Leading into his clash with the consensus pound-for-pound king of mixed martial arts it was clear that Chael Sonnen could talk a good game, but now it was time to see if he could back it up.
When the opening bell sounded most of the fight community would have expected Sonnen to be caught in the spiders web within the first fifteen minutes, however Sonnen had different ideas.
The NCAA Division I All-American wrestler bettered Anderson Silva even in a standing contest and after securing his take-downs 'The Spider' looked like a fish out of water off his back, taking numerous strikes and struggling to improve his position.
Twenty minutes into their epic encounter and Sonnen had decisively won four straight rounds and looked as if the middleweight title was as good as his, but one mistake cost him his moment of glory as Silva threw his legs in the air to secure a triangle choke, retain his gold and shatter the dreams of Sonnen.
At the post-fight press conference when UFC President Dana White was posed with the question of granting Sonnen with an instant rematch he said “It’s definitely a rematch people want to see, we can definitely do a rematch. It was awesome. I loved that Chael talked the smack he did and then went out and backed it up.”
In recent times instant rematches in the UFC have become quite common, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua got an instant rematch against Lyoto Machida this past May and a little under three weeks from now BJ Penn will get the chance to re-capture his lightweight Championship after a razor-close decision loss to Frankie Edga;r so granting Sonnen a rematch makes sense right?
One little problem, Vitor Belfort was promised the next shot at Silva following his catch-weight bout former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin.
In my humble opinion UFC match-maker Joe Silva saw money and interest in a clash between Silva and Belfort and didn't want to risk Belfort losing a fight and dropping out of title contention so "The Phenom" has sat on the shelf promised a title shot in his future since September of 2009.
But does Sonnen's stellar effort against the undisputed king of 185 pounds put him ahead of Belfort in the cue? Personally, I will say yes -- since Belfor's return to the UFC, he has not actually competed at 185 pounds and from the prospective of a fight fan, Sonnen vs. Silva II is a much more compelling fight than Silva vs. Belfort.
However, I do not believe it is fair to either make Belfort wait longer or have him fall from title contention and face another contender to fill time so I have a simple solution -- Sonnen vs. Belfort with the winner facing Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Sonnen may not have left The Oracle Arena in Oakland, California with the ten pounds of gold that he desired but he did leave with the respect of fight fans the world over, I feel its only a matter of time until he works his way back to the top of the 185 pound rankings and gets a rematch with Silva.