Time to see if all the hype was worth it.
I can't tell you how sick I am of that "he's fantastic, I'm the best" sound byte from Sonnen. I don't even particularly care whether it's accurate or not; I've just heard it WAY too many times.
Sonnen enters to "Too Much Fun" by Daryle Singletary. It's a quality tune; part of the "good country" selection at your local music retailer.
The arena goes dark and then explodes as the first strains of Silva's staple entrance music unfurls from the PA. DMX's "Ain't No Sunshine" is so loud and the bass so thick that my heart seems redundant at the moment.
The entire auditorium (outside of media row) is standing in anticipation for a title fight that's been layered in several helpings of grudge.
Other than Fedor Emelianenko's scrap with Fabricio Werdum, this is the most keyed up I've ever seen/heard tens of thousands of fight fans.
Rosenthal is the man for this one.
As Bruce Buffer is fond of reminding us, "It's tiiiiiiiiime!"
Lots of boos for Sonnen, but there are some cheers. The reciprocal is true for the Brazilian.
Pretty intense stare down—Silva’s not looking away this time. He does bow, though, so I guess that’s something.
Silva comes out striking as the crowd erupts into a chant of “Silva, Silva.”
“The Spider” looks eminently untroubled until Sonnen catches him with a big shot and sends Silva wobbling backwards into the fence. Sonnen’s clearly taken some confidence from the exchange and Anderson looks a little unsettled.
More shots are landing from the American as Silva shows no respect for Sonnen’s striking, standing with his hands at his sides and taking blasts to the grill. Sonnen’s taken the fight to the ground and has the champion squashed up against the cage.
Silva’s demeanor is still calm, but this is the worst trouble he’s been in since coming to the UFC.
Sonnen's taken the Brazilian’s back and he’s trying to sink in a rear naked choke while administering a little abuse.
Silva fans aren’t gonna like it, but Chael is doing precisely what he promised he would do—he’s on top of the Brazilian and trying to bash a hole in his head. “The Spider” is in a dominated position as he absorbs rights and then lefts on his back from a standing Sonnen.
He’s got the challenger back in his full guard and it looks like he’ll make it to the horn. But that’s the definition of a silver lining as Sonnen utterly controls the round. Maybe even a 10-8.
"The Spider" takes a deep breath before coming out of his corner. If he didn't believe he was in for a real fight, he believes it now.
The crowd breaks into the "USA, USA" chant as the fight goes to the ground with Sonnen on top and using palm strikes to the side of Silva's head to score some extra points.
The American is letting it all hang out as he uses shoulder strikes to bounce the Brazilian's head off the canvas. Chael postures up to create some space and narrowly misses with a big hammerfist.
That one might've missed, but plenty of semi-bombs are sneaking through while Anderson hasn't been able to do much of anything in the way of offense.
Sonnen unwisely postures back up and leaves his right arm trapped in Silva's web, but the champion seems to be only stalling. A few elbows to Silva's thigh lulls him to sleep and Sonnen blisters a right hand to Silva's head.
They've moved against the cage and the Brazilian is trying to use it to stand up. He abandons the attempt as he catches a perilous kimura, then transitions for a possible leg lock, and the horn ends the action.
A 10-9 round for Sonnen.
Sonnen comes streaking across the Octagon and gets caught with a naughty hook from the champ. That gives him pause and "The Spider" lands a spinning back kick.
Having had his fill of the striking for now, Sonnen chases his prey down and brings the affair back to the mat. The American takes Silva's back and pummels the Brazilian's leg with a few short knees before concentrating on his head.
"The Spider" rolls over and now Sonnen's in his full guard as the crowd gets behind the American. Little nagging half-punches pester Silva's face as the Brazilian searches for an answer to Chael's excellent ground game.
The furious action has cooled a little as we head toward the championship rounds with Chael still in dominant control.
They've been at it for almost 15 minutes now and the American has the clear upper hand. But he's gotta maintain it for 10 more minutes. Another 10-9 for Sonnen.
Sonnen keeps running across the Octagon to open these rounds and it just might've cost him. He barged right into a big left hook and then got wobbled by another big bomb while he was taking stock of a brutal kick to the body.
For a couple pulse-racing seconds, "The Spider" had the kill shot within his grasp, but the blitzkrieg didn't finish the job and the American seems to have recovered.
At least enough to find himself back in the top position and landing shots to the side of Silva's head. Sonnen tries to re-establish control of the round from the Brazilian's guard and appears to be doing just that.
Rights to the body and head of Silva hit their mark as the champ seems seriously outclassed on the ground. A heel kick from Anderson reverberates, but it seemed to hit mostly canvas.
I hate to say it, but Anderson Silva looks gassed as the round ends (his first 10-9 winner). On the other hand, Sonnen is battered and bloodied from that opening exchange. He's got a vicious gash over his left eye.
If my card is right, Sonnen's got at least three rounds so Anderson's gonna need a stoppage or a masterful five minutes to take this baby.
It doesn't get off to that kind of start as Sonnen topples him with a heavy hand and we're back on the ground where the American has done nothing but obliterate the champ.
He continues the refrain by momentarily pivoting into side control before Silva can recover and sneak him back to full guard.
The American doesn't appear to be doing a ton of damage with his strikes, but he's effectively scoring points and winning this fight. Unless Anderson Silva can pull a dramatic reversal in the next 100 seconds, we're going to have a new middleweight champion.
Hold the phone—that's exactly what we've got!!!!!
"The Spider" slaps on a snug triangle choke and Sonnen thrashes around before tapping ever so slightly.
Then, all hell breaks loose.
Something comes flying into the cage from the opposite side of the arena while referee Josh Rosenthal tries to separate the fighters. Meanwhile, "The Spider" won't let go of the choke because Chael tries to pretend he didn't tap.
Calm is restored as the arena sees the obvious tap on the replay.
What an amazing finish.
Anderson Silva defeats Chael Sonnen by submission (triangle choke) at 3:10 of the fifth (Fight of the Night and Co-Submission of the Night).
It took about 23 minutes and a terrible scare, but it sounds like we've got the real Anderson Silva back.
He thanks the crowd and Chael Sonnen for a great fight before revealing that doctors requested that he not enter the cage due to a pre-fight injury. Don't know if that was an excuse, but the dude won so you've gotta believe it's sincere.
Sonnen isn't exactly contrite in defeat, but the guy put on one hell of a show. He certainly beat my expectations and I think it's safe to say a lot of other people's as well.