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What If Sonnen-Silva Plays Out Like Sonnen-Filho?

Let me see if I have this straight. UFC President Dana White wants to put middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the Octagon with someone who's going to force him to fight, and he's chosen ... Chael Sonnen?

"Chael Sonnen is one of these guys who's not going to lay back, not going to do what these other guys did," White told ESPN's Jim Rome, referring to the way Silva won decisions over Thales Leites and Demian Maia without either one ever threatening him at all.

That sounds good, but the last time Sonnen was in the cage with someone who wasn't in the mood to fight, it was Paulo Filho (a friend and training partner of Silva's), and far from taking the fight to Filho and making him pay for his lackadaisical approach, Sonnen did just enough to win one of the most boring decisions you'll ever see at WEC 36 in 2008.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying Anderson Silva in his recent middleweight title defenses has been as bad as Filho was on that ugly night against Sonnen. But I am saying that if the UFC really wants to force Silva to fight, it should probably choose an opponent who doesn't have a track record of failing to force his opponent to fight.

If the UFC wants fireworks, White should put Silva in the cage with a finisher, someone who's going to attack Silva and get Silva to fight back, the way he did against James Irvin and Forrest Griffin. That's not Sonnen -- not by any stretch of the imagination.

This isn't a knock on Sonnen, who's a very good fighter. In the last year, Sonnen has unanimous decision victories against Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt. Very few fighters in any division or any promotion of MMA have been as impressive over the last year as Sonnen has. But Sonnen is anything but a finisher: In seven UFC fights, he has yet to finish an opponent. He never finished an opponent in four WEC fights, either.

I don't think Sonnen vs. Silva will play out like like Sonnen vs. Filho because I think Silva is going to be motivated by White's criticism, by fans' criticism and by Sonnen's trash talk to put a serious whipping on Sonnen. But if the goal is to force Silva to be the fighter he was against Forrest Griffin, the UFC should probably put him in the Octagon against an opponent more like Forrest Griffin.