We’re mere hours away from the biggest fight in UFC history, the middleweight title bout between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen.
The rematch has been highly anticipated since Sonnen nearly won the first bout back in August 2010.
That night was the first time that Silva had really ever been even challenged in the Octagon. It was the first time that he looked vulnerable. It was the first time that he looked human.
... and he still won.
At UFC 148, Sonnen will need to be perfect if he hopes to walk away with a win. If he succeeds with the following keys to victory, he could very well be the new UFC middleweight champion.
Like most sports, setting a pace early can make all the difference in the world. But for MMA, it’s even more important than that. It can literally be the difference between winning and losing a fight.
For Chael Sonnen, winning Round 1 needs to be priority number one. He absolutely cannot afford to fall behind in this fight early.
Not only would losing Round 1 give Silva the confidence that he needs, but it could potentially lead to an early knockout loss for the challenger.
After winning the first round, Chael needs to make sure that he does not let up. At all. Ever.
One of the biggest mistakes that Silva’s opponents make is that they try to wait for him to make a mistake. Newsflash: he’s not going to make one!
Sonnen needs to continue to pressure Silva until the final bell. If he doesn’t, he’s going to give Silva that little opening that he needs to either get a knockout or a submission.
For those who watched Sonnen tap to a triangle in the first fight, this “key” might seem a bit weird, but this isn’t just any opponent we’re talking about. We’re talking about Anderson Silva.
Yes, Chael controlled the standup for much of the first fight and he even rocked the champion on numerous occasions. However, that was one fight. Anderson Silva has never looked worse on his feet than he did that night and Sonnen has never looked better.
If Sonnen wants to win, he needs to bring Silva to the ground and control him with his trademark ground-and-pound. He’ll need to stand for awhile in order to do that, but he should not be content with keeping the fight on the feet even if he thinks he’s getting the better of it.
Once the fight gets to the ground, Chael needs to do one thing—avoid the submission! To be even more specific, he needs to keep his eyes open for the triangle that Silva submitted him with 23 months ago.
In his 11 career losses, Sonnen has been submitted eight times. Half of those have come by way of a triangle choke.
It sounds simple to avoid the triangle, but the reality is that Chael needs to be very, very careful against Anderson. He’s known for his standup, but Silva is very, very good on the ground as well.
If Chael can control the game from the top and avoid the triangle choke, however, we will almost certainly be looking at a new UFC middleweight champion.