It's Monday morning and, much like every morning for the last six years, Anderson Silva remains the UFC middleweight champion. As you already know by now, Silva once again weathered an early storm to defeat Chael Sonnen in the massive headliner of UFC 148, this time skipping the theatrics and dispatching his brash rival early in the second round via a masterful TKO.
(It deserves to be said that, regardless of all the hysterics, the Silva knee that signaled the beginning of the end was utterly brilliant. Chael was sitting upright with his knees covering his chest. How many guys would trust their accuracy enough in that spot to go for a lunging knee to the solar plexus?)
So, was Silva-Sonnen both the greatest rivalry and biggest fight in MMA history, as many others have claimed? Who's really to say? From the record-breaking gate, to the circus-like weigh-ins and the aura of consequence that wrapped itself around the event, everything certainly felt important. Like my colleague Ben Fowlkes pointed out, maybe Anderson Silva just needed a guy like Chael Sonnen to be truly lionized as the greatest of all time.
But now the rivalry is over, and we're left to figure out what it all meant. For Sonnen, on a human level, it's hard not to feel a little bad for the guy, especially after he displayed such grace in the face of overwhelming defeat. Who knows how deep the damage to his marketing muscle will run, though if his dominant first round showed anything, he's clearly still among the five best middleweights in the world.
For Silva, it's the freedom of a cemented legacy. At the age of 37, this remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime athlete erased any doubt of his place in history, annihilating his foremost antagonist on the biggest stage in the history of the sport, with an artistry that shall not soon be replicated. Everything that comes next will only be gravy to his legend.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Silva victorious. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva decisively defended his title against Chael Sonnen in the hugely-anticipated main event of UFC 148. For more, check out complete results, reaction from the pros, post-fight bonuses and press conference video, interviews with the fighters, gate totals and salaries, reflections on Silva's legacy, along with video highlights of Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen and Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin.
Evans calls out Silva. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans called out Anderson Silva, sending a tweet to Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta that declared, "I want to pick a fight with the middleweight champion! Make it happen!! Please!!"
Ortiz retires with loss. Newly crowned UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz fell just short against Forrest Griffin in his retirement match, however it was Griffin's post-fight theatrics that took center stage. Prior to the reading of the judges' scores, the TUF champion bolted out of the cage, before coming back and stealing Ortiz's final post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
Overeem and White make nice. Sidelined heavyweight Alistair Overeem worked his way back into Dana White's good graces after waiting 40 minutes to meet with the UFC President. According to White, the Dutchman "handled himself like a f---ing stud."
Criticism lobbed at Silva from fighters. Following his win, Anderson Silva faced criticism from fellow fighters for several antics that some deemed borderline dirty. Silva maintained his controversial knee-to-the-body was a legal move and implored his co-workers to unite together to build the sport.
This fight was too big to not start us off with some highlights.
Chael's uncle asking him backstage about the fateful failed spinning maneuver: "Did you dream about it last night or something like that? Did you see a Bruce Lee movie?"
Post-event interviews with Dana White always give us a few tidbits, and this one is no exception. Most notably: a fired up White saying both Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz "looked old," comparisons between Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson, who's next for Anderson Silva, and White's thoughts on the Silva-Sonnen stoppage and Silva's controversial knee.
What was Chael Sonnen doing with his spinning back slip? Here's what the combination was supposed to look like.
