And then when they step into the cage I expect to see Silva do what he does best and give Sonnen a beating.
When Sonnen grabbed the microphone after beating Brian Stann at UFC 136 and said, "Anderson Silva, you suck," it was disrespectful and preposterous. Silva is universally regarded as the top pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world, and Sonnen talking to him that way is absurd. But it also elicited a roar from the crowd, and there can be no doubt that hundreds of thousands of UFC fans are already planning to fork over $50 to buy that fight on pay-per-view.
So Sonnen did his job: He beat a good opponent after a long layoff, and then he immediately started hyping up the Silva fight. But does anyone seriously doubt that Silva is going to do his job and beat Sonnen when the rematch happens?
Sonnen is the only man ever to give Silva any real test inside the Octagon, and he's to be commended for that. When Silva and Sonnen met at UFC 117, Sonnen gave Silva all he could handle for four rounds before finally getting submitted in the fifth. This isn't meant as a knock on Sonnen.
But let's get real: Silva is the best fighter this sport has ever seen, and he's going to be highly motivated to put on a show against Sonnen, It's really, really hard to imagine that Sonnen could win the rematch. Silva should put him in his place.
Sonnen vowed that he would leave the UFC if he loses to Silva, but that smells like pure hype: Sonnen knows pro wrestling has long sold tickets with "loser leaves town" matches, and he wanted to borrow that tactic. A loss to Silva wouldn't cause Sonnen to leave the UFC.
Nor should it. Sonnen is a great personality, as he has shown in countless interviews over the last couple of years, but he's also a great fighter, as he showed against Stann.
He's just not as great as Silva.
UFC 136 Notes
--Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard have given us a wonderful trilogy of fights, with Edgar evening the score at UFC 136 after Maynard had beaten him once and fought to a draw with him once. Edgar remains the lightweight champion and will defend his belt against someone else next, but I'm personally hoping we'll see a fourth fight between these two some day.
--According to CompuStrike, Leonard Garcia and Nam Phan combined to land 232 strikes, with Phan outlanding Garcia 161-71 in total strikes and 87-51 in power strikes. There's not much doubt that Phan deserved his unanimous decision victory.
--Anthony Pettis looked in his split decision win over Jeremy Stephens like he has put a lot of work into improving his takedowns and his wrestling since his loss to Clay Guida in June. I expect the 24-year-old Pettis to keep getting better, and to eventually fight for the lightweight title.
--It's been disappointing to see Demian Maia, who's a brilliant Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner, settle for getting dominant positions and winning fights by decision. When Maia entered the UFC he made everybody tap: He won his first five fights by submission and received the Submission of the Night bonus four times. But since then Maia has had seven more fights and hasn't submitted anybody. Against Jorge Santiago Maia easily won the unanimous decision, but Maia has reached the point where he doesn't seem to want to take any chances. That makes him a lot less entertaining than he used to be.
--The UFC would love to see its only Chinese fighter, Zhang Tiequan, have some success inside the Octagon. If that's going to happen, Zhang is going to need to spend a lot of time training with a high-level camp in the United States. As we saw in Zhang's unanimous decision loss to Darren Elkins, Zhang has a rudimentary ground game and doesn't have a backup plan if his go-to move, the guillotine choke, doesn't force his opponent to tap. Zhang showed a good deal of toughness just surviving to go the distance with Elkins, who thoroughly outclassed him. Now it'd be nice to see Zhang show the capacity to develop into a complete mixed martial artist.
UFC 136 Quotes
"He's got a good head. I watched all his fights. He's got a head, man." -- Stipe Miosic after his unanimous decision victory over Joey Beltran. Miosic hit Beltran over and over again, and Beltran just kept coming back for more. Beltran isn't a particularly good fighter, but he does have a lot of heart -- and, as Miosic noted, a hard head.
"This ain't easy fighting someone three times. Gray forced me to bring the best out of myself." -- Edgar, after the fight with Maynard. They both brought out the best in each other.
I liked seeing Aaron Simpson enter his fight with a great game plan and execute it perfectly in his unanimous decision victory over Eric Schafer: Simpson knew Schaefer's best chance of winning was pulling off a submission on the ground, and so Simpson, an excellent wrestler with good takedowns, resisted the urge to put Schaefer on his back and instead turned their fight into a boxing match. Simpson showed that his punching power and accuracy were far better than Schafer's, and Simpson won 30-27 on all three judges' scorecards.
Mike Goldberg said, "Garcia and Jung" at the start of the fight between Leonard Garcia and Nam Phan, confusing Phan with Chan Sung Jung. That was a mistake, but maybe Goldberg was just being prescient: Just like Jung, Phan had lost a bad decision after a wild slugfest with Garcia, and just like Jung, Phan then won the rematch.
Mike Massenzio showed a lot of heart in his unanimous decision victory over Steve Cantwell. After Cantwell got the better of him in the first round, Massenzio came on very hard in the second and blew Cantwell away in the third. Massenzio had lost his last three UFC fights and probably wasn't going to get another chance if he didn't beat Cantwell. But he looked like he belongs on Saturday night.
Heading into UFC 136, Melvin Guillard had a good chance of proving that he deserved to be next in line for the lightweight title. Instead, he was choked out in 47 seconds by Joe Lauzon, and he now has to get behind a whole lot of guys in a long line in the lightweight division.
Fight I Want To See Next
Is there any doubt? Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva. Let's see this soon.
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