Before you run off to grab your pitchforks and torches like a bunch of angry villagers, just hear me out.
There is no doubt in my mind that Anderson Silva is one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the Octagon of the UFC, and he is, without question, the most dangerous striker in the sport today.
Silva’s “Ballet of Violence” is truly a sight to behold, but for all his greatness he is not without his flaws.
Aside from his obvious deficiency in the wrestling department, I see Silva’s biggest flaw being his overconfidence and his lack of respect for his opponents.
At UFC 112 we were witness as Silva made a mockery of the sport, dancing and showboating around his opponent, Demian Maia, for five rounds en route to a unanimous decision victory.
I’m not faulting Silva for using caution—Maia does have one of the best submission games in all of MMA—but it was apparent that Silva could have finished off Maia at any moment on foot, and he instead chose to embarrass his opponent, the sport, and himself.
At that moment I realized that Silva was not, and is not, the champion we thought him to be. A true champion doesn’t coast in the spotlight; a true champion looks to send a message every time they compete.
Due to much more than just ability in the cage, UFC 117 is a very dangerous fight for Silva, because, say what you will about him, Chael Sonnen comes to work when that cage door closes.
That workman mentality combined with his wrestling ability makes Sonnen more than just a legitimate threat to Silva’s title; it makes him the favorite in my eyes.
Right now, I see Sonnen as the much hungrier fighter, and a hungry fighter is a dangerous fighter especially when that fighter’s opponent has shown a lax attitude and approach in the cage as of late.
For those who still think that Sonnen pulling out this win is impossible, how many thought the same thing when Frankie Edgar took the lightweight title from BJ Penn? How many envisioned Fabricio Werdum beating Fedor Emelianenko, let alone submitting him in the first round?
We’ve seen Silva in bad positions in the UFC. Both Dan Henderson and Travis Lutter were able to utilize their wrestling ability to get Silva into a less than advantageous position. Unlike Henderson, Sonnen has not fallen in love with his right hand and he has proven time and time again that he won’t gas out like Travis Lutter.
Sonnen doesn’t try to be something he is not in the cage, he just goes in there and imposes his will and does what he is best at—taking the fight to the ground and grinding it out.
When August 7th rolls around, it won’t be Anderson Silva with his hand raised high after the final bell, there will be a new sheriff in town—Chael Sonnen.