UFC 148: What We Learned from Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

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UFC 148: What We Learned from Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Throw another shrimp on the barbie.

After months of bodily threats and transcontinental trash talk, Anderson Silva made it look easy in defeating Chael Sonnen by TKO to retain the UFC middleweight championship. 

In their first fight, Chael Sonnen's momentary lapse in judgment led to a submission victory for Anderson Silva. In their rematch at UFC 148, the lapse happened on the feet, but led to the same result.

As in their first engagement, in the first round Sonnen used his wrestling to control the action. Early in the second round Sonnen tilted so far off balance after missing a spinning backfist that he fell to the canvas.

Without missing a beat, "The Spider" threw the full force of his weight behind his right knee and buried it in Sonnen's sternum. Silva's fists found the spaces in Sonnen's cover and forced referee Yves Lavigne to stop the fight at 1:55 of the second round.  

"There was big emotion," Silva (32-4) told broadcaster Joe Rogan after the fight. But then he seemed to bury his months-long beef with Sonnen, inviting him to a barbecue at his home.

After months of putting heat on the champion, at UFC 148 it was Sonnen's turn to get raked over the coals. But despite the pre-fight vitriol, Sonnen was charitable and candid in defeat. 

"They gave me the opportunity. Nobody owes me anything. He's a true champion, man," Sonnen (27-12-1) told Rogan. "...He got in with a good knee."

 

What We'll Remember from This Fight

It was a good fight, but relatively anticlimactic given the long buildup. It is hard to fault Sonnen for a decision made in the heat of the moment, but if you give Anderson Silva an opening, you get a TKO in return. It's as certain as making change.

 

What We Learned About Anderson Silva

How many times can you say he's the greatest fighter in the world? How about one more. Silva needed only 26 seconds from the time Sonnen fell to break his seemingly unbreakable challenger. You could see it on Sonnen's face when his backside hit the mat, an "oh crap" moment where he understood his own vulnerability. He continued to fight gamely, but he had already let the monster in. 

 

What We Learned About Chael Sonnen

He's a great fighter and is good for the sport. But he's never going to wear a championship belt.

 

What's Next for Anderson Silva

The greatest MMA fighter ever needs a new challenge. Sure, you could gather up some challengers at middleweight. Maybe the winner of Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman, or Vitor Belfort if he comes back healthy and wins his next fight.

But the writing is on the wall, and these fights, to me, don't hold a lot of intrigue. If this isn't a cleaned-out division, I guess I don't know what such a thing looks like.

Silva has said he wants showcase fights. Those fights are at light heavyweight. Mauricio Rua. Phil Davis. Rashad Evans. Jon Jones. Silva has always seemed ambivalent about such a move, but has never fully closed the door. Now's the time for him to walk through.

 

What's Next for Chael Sonnen

Sonnen has been maniacally focused on one man for the past two-and-a-half years or so. So what does he do now? Silva killed the rivalry, burned it on his barbecue grill, then buried the ashes in a location known only to himself and Ed Soares. Sonnen has to move on.

How does he do that?

How does he avoid being the guy who couldn't walk the talk? Alllllll of that talk. To make matters worse, he seems significantly better than every middleweight in the UFC not named Anderson Silva.

Doesn't mean there aren't good fights to make, of course. The winner of Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard would be a great one. 

But Sonnen himself chose Anderson Silva as his one and only white whale. He'll need to figure out how to get back to shore with a broken oar and raft of shattered timbers. 

For updates and things from UFC 148 and MMA in general, follow Scott Harris on Twitter @ScottHarrisMMA. 

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