Silva vs. Sonnen II: Key Takeaways for Silva from the First Fight
UFC 117 was the much-publicized first battle that nearly saw the end of Anderson Silva's long reign atop the UFC's middleweight division.
Chael Sonnen dominated with wrestling and ground and pound until he was caught in a triangle choke late in the fifth and final round.
When the two meet with bad intentions on Saturday, Silva will need to use what he learned from the first fight to ensure another title defense.
Here are five key takeaways from their first fight at UFC 117.
5. Chael Backs His Talk Up
Many of Silva's opponents are beat before the fight.
Even if they talk a big game, they enter the cage apprehensively and leave systematically dismantled—without putting up much of a fight.
Sonnen was different.
Sonnen was not afraid of The Spider. He marched across the cage and immediately got in Silva's face. He attacked.
Silva's other opponents played into Silva's gameplan and stayed on the outside, reacting instead of acting.
Silva now knows that it is Sonnen's style to come right at him with no hesitation.
Sonnen may talk a lot, but he also makes sure to back it up inside the Octagon.
4. Be Active off Your Back
The likelihood of Silva being taken down is high.
Sonnen is a fantastic wrestler, and on the ground, he is active with ground and pound.
As he showed in the Brian Stann fight, he can also finish with submissions of his own.
Silva is one of the better fighters in the submission department, but he needs to be aware of all dangers coming from the challenger.
As the first fight showed, he will need to watch for the ground and pound.
FightMetric.com's stats have the total number of strikes landed from Sonnen at 320, the majority of which was thrown on the ground.
When Silva is on his back, he must be active.
The more he attacks from the bottom, the more Sonnen has to defend. That gives him less time and space to throw strikes.
No matter what speed the punches come, he cannot take that amount of punishment in the second fight.
3. Be Prepared to Go Five
If Silva expected Sonnen to fade in their first encounter, he was wrong.
Sonnen kept a high pace for all five rounds, so Silva will need to be prepared for that on Saturday.
Though all signs point to this not being an issue for the champion, Silva had never been pushed deep into a fight in the UFC, outside of the UFC 117.
His decision wins over Thales Leites and Demian Maia, who offered very little action. It was action he controlled.
Chael Sonnen's style and attack maintain constant pressure on his opponents. Moreover, he is trained to go the distance when necessary.
The Spider should expect to be pushed once more.
2. Manage the Distance
From the bell, Sonnen closed the distance and did not let the champion get comfortable on his feet.
Silva cannot allow this to happen in the second meeting.
If he is able to defend the takedown attempts, he needs to circle away and get back to a striking distance where he is comfortable and out of arm's reach from Sonnen.
The former Olympic alternate in Greco-Roman wrestling is just as good getting the fight to the ground from the clinch.
Silva, at distance, is the most dangerous fighter in MMA. That is where he wants the fight, and after suffering through five rounds of Sonnen's pressure in Oakland, he will want to make the adjustments to avoid it on Saturday.
1. Sonnen's Striking
The most shocking part of UFC 117's meeting between the two rivals was Sonnen getting the better of some of the striking exchanges. This includes rocking the champion in the first round.
The shock was visible in the champion's eyes. He was not expecting to be rocked by Sonnen.
It may have caught the champion off guard, but on Saturday he will know what Sonnen's abilities are.
Chael's game may have been a surprise to some, but now it is not.
Silva can take note of it on the film and decide how he will alter his approach in the rematch, but for now, Sonne's striking is the biggest key that he should take away from the first fight.
Complacency has no place in MMA.
Sonnen showed his hand at UFC 117 and now, the pound-for-pound best in the sport can use that information and make the adjustments for his next encounter with Sonnen on Saturday night.