Anderson Silva, the longest-reigning UFC middleweight champion in the organization's history, will reign for a few months longer. Maybe years. Maybe forever.
His latest title defense extends his record in the category to 10 in a row. Another four victories in non-title bouts—two of which came at light heavyweight—makes the Spider a perfect 15-0 in the UFC, home to the best mixed martial artists on the planet. Toss in one more victory for Anderson before he made his Octagon debut, and you've got a 16-fight undefeated streak that dates all the way back to January of 2006.
It's currently July of 2012. That's a long time.
On the other hand, Chael Sonnen—the man, the myth, the legend—is dead.
Mind you, not the real Chael Sonnen.
That guy is alive and well. He's beaten and bruised, but still drawing breath and presumably urinating into a cup somewhere given his history (h/t Josh Gross, SI.com). But the trash-talking phenomenon who the globe came to know during his 30-month verbal assault on the Spider? The one whose brash taunts became world-famous and made him despised in Brazil (not to mention elsewhere)?
That version is done.
At least it should be.
Chael earned a degree of latitude for his antics when he walked the walk for four-plus rounds after talking the talk in the run-up to his first matchup with Silva at UFC 117. Sure, he ended up losing that scrap when the champion locked up a triangle choke with a side of armbar for the latest stoppage in UFC history, but Sonnen and his fans have never bothered with details.
And in their defense, it must've felt like the Oregon native had won when you consider how much further and harder the American challenger pushed the Brazilian kingpin, who had been relatively unchallenged until that night in Oakland, California.
Consequently, you could forgive Sonnen for parading around in the months that followed, calling himself the real 185-pound champion, even toting around a faux title belt at one point.
Now, however, it's time to close the book on that character.
Sonnen's had two chances to grab the real strap, and although he came close, he didn't complete the transaction.
Many observers bought into the hype and predicted he would.
They pointed to Chael's first tilt with Anderson, pointed to his incredible drive, pointed to his borderline obsession with the middleweight champion and figured this was his time. It's long been assumed that the gladiator to finally knock the Spider off his gilded web would be an unparalleled wrestler with enough standup to threaten Silva on his feet and enough of a chin to withstand the inevitable sniper's salvo.
Chael Sonnen answers to all those descriptions.
But there were a few inconvenient truths that those observers failed, or refused, to take into account.
Such as the fact that Sonnen blew his post-UFC 117 drug test out of the water, showing a testosterone-to-epitestosterone level of 16.9:1 (the average male comes in at 1:1 while a 4:1 ratio is allowable). Or the fact that Silva came into that initial bout noticeably slowed by a rib injury.
Or the fact that Chael authored basically the perfect fight against the 185-pound champ for about 23 minutes and still lost.
Suffice it to say, the rematch did not go as smoothly.
Is Anderson Silva the greatest fighter in the history of the sport?
Anderson, who was visibly irate at both the pre-fight press conference and weigh-ins, got a kiss from Steven Seagal and then ate an early takedown from the challenger. The champ didn't make good on his guarantee to stop Sonnen in the first round—in fact, he lost the first rather badly, as the American spent almost its entirety on top of the Brazilian.
But Sonnen wasn't able to do much of anything on the ground until a few solid shots found their mark with about 90 seconds left in the first round.
Perhaps it was purely theatrics, but he trotted to his (wrong) corner almost as if the first-round drubbing was part of the game plan. Either way, Silva didn't look particularly worried.
Turns out he shouldn't have been because the second round went decidedly worse for Chael.
Sonnen walked Silva down and tried for another takedown, but Anderson stuffed it and things fell apart from there. He put a few good licks on his opponent, stuffed a few more shots and then took full advantage of a wild spinning backfist that sent Chael tumbling to the canvas.
A leaping knee found his adversary's chest, and then a flurry of heavy right hands finished the matter at only 1:55 of the second stanza.
The show wasn't quite over, though.
Anderson Silva showed the MMA world exactly why he is such a beloved champion and arguably the greatest mixed martial artist the world has ever seen.
Given a chance to rub his mouthy prey's nose in the defeat, Silva backed off his pre-fight vitriol.
In front of the MGM Grand Garden crowd, with its significant contingent of Brazilian and pro-Brazilian fans and two of his sons looking on, Silva invited Sonnen into the winner's circle. Speaking in English and in Portuguese, he appealed to the crowd for restraint and respect on behalf of the vanquished. He even showed a bit of hospitality, inviting Chael to a barbecue at his house in a good-natured dig at one of the challenger's more notorious sound bites.
But give Sonnen some credit, too—he took the defeat like a man and even offered a rare moment of realism when referring to Silva:
"That's a true champion, man."
Yes. Yes, he is.