At first glance this sounds like a stupid question.
Chael Sonnen has showed throughout his career an inability to defend against submissions, with 7 of his 10 losses coming by way of submission.
This fact, coupled with the fact Anderson Silva is a BJJ black belt under the Nogueira brothers, suggest Anderson Silva's victory is a foregone conclusion, especially when you consider the advantage he has in the stand up.
Silva's striking is far superior to Sonnen's and his accuracy and power are arguably the deadliest in the sport. It is therefore widely accepted that Sonnen's only ticket to the title is to grind out a 5 round decision or to ground 'n' pound Silva in to submission.
Many would argue against this point suggesting Sonnen is destined to lose this fight regardless of where it takes place as a result of his inability to defend against submissions.
But is it fair to suggest than Sonnen would not win the ground fight.
Despite Sonnen's 7 losses to submissions and previous disrespect he's shown to BJJ it should be noted that these submission losses were nearly all to fighters viewed to a certain extent as submission specialists.
A submission specialist Silva is not. His only submission victory on record is his victory over Dan Henderson.
Whilst on the topic of Henderson it should be mentioned that many use Silva's victory over a wrestler of Olympic standard such as Henderson as an example of how he copes with wrestlers. Henderson however is a Greco-Roman silver medalist, a style which along with Henderson's MMA fighting style is significantly different to Sonnen's to allow fair comparison.
The question as to whether Silva can submit Sonnen on the ground is therefore much more difficult than it first seemed.
Yes Silva is a black belt and yes Sonnen has showed poor submission defence in the past. But on the other hand these losses in Sonnen's past were against much more well aversed in submissions than Silva. Similarly it should also be pointed out that just as Sonnen has been caught against top level submission artists he has similarly beaten several.
Whether or not Anderson Silva is not the only question to ask when analysing the fight
Even if Sonnen controls the pace on the ground surely he'll get caught standing at least once in 25 minutes?
Again, sounds like another stupid question.
Or is it.
Sonnen has never once been knocked out in his 35 fight career and don't be surprised if Sonnen doesn't throw one strike on his feet all five rounds, thus avoiding Silva's counter striking capabilities.
Such a game plan that makes perfect sense and provided he can avoid Silva's clinch, it may prove much more difficult than anticipated for Silva to knock him out. After all Anderson Silva has shown on numerous occasions his frustrations when fighters don't provide him with the opportunity to counter strike, a fact fans are all to familiar with.
I'm not bold enough to predict a Sonnen victory.
However I will say that I believe Sonnen's style poses a real test to Silva and the result of this fight is by no means a foregone conclusion.