UFC 148 Preview: 3 Questions Heading into Silva vs. Sonnen 2
It's the biggest UFC event of the year, and it's only a little more than 48 hours away.
On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Chael Sonnen will finally get his long-awaited rematch with Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title. Anticipation here in Las Vegas is high, and UFC fans around the world are ready for action.
Let's take a closer look at three questions I have leading into one of the biggest fights in UFC history.
Is Anderson Silva actually angry, or is he just selling a fight?
For the longest time, Anderson Silva refused to respond to the barbs Chael Sonnen flung his way.
This was highlighted in Like Water, the excellent documentary that covered Silva's preparation for his first bout with Sonnen. During the UFC 117 media conference call, Silva was curt with his answers, refusing to offer much in the way of rebuttals or even in-depth answers to legitimate questions.
Silva's manager, Ed Soares, shook his head and said he didn't know whether Silva didn't understand the fight promotion business or if he just didn't care.
That all changed two weeks ago during the media call for UFC 148.
A very different Silva emerged, angrily calling Sonnen a cheater and describing in great detail the amount of personal pain he planned on causing his opponent on Saturday night. Silva continued his verbal attack during Tuesday's press conference and then did his best to invade Sonnen's personal space during the faceoff.
The question is: Is Silva actually angry, or did he finally come to the realization that he needed to do his part in promoting the fight?
I think he's angry.
Silva has never been concerned with selling fights. It's just not in his nature. He cares about the martial arts aspect of the sport, and that's about it. Even when his paycheck is dependent upon the success of the pay-per-view—like many others, Silva receives a portion of the profits from the broadcast—he has shown little desire to hype his fights.
This is an angry Silva. It took a long time to build up, but it finally bubbled over. It's legitimate, and it's a little scary.
Will that anger cost Silva the fight?
We've seen slightly angry versions of Silva in the past. We saw it during his bouts with Demian Maia and Vitor Belfort, both of whom Silva felt disrespected by, and for very different reasons.
And the resulting fights were very different. His bout with Maia was one of the worst in UFC history, while the Belfort fight produced one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history.
This is a different type of anger, but how will it affect Silva during the actual fight?
It's hard to say.
If Silva loses his mind in the cage and tries to destroy Sonnen early, it could leave him prone to making big mistakes. Bloodlust can be a very bad thing in a cage fight, and Sonnen will no doubt capitalize on those mistakes.
I think Silva is a brilliant fighter. And I think he's smart enough to realize that he can't abandon his discipline and his game plan in an effort to, as he so eloquently said, "break all of his bones."
Who wins the fight?
Make your prediction: Who wins on Saturday night?
I've done an informal poll of various friends in the media on this fight, and I'm shocked at how many are picking Sonnen to win. This is hardly scientific, but I'd say that roughly 80 percent are picking the challenger to take the belt back to Oregon.
I can't side with them. And I can't pick against Silva.
Sonnen has a very real chance to win this fight. I think the early portions of the fight are going to be eerily similar to the first fight, with Sonnen putting Silva on his back and keeping him there. And I do believe Sonnen will take at least two rounds, perhaps three.
But in the end, Silva is the best fighter in the history of the sport for a reason, and I think he'll recover from an early Sonnen assault and finish the fight via strikes in the third round.
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