UFC: Anderson Silva vows to silence Chael Sonnen in fight of the year
Silva versus Sonnen II is almost upon us. Quite simply, it’s the biggest fight of the year and anticipation has reached fever pitch. This week we take an in-depth look at the fight itself and figure out where exactly our own Michael Bisping features in the turbulent middleweight waters…
Few match-ups have gotten fight fans as genuinely fired up as this weekend’s main event offering. A tumultuous storyline stretching back for years, an epic first clash, two polar opposite personalities and the small matter of the middleweight championship of the world, this one has it all. In the build-up to UFC 148 in Las Vegas this Saturday night the fact that the 185lb strap is on the line has almost been a secondary thought. Such is the drawing power of two of the organization’s biggest personalities. Anderson Silva of course is known to be the epitome of a traditional martial artist, respectful, humble and reserved (Except if you are named Demian Maia). How much of this persona is real and how much manufactured by his PR and management team depends on who you speak to. The recent conference call in which “The Spider” lost his cool for the first time may shed some light on this. When any individual is lambasted, lampooned and so openly insulted as Silva has been in the past two years, it must be extremely difficult to retain poise and context when the cameras are rolling. When the offending person has thrashed you to within two minutes of defeat in a championship bout it becomes well nigh impossible.
Chael Sonnen for his part plays the pro-wrestling styled heel to perfection. An intelligent and strategic character, we can safely assume that a fair amount of what he says is tongue in cheek and has been formulated to exact maximum exposure in the “what have you done for me lately” fight game. Sonnen is a master of promotion and his relentless pursuance of Silva in the media has paid dividends, regardless of the result of their rematch in the MGM Grand on Saturday night. Whilst his outlandish antics and below the belt verbal warfare has been self serving in its conception it may also be hugely beneficial to the legacy of the world’s greatest pound for pound fighter once he inevitably calls it a day. In the same way that Ali needed Frazier and Liddell needed Couture, Silva and Sonnen will be inextricably linked once the ink dries on their fistic records.
Silva’s contemptuous disposal of Demian Maia was noteworthy, his clinical dismissal of Yushin Okami even more so and his summary execution of Chris Leben in his Octagon debut simply mesmerizing. However, in the cold light of day this fight is the one which will go a long way to defining his legacy. Silva will be most remembered for his tussles with West Linn’s favorite motor-mouth, despite the fact that in their first fight he looked distinctly average, relegated to the role of mere mortal. In Chael Sonnen, Silva has found a rare foil, a fighter who does not respect him either inside or outside the Octagon. These are the confrontations which define legacies and given Silva’s reticence to once again lock horns with Sonnen, one can’t help but wonder whether his reluctance is based on a deep seated fear that Sonnen can replicate the performance of his life at UFC 117. Knowing what Sonnen’s game plan is and stopping it are two entirely different matters. Bisping, Marquardt and Stann can all attest to that.
Silva often takes time to settle into fights and find his rhythm. He will not be allowed such customary comforts come Saturday night. Sonnen will change little from his 2010 performance whilst of course addressing his submissions achilles heel. When most fighters allow emotion to enter the equation their performance suffers. Emotion encourages mistakes and anxiety and burns energy reserves at a staggering rate. Silva however is a different entity. Whilst Sonnen has unquestionably gotten under his skin, I believe that the animosity will actually fuel the fire on this occasion. With the element of surprise absent on this occasion most factors point to a victory for the legendary Brazilian. Sonnen didn’t look like a champion in waiting against Michael Bisping last time out, but then again few do against “The Count”. Silva will make out strike Sonnen early and often and he will make it count. “The Spider” should emerge victorious and clinically conclude one of the greatest duels in the short history of the sport.
For more coverage of Silva v Sonnen and the rest of UFC 148 at my Asahi Shimbun column click here
Bisping ponders next move
Michael Bisping will be more than an interested observer to events this weekend. He has been on the cusp of a crack at Silva’s throne on more than one occasion and came desperately close to derailing Sonnen’s title charge. Whether the outcome of the looming title fight will dictate Bisping’s next match-up is debatable. Coming off a loss (even though a disputed one) means that he will need to dispatch one more highly ranked opponent in all likelihood to be granted the elusive title tilt. Both Alan Belcher and Brian Stann have been mooted as his next opponent. Belcher has been opening challenging Bisping for some time and this week Stann also suggested that he and Bisping do battle. A win over Stann may not garner a shot at Saturday’s victor but a successful showing against the ever improving Belcher might just secure it. UK fans will be watching this space as movements and machinations in the fluid 185lb division may well pit Bisping into the championship cauldron.
Next week we sit down with one of the UK’s rising MMA stars, Jason Young. Join us then when “Shotgun” will be discussing UFC Nottingham and much more…
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