There is no doubting that Anderson Silva is the one of the most dominant champions in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He became the middleweight champion in only his second bout with the MMA promotion and has successfully defended his title seven times to date.
Dana White has stated that Silva has two more fights before he “cleans out the middleweight division” and makes his highly anticipated move up to light heavyweight.
Standing in his way are two very viable opponents, though: Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort.
Now while a move up to light heavyweight makes sense, there is one thing people are taking for granted. Most assume that Silva will have no problems taking out Sonnen and Belfort.
I'm not one of the "most."
Here are two very bold predictions:
1. Anderson Silva will not clean out the middleweight division.
2. Chael Sonnen will be the one who dethrones “The Spider” when they face off at UFC 117 in August.
And no, I’m not crazy, I’m not joking around, and I’m not “Rick Rolling” anyone.
I can guarantee that most of you who are reading this are thinking “You have got to be kidding me! Silva will destroy Sonnen and Belfort!”
Now, please allow me to present my case.
In Silva’s last three title defenses, he has not had the killer instinct that he displayed when he won the title and defended it for the first few times. He has seemed content on coasting his way to victory while doing some clowning and trash talking in the process.
However, in his two bouts at light heavyweight, he has shown the killer instinct that he had when he first came into the UFC by knocking out James Irvin and former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin in the first round.
This raises a question: Why has he destroyed his opponents at light heavyweight and looked so complacent in his middleweight bouts?
I’m not one of those who believe that he is clowning his opponents and seems unwilling to engage because he believes he is facing inferior competition. I think it has to do with the weight cut he has to make to get down to 185.
Anderson Silva is 35 years old. Gaining weight as you get older is natural. Silva is known to walk around well over 200 pounds. The amount of weight he has to lose in order to make 185 may be more than his body can handle at his age.
This could not only affect his physical prowess but his cardio as well. Take his most recent fight against Demian Maia, for example. Even though he rarely engaged with Maia, it appeared that his gas tank was empty around the midway point of the third round.
This could also explain why he has looked like a different fighter at 205. It seemed as if his punches were more crisp, his movement was faster, and that “edge” that has not been shown recently at 185 was present.
Silva’s body is telling him that it is time for him to make the move to light heavyweight.
Now I would like to explain why I believe Sonnen will be the one to dethrone Silva.
During his run in the UFC, Silva has shown that he is the quintessential well-rounded fighter. However, if he has shown a weakness other than his cardio, it has been his ability to work off his back.
Sonnen could easily be considered as one of the top four wrestlers in the UFC; if he wants to get you down, he will get you down. You could put the takedown abilities of Josh Koscheck, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Fitch, and Chael Sonnen in any order and one would have a difficult time making an argument as to who is better and why.
As displayed in his match against Nate Marquardt, Sonnen has the ability to take a great fighter down, pound them with punches, and break their will.
Sonnen doesn’t have the glossiest record, but he hasn't lost to any "chumps." Out of his 10 losses, nine came by way of submission. Silva has won one fight (yes, only one fight) by submission. If Sonnen's Achilles' heel is his submission defense, I do not believe this will be something he will have to worry about.
The one problem Sonnen could have is Silva’s early storm. But if you look at Sonnen’s record, he has never been knocked out and his only TKO loss came from Terry Martin when his corner threw in the towel.
So now here is how I see the fight going down. I believe it’s going to be far from an exciting fight. I expect to see Silva come out trying to take the fight to Sonnen in the first round.
Given that Sonnen has a solid beard, I believe he will be able to weather the early storm. Sonnen will try to take the fight to the mat, but Silva will be able to defend it for a round and a half or two.
From the third round on, Sonnen will be putting Silva on his back and put on a workman-like performance en route to winning a unanimous decision by scores of 48-47.
The prosecution rests its case.
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