Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen: 5 Reasons Why Sonnen Will Beat Down Silva
The statement I just made is not entirely original. In fact, it has been made many times over the past few months.
And each time it has been made its speaker has been classified by the MMA masses as one of three things—correct, unashamedly bias against Silva or moronic.
For those who agree with the statement, read on for vindication.
For those who want to go the "moron" route, read the following five points. If you don't like what you see, leave your love letter in the comments section and I'll order you a slice of humble pie Saturday night, on me.
For those of you convinced that the only reason someone would pick Silva to lose a fight is because he or she has an undying hatred for the Spider be forewarned—I've barricaded my doors, secured my perimeter, hired a full complement of mercenary body guards and latched down the chin strap on my old school leather football helmet.
So go on, test me. I dare you.
Or, take my word that I think Silva is an awesome mixed martial artist. Quite possibly the greatest ever. It's your call.
But even the best lose sometimes in this sport. And at UFC 148, Anderson's Silva's unprecedented UFC title reign will finally come to an end.
How can I be so sure? For the following five reasons, that's how.
Sonnen's Wrestling Will Control the Fight
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The first time that Silva and Sonnen faced off the Spider spent most of the contest on his back. Eventually, he sunk in a triangle choke from that position to retain his UFC title, but that doesn't mean it's a position he will want to reprise at UFC 148.
On the contrary, Silva will do everything he can to keep the fight standing. The only problem is that his efforts will be in vain.
Sonnen rag-dolled Silva for 23-and-a-half minutes last time the two fought and there is no reason to suspect he won't replicate that success for every second of fight No. 2.
Top position is a double-edged sword for Sonnen, who is able to control opponents like no one else in MMA, but unable to consistently defend submission attempts.
Still, his ability to consistently get there highlights three probable outcomes: a smothering decision victory, a stoppage victory via strikes or submission, or a submission loss.
The odds are therefore 2:1 in Sonnen's favor when he is on top of Silva.
Additionally, spending time in Silva's guard means Sonnen need not worry about the Spider's best weapon, which is his striking.
Silva's Striking Will Be Nullified
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Silva's best singular skill is clearly his striking. Sonnen's best singular skill is clearly his wrestling.
Ergo, Sonnen will use his skill to take Silva down, and remove the Brazilian's best skill from factoring strongly into the fight.
What can Silva do to stop Sonnen's wrestling?
So what can he do to keep his striking in the equation?
OK, that's oversimplifying things. Each round starts on the feet and despite Sonnen's considerable wrestling edge takedowns are not automatic.
Silva will have his chance to do damage on the feet, but the time that is afforded to him will be very limited.
Furthermore, the threat of Sonnen's wrestling will mitigate the effectiveness of Silva's striking during those opportunities.
Because Silva knows that it will only take a split second for Sonnen to take the fight to the ground he will have to be more conservative than usual when throwing his hands. If he isn't, then the time he has to score a knockout will be even shorter than Sonnen's wrestling inherently allows.
Oh, and as an afterthought, remember that Sonnen outstruck Silva in the first match.
Sonnen's Chin Will Hold If Tested
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Silva is capable of knocking Sonnen out if he hits him with a flush punch, elbow, knee or kick, but the chances of that happening at UFC 148 are quite slim.
Slim because Sonnen's chin is very solid. Slim because Silva will only have tiny windows of time where he is able to throw with everything he's got.
The threat of Sonnen's wrestling will make Silva hesitant to go all out. The execution of Sonnen's wrestling will prohibit any sort of striking from Silva for long periods of time. And those brief opportunities that Silva actually will have will meet with firm resistance from an iron jaw.
Sonnen has never been knocked out before. Over his career he has been defeated twice by TKO, but one of those losses was the result of a cut, the other of a corner stoppage.
Besides, Sonnen's wrestling will prevent Silva from doing the type of damage he is capable of doing. The little bit that sneaks through is an amount that Sonnen's chin is more than capable of absorbing.
Even in Losing, the First Fight Gives Sonnen Confidence
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Though Silva got the win, Sonnen knows that he can beat Silva as a result of the last fight.
Before expanding, allow me to address the qualifiers that people love to mention.
Yes, Sonnen failed his post-fight drug test last time. And yes, Silva fought with an injured rib.
What detractors usually fail to mention is that Sonnen is 5-1 in the UFC in fights for which he has passed the drug test, and none of those wins were gimmes.
Also mentioned only rarely is that fighters often compete whilst injured. Can those who excuse Silva's near-loss by pointing to his injury promise me that he will be 100 percent this time around? If not, then Silva's injury is irrelevant.
Moving past the condemnations Sonnen is often faced with, he dominated Silva in their first match.
Sonnen knows he can take the fight to the mat at will. He knows that he can take Silva's shots. Heck, he even knows he can strike with Silva, albeit it in small doses.
The only thing Sonnen was unable to stop was Silva's triangle.
When you juxtapose that lone deficiency with Silva's list of worries—stopping the takedown, the throw, ground and pound and Sonnen's striking, clearly there is good reason for Sonnen to be confident.
For Silva, not so much, aside from that whole being amazing thing.
Sonnen Has Got into Silva's Head
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Silva will enter UFC 148's main event with a mindset different than the one that has made him the best mixed martial artist on the planet.
In a promotional conference call prior to UFC 148, Silva had this to say of his opponent:
What I'm going to do inside the Octagon is something that's going to change the image of the sport. I'm going to make sure every one of his teeth are broken, his arms are broken, his legs are broken. He's not going to be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself. I can guarantee that.
Silva has made a career out of fighting methodically, which means this is not only uncharacteristic, but potentially problematic for the champ.
Maybe his anger will not affect his performance. Maybe it will. Only time will tell.
But at this point it looks pretty certain that Sonnen has gotten to Silva and that is not a good thing for a fighter who is used to approaching competition in a completely dissimilar manner.
Hat tip to MMAWeekly for recording the UFC conference call (Silva's comments around the 18:00 mark).