Has Chael Sonnen Become This Generation's Matt Serra?
Last Saturday saw the most important event in UFC history as Anderson Silva faced off against Chael Sonnen for a second time. After their original bout at UFC 117 and almost two years of trash talk from Sonnen, to say fans were chomping at the bit to see this rematch would be a huge understatement. Yet once again, Sonnen fell victim to “The Spider” and lost via TKO in the second round.
After watching the match and seeing the fallout from the matches, I couldn't help but see comparisons between Silva/Sonnen and GSP/Serra. While many will be quick to say that the two feuds are nothing alike, slow down and step back to see how similar they actually are.
In the buildup to St. Pierre's first title defense, the UFC gave the shot to Matt Serra, who had just won the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter, which made many fans not think of him as a legitimate contender to GSP's belt. This was similar to Sonnen who many saw his jump into contention as the UFC's way to throw someone at Silva who at that point had just blown through the Middleweight division.
If you look at Sonnen when he got the shot, he only had a three-win streak going—granted he had a strong win over Nate Marquardt—as compared to guys like Thales Leites, Patrick Cote and Marquardt, who had much longer streaks before getting title shots.
This lack of credibility would even show in the odds for the fights as for GSP/Serra I; GSP was a -1100 favorite and Serra was a +700 underdog. In the case of the first Silva/Sonnen fight, it was -450 for Silva and +325 for Sonnen.
Then came fight night and people's opinions about these fighters were changed very quickly. Serra would go on to shock the world by TKO in the first round. For Sonnen—while he would end up losing his match with less than two minutes in the fight—up until that point, he was dominating Silva using his wrestling and ground and pound and would have won the fight had he not been submitted.
What's next for Chael?
Yet just as soon as the matches were done, the talk of Serra and Sonnen being flukes began. Most of it first centered on the champions overlooking their challengers, which would eventually fuel the rematches, but with Sonnen it was pushed more after his testosterone levels were revealed and his other legal issues came to light as he was suspended by CSAC.
Serra would begin to talk himself up as he prepared for his first title defense, which would end up being a rematch against GSP, while Sonnen would trash Silva every chance he got and it only increased after he returned to the UFC and beat Brian Stann and Michael Bisping.
As the rematches came closer, the hype train went into full effect from all parties involved. The matches were promised to be better than the originals and Serra and Sonnen were going to prove that the first matches weren't flukes. Yet that wasn't to be, as both would be finished by their opponents, Serra would lose via TKO and Sonnen would lose that way as well.
After his loss, Serra would only have three more matches in the UFC, including a win over Frank Trigg and losses to Matt Hughes and Chris Lytle, and at this point it seems he may end up retiring.
Now it's up to Chael to let the fans now what happens next. With Anderson Silva still sitting atop the Middleweight throne, it is very unlikely that Sonnen would get a third match against him for the title, especially since he was finished in both fights.
Sonnen could always move back up to Light Heavyweight so that he wouldn't have to cut as much weight and thus try to rejuvenate his career. He may end up staying at Middleweight while crossing his fingers in hopes of getting another title shot, but again that seems very unlikely.
The next fight will be very telling for Sonnen and where he wants to take his career. If the stigma of losing to Silva twice takes its toll, Chael may ultimately decide to resign himself to an announcing role rather than that of a fighter similar to Kenny Florian, who also never seemed to break out in those big fights.
But with everything that has happened these past couple of years, has Sonnen's mouth made him into the biggest fluke in MMA history?
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