UFC 134 will feature the main event of middleweight champion Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami, but many believe that a rematch between Silva and Okami’s teammate, Chael Sonnen, might actually be a better fight.
Silva currently sits as a gigantic -625 favorite for his fight this weekend against Okami, and there appears to be little belief among experts that the Japanese fighter will be able to hang with Silva. who is competing his home country of Brazil.
This sentiment is understandable considering Silva’s dominance since becoming the champion back in October 2006. “The Spider” has eaten the division alive, even forcing other fighters like Rich Franklin and Nate Marquardt out of the division entirely.
Only one opponent who has fought Silva in the UFC has really given him a true run for his money, and that opponent was the loud-mouthed American, Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen looked so good in their UFC 117 fight, in fact, that just about everyone watching was talking as if it was a foregone conclusion that Sonnen was going to be the new champion going into the fifth and final round.
But like a true champion, Silva battled back and earned himself a surprise submission victory in the final round to stay champion.
Still, it’s hard not to think about what would happen if these two warriors went to battle again. Would Sonnen be able to finish off the Brazilian this time, or would a rededicated Silva do what he has done against so many other opponents and completely destroy the “Gangster from Oregon"?
It’s an interesting thing to think about, and here are 10 reasons that the rematch needs to happen.
The UFC middleweight champion is currently one of the most popular fighters on the planet, and that popularity is sure to grow if he can walk away with a victory this weekend in his home country against Yushin Okami.
The UFC needs to continue to capitalize on this popularity any time they can. They have definitely done so with this UFC Rio event on Saturday night, but there are just far too many fights in the middleweight division that wouldn’t really attract much fan attention.
As an organization, the UFC cannot afford to have another debacle like the one we saw with Silva vs. Patrick Cote when they received only around 300,000 buys on pay-per-view. Silva is a huge worldwide superstar and as a business, the UFC needs to put him against opponents that fans care about seeing him fight.
Chael Sonnen is definitely one of those opponents.
I know that MMA fans are going to cringe when they read this, but Chael Sonnen is pretty much the UFC’s version of a “heel” or what some fans might call a “bad guy” in the WWE. Certainly there are a lot of differences given that the UFC is legitimate competition and the WWE is acting, but there are still a lot of similarities.
While many might think of being hated as a bad thing, Chael Sonnen has used his unique personality to really grab the attention of the media. No longer is he being ignored and looked at as just another fighter, he is now one of the most talked-about fighters on the face of the planet—especially in Brazil.
Sonnen has gone out of his way to talk down to and even downright insult Brazilian fighters and even the country as a whole in recent months. In fact, it has gotten so bad that he isn’t even making the trip to Brazil to support his friend and training partner Yushin Okami this Saturday night due to the tremendous amount of hatred that is currently held for him by the people and even police officers in that country.
What better way is there to take advantage of that hate than to place him against the country’s top fighter in a rematch?
Chael Sonnen has been fighting in the UFC for years now and although his record within the promotion isn’t the greatest (3-4), he has seemingly fought just about everyone that anyone would want to see him fight within the middleweight division.
He will be fighting fellow American Brian Stann at UFC 136 in October, but although both of these fighters have a lot of hype surrounding them, there seems to be some disappointment within the community that they will be fighting one another.
The fight itself is probably going to be entertaining, but there doesn’t seem to be much of the typical Chael Sonnen trash talk in this fight. We’ve come to love it and there just seems to be something missing.
"I'm not going to manufacture a conflict against Brian Stann. He's a friend of mine. He's a great guy. He's a world champion," Sonnen told Sherdog Radio.
There may be other opponents that we would like to see Chael fight, such as Wanderlei Silva, but the truth is that the UFC isn’t going to put these guys against one another unless Chael goes on a losing streak. The two of them are just so far off from one another right now on the MMA totem pole that it would be almost considered a squash fight by analysts, in Chael’s favor.
Even rematches with opponents like Demian Maia seem unlikely now given that the two of them appear to be becoming more buddy-buddy as time goes on.
Look, it’s not that the UFC hasn’t tried, but there just doesn’t appear to be much competition for Anderson Silva within the UFC’s middleweight division.
The division may be deeper than ever right now, especially with the potential of crossovers like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Tim Kennedy from Strikeforce, but the -625 betting odds in favor of Anderson Silva in his fight against Yushin Okami tells the story about as clearly as it can be told.
Experts just do not believe that there is competition for Silva at 185 pounds.
There are always up-and-comers like Stann, Mark Munoz and even Michael Bisping within the division, but each of those fighters are likely going to have to win at least one more fight before they can reasonably be placed in the same cage as Anderson Silva. And even at that point, they’re likely going to be huge underdogs.
But while Chael Sonnen would be an underdog in a rematch with Silva, there seems to still be a lot of belief within the community that he could shock the world again and even walk away with the championship in a rematch.
