LAS VEGAS -- It will go down as another "what if" for Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen stuck to his bread and butter in round one of his UFC 148 rematch with middleweight champion Anderson Silva on Saturday night, scoring an instant takedown and using his ground-and-pound to easily win the round.
Then, in the second round, he went for a spinning back elbow, a move rarely seen in his arsenal. He missed wildly, fell to the mat, and the champion pounced.
Silva landed a huge, legal knee to the grounded Sonnen and opened up with a series of punches, forcing referee Yves Levigne to stop the bout at 1:55 of round 2.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this sport is the best sport in the world," said Silva. "Me and Chael work hard for all the people here. Chael disrespected my country, but that's fine. That is nothing for me. This is a sport, this is UFC. Yeah."
In winning the first round, Sonnen looked well on his way to dominating Silva in a manner similar to their UFC 117 classic in the summer of 2010, in which Sonnen controlled Silva for four-and-a-half rounds before Silva won via submission.
But with a vociferous crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena split between Americans chanting "USA" and Brazilians rooting for their hero, Sonnen made his fatal mistake. Silva's finishing flourish added to his list of UFC records, with both his 15th straight win in the Octagon and his 10th successful middleweight title defense.
Silva was gracious toward Sonnen, who spent two years talking a mountain of trash toward both Silva and the country of Brazil.
After shaking hands with Sonnen, he said "Let's show Chael Brazil has manners, I want everyone to applaud Chael. If he would like to have a barbecue at my house, I'd love to have him over."
For his part, the West Linn, Ore. native offered no excuses.
"Man, they gave me the opportunity, nobody owes me anything," Sonnen said. "I'm very grateful to have the chance. Hats off to the champion, man."