CHAMPIONSHIP REACTION: THE GOOD
Great night for our sport. Congratulations @SpiderAnderson on the big victory over Sonnen. AGAIN!!!— juniorcigano (@junior_cigano) July 8, 2012
Anderson Silva has reached the greatness of Muhammad Ali, if not surpassed him! What a dominance and control! #GOAL— Siyar Bahadurzada (@SiyarTheGreat) July 8, 2012
@SpiderAnderson He's a brown super hero!!!— Thiago Alves. (@ThiagoAlvesATT) July 8, 2012
huahauhauahuahuahauhauahuahua...— edsonbarboza (@EdsonBarbozaJR) July 8, 2012
CHAMPIONSHIP REACTION: THE BAD
Wipe grease on your arms, grab your opponent shorts, and knee them in the face when they are down. That's how champions should act?— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) July 8, 2012
What’s with Anderson wiping the Vaseline on his skin tho. #UFC148— Jason High (@KCBanditMMA) July 8, 2012
Guys it wasn't just the knee it was the grease the shorts grab, just wasn't champion like— Luke Rockhold (@rockholdMMA) July 8, 2012
What was with the shorts grabbing though?— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) July 8, 2012
CHAMPIONSHIP REACTION: THE NOTABLE
@lorenzofertitta i want 2 pick a fight with the middle weight champion! Lol Make it happen!! Please!!— Rashad Evans (@SugaRashadEvans) July 8, 2012
I guess Anderson said he had no interest in fighting me at tonight's press conference, I feel the same way about him. Nothing but respect— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) July 8, 2012
People can bash Chael but he my boy till the end. When i was sick from Staph...he was on of the few that offered to help me wit my bills.— King Mo (@KingMoFH) July 8, 2012
THE BIZARRE RETIREMENT OF A LEGEND
I feel bad 4 @titoortiz he won 2 out of 3 rounds,y cheat a man on his last fight? It's scary when u can drop a fighter twice n still lose— Quinton Jackson (@Rampage4real) July 8, 2012
When you leave the cage before a decision is given it is a sign of defeat. Never leave the fight in the hands of the judges.— Miguel Angel Torres (@MiguelTorresMMA) July 8, 2012
Obrigado a todos , que Deus continue nos abençoando twitter.com/SpiderAnderson…— Anderson Silva (@SpiderAnderson) July 8, 2012
I was coming back to the cage before Dana came. The shit get emotional and weird— Forrest Griffin (@ForrestGriffin) July 8, 2012
Losing suck bad , wanted to give a win for my fans and friends , sorry guys , love you all from the bottom of my heart !!— patrick cote (@patrick_cote) July 8, 2012
Damn that felt good!!Thank u everyone4all the support! Feels gr8 to train hard and have a plan work! I love all my fans u guys r awesome!— chad mendes (@chadmendes) July 8, 2012
Thanks for the support everyone. Just getting back to the room now from partying with my team, time to go to sleep! Hulk Smash!!!!— Mike Easton (@mikeeastonmma) July 8, 2012
Thanks to alls the Mma fans to follow the Mma. I am happy because I give a nice fight. Sad but prude of me thanks— Ivan Menjivar ufc (@Ivanmenjivar) July 8, 2012
Announced over the weekend (Friday, July 6, 2012 - Sunday, July 8, 2012):
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day sees casey.harts play his best Joe Silva with: The Case for Rashad Evans Versus Anderson Silva: Part 1 Rashad Evans Wrestling
Currently four new men, Bisping, Belcher, Stann, and Lombard, are working towards contention. Belcher is on a four fight win streak (recently returning from a very long lay off), Lombard is on a twenty fight win streak (24 fight unbeaten streak, but none were in the UFC), Bisping is coming off a loss to Chael Sonnen, and Stann lost to Chael then recently defeated Alessio Sakara. While all four men are close, each man is understandably one or two wins away from a shot to say the least. Instead of putting Anderson on the shelf again, who is thirty-seven years old, giving Rashad a shot at the belt makes complete sense.
While Rashad is no spring chicken, he has the upper hand in age against Silva. He will still have a height disadvantage against Silva, but his strength coming into the fight would be arguably greater. Even when far smaller Rashad has managed to defeat men not just with his speed but his power, and strength. His complete control of Thiago Silva, and 'Rampage' Jackson are prime examples; along with the outclassing of Phil Davis (Remember he is still very young, and has only been fighting for the UFC for two years.) a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Champion who is far larger.
I will discuss in detail why Rashad might be the answer to the Anderson Silva riddle.
The Wrestling of Rashad Evans
Against each of Rashad's last five opponents only four take downs were completed on him by his competitors; while Rashad completed fifteen take downs. Half the take downs that have ever been completed on Thiago Silva are from Rashad. Rashad is the only person to ever take down Phil Davis. Rashad has scored a take down in all but five of his fights.
Rashad on paper isn't considered one of the better wrestlers, but when he gets in the cage his fights tell a far different story. Here against Phil Davis he is attempting to hit a switch and Davis looks to move to his back. Rashad responds with a attempted 'hip over' technique throwing his hips around Davis', then grabbing the waist and driving Davis down reversing and securing the take down. This is against a guy who a few years ago was one the number one wrestler in his weight class at folk style. Rashad out wrestling Davis is akin to if someone submitting someone like Robert Drysdale in a MMA fight.
Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.