Talk to 10 different MMA fans and you’re likely to get 10 different responses about how the first Silva-Sonnen fight went and how a rematch would end.
According to Sonnen himself, he flat out believes that he beat Silva in the first fight and blamed the scoring system for his loss.
"In what parallel scoring system do you punch a man 300 times, he hits you 11 times, wraps his leg around your head for eight seconds and they declare him the winner?" Sonnen asked.
Certainly Chael is working the media a bit in an effort to make his loss look better, but he does have a point. He did beat up the champion, whom many believed to be unbeatable, for four and a half rounds before he got caught in a triangle.
So what would happen in a rematch? It’s all just speculation at this point until we get to see it happen.
We’ve seen things like this before, where one fighter seemed to dominate a fight only to be caught with a “flash knockout” or an unexpected submission.
One of the best examples of this happened in the Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir fights. Lesnar was completely destroying Frank Mir, but the fight was stopped to take a point away from the future champion for illegal punches to the back of the head. It was at this point that Mir was able to regain his composure, only to submit Lesnar with a knee bar just a few moments later.
Fans and experts alike argued back and forth about what would happen in a rematch, but Lesnar put all doubts to rest when the two of them finally fought again when he smashed Mir’s face to a bloody pulp before earning a TKO victory.
But that’s not the only example. We’ve seen matchups like Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture and Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard (scheduled) happen three times!
Not only does the UFC like to put on great fights, they like to have their fighters “prove it” in a rematch. I don’t think there’s any doubt that, at some point, Anderson Silva needs to prove his superiority over Sonnen.
As mentioned before, Chael Sonnen might be the most hated fighter in the entire sport today. His cocky and obnoxious personality can attract some fans, but it most often turns people away from him.
Like New York Jets football coach Rex Ryan, there are a lot of people who simply want to see this guy get shut up. But like coach Ryan, Chael really is good enough that he could beat just about anyone...and that only makes us more angry.
Even though he struggled in their first right, the best man for the job has to be Anderson Silva.
While many other guys would try to bring Chael to the ground where they can exploit his questionable jiu-jitsu defense, the UFC middleweight champion has made a name for himself by destroying his opponents with his hands, feet, elbows and knees.
Chael haters, wouldn’t it be great to see him get the Rich Franklin treatment against the fence?
Though both Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva are currently fighting at a very high level, there is certainly some concern that both men are reaching what many believe to be the twilight of the average MMA career.
Sonnen, 34 years old, has been fighting professionally since 1997, although he has only been competing regularly since 2002. His 25-11-1 career record shows that while he has been a top-level middleweight for a long time, he has also experienced some tough losses.
Meanwhile, it may surprise some to hear that Anderson Silva is already 36 years old and that he has been fighting professionally since 1997 as well. It probably doesn’t seem like he is that old when you consider how badly he has destroyed so many of his opponents, but age is the great equalizer when it comes to all sports.
There doesn’t appear to be any concern that either of these fighters will be retiring in the very near future, but as we have seen with other high-level guys like Matt Hamill following his loss at UFC 133 earlier this month, sometimes these things come up unexpectedly.
In order to guarantee that they will eventually get the payday of a Sonnen-Silva rematch, they need to do it as soon as possible—presuming both men make it out of their next fights with a victory.
Though it is the fastest growing sport in the world and is now set to be regularly featured on FOX, the UFC’s pay-per-view numbers are down fairly significantly from what they were at in 2010.
Of course, there are a variety of reasons for this happening, including untimely injuries to huge stars, other stars leaving the organization and even a higher number of scheduled total events in 2011 compared to 2010, but this year has been a little thinner than 2010 seemed to be.
There’s no reason for the UFC to panic, of course, as their business continues to grow overall, but higher pay-per-view numbers are obviously a major way to bring in more money for the company.
Given his popularity, the UFC can typically build pay-per-view fight cards around Anderson Silva, but there may not be another middleweight fight for him that would garner in the type of buys that a Sonnen-Silva rematch would be sure to get.
We’re nearing the end of 2011 and I think it’s time that we finally be honest with ourselves:
Georges St-Pierre is not moving up to 185.
He hasn’t officially said he’s not going to do it, but all of his actions appear to indicate that he is intent on sticking at 170 pounds and solidifying himself as the greatest welterweight fighter in the history of the sport.
And quite frankly, who can blame him? Why is it GSP’s responsibility to move up in weight to fight someone who is perceived to be every bit as good as him and who is a natural 185-pounder?
We absolutely would love to see this fight and the UFC would love to see it because it could very possibly be the biggest fight that the promotion has ever put on.
But it’s not going to happen.
So it’s time to be realistic and go to the next best thing, which is still great. It may not be the filet mignon that a GSP-Silva fight would be, but a Sonnen-Silva fight is still a delicious t-bone steak that fans can’t wait to sink their teeth into.
This rematch needs to happen.