say who has the coaching edge.
Reason 5: Rib Injuries
Chael Sonnen's deformed rib. Credit: tapology.com
Anderson Silva cited preexisting rib injuries as a factor in his poor takedown defense against Chael Sonnen. Silva claims that Satoshi Ishii, a judo gold medallist in the 2008 Olympic Games, accidentally injured him in training and that he fought Sonnen against his doctor's orders.
Sonnen has never been convinced by this excuse.
All he had to say was "your ribs got the same problem your hands and feet do: they're attached to a wimp." And he's one of the few people in the world who can truly say that he's experienced what Silva claimed to be going through.
In a 2004 fight with Terry Martin, Sonnen received a badly broken rib that did not grow back properly. The end result was a red badge of courage that Sonnen permanently wears on his rib cage. It is in plain sight at every weigh-in.
Reason 6: Fighting for Their Teammates
Just another day at Team Quest. Credit: mmatko.com
Anderson Silva despises Chael Sonnen for likening a black belt under the Nogueira brothers to a McDonald's happy meal.
Silva goes so far as to claim that he deliberately chose to win UFC 117 by submission and not by knockout, because he wanted to defend the Nogueira brothers' honor. It's more likely that he won with what was available to him.
On the other hand, Sonnen has seen two beloved teammates fall to Silva. It's hard to imagine that avenging Dan Henderson and Yushin Okami aren't on his mind as he prepares for UFC 148.
Reason 7: Involvement in the Food Service Industry
Before his mixed martial arts career, Anderson Silva worked a humble job at McDonald's. He now makes commercials for Burger King.
Chael Sonnen recently bought a local pizza restaurant that was going out of business. He then decided to troll everyone by renaming it Mean Street Pizza.
Reason 8: Unparalleled Dominance
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Win-loss records only tell part of the story. A win could be a narrow victory following a back-and-forth battle. A win could also involve one fighter being dominant from start to finish.
Neither Anderson Silva nor Chael Sonnen are fighters that merely edge out their opponents.
According to FightMetric, Anderson Silva holds the UFC records for significant strike accuracy (68.5 percent) and total knockdowns landed (15).
During the Michael Bisping fight, Joe Rogan mentioned that Chael Sonnen held the UFC record for percentage of time spent in a dominant position. These statistics speak for themselves. Other middleweights just can't handle Silva's striking or Sonnen's wrestling.
To make it even more frustrating for their victims, both of them are very hard to hit. Silva's ridiculous ability to dodge strikes is legendary. In a promotional trailer for UFC 148, it was mentioned that Sonnen only absorbs 1.09 significant strikes per minute and is the least hit fighter in middleweight history.
This level of dominance is what Sonnen would call a one-sided pounding with him swinging the hammer.
Reason 9: Success at Light Heavyweight
Anderson Silva beats down James Irvin. Credit: bloodyelbow.com
Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen are both large middleweights that cut a lot of weight to meet the 185-lbs limit. Not surprisingly, they have both competed at light heavyweight at various points.
Sonnen actually began his career as a light heavyweight and managed to capture the Danger Zone, Gladiator Challenge and Hitman belts. He dropped down to middleweight after losing his UFC debut to Renato Sobral.
Some paint a picture of Sonnen being beaten out of the light heavyweight division due to a lack of talent. However, it should be noted that Sobral is arguably the greatest submission artist in light heavyweight history and had two title shots against Chuck Liddell.
Watching the actual tape also reveals that it was a fairly competitive fight. Overall, Sonnen was a reasonably successful light heavyweight.
Silva's two forays into light heavyweight have resulted in first-round beatdowns of James Irvin and Forrest Griffin. Utterly destroying a former UFC light heavyweight champion is a powerful statement.
Silva's time at light heavyweight may have been limited, but it's probably safe to say that he would have been quite successful.
Reason 10: Interest in Crafting Fiction Stories
In a recent video blog, Anderson Silva revealed that his favorite hobby is to write Batman fan fiction. He believes the Batman universe needs more stories exploring Bruce Wayne's life as an old man and less Christopher Nolan movies.
Chael Sonnen, on the other hand, crafts fiction stories about real people.
Instead of writing about his favorite superhero, he makes up outlandish stories for the sake of attacking various celebrities.
He claimed that Lance Armstrong gave himself cancer through steroid use and then vehemently denied it when confronted by Jim Rome.
His tale about the Nogueira brothers is even stranger. Apparently Sonnen happened to be in Vegas when the Nogueiras first came to the US and witnessed them attempting to feed a bus a carrot because they thought it was a horse.