UFC 117: Chael Sonnen shakes up MMA world while Anderson Silva could be out until 2011

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Chael Sonnen’s pre-fight hype, delivery in the Octagon and comportment after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at UFC 117, deserves high praise.

He lost 23 minutes 50 seconds into a middleweight title fight he should have won, and which he had dominated up until that point, against a champion in Anderson Silva against whom he landed ten times as many strikes as the sport’s pound for pound leader had taken in a UFC career into double figures.

Testament, too, there, to the champion qualities of the imperious Brazilian.

Silva’s 12-0 UFC record is by far the best in UFC history. The next is Gray Maynard at 7-0), and Silva also extended his record for most consecutive UFC title defences to seven. Another win would give Silva eight in UFC title bouts, moving past Georges St-Pierre for third all-time.

Sonnen deserves a re-match, although Silva’s agent Ed Soares was claiming late Sunday that an immediate re-match should not be an inevitability. There is some merit in that statement.

The UFC hierarchy, and indeed, MMA’s fan base, will now be intrigued to see Vitor Belfort, who has a similar swarming style to that of Sonnen, be the next to attempt to unseat the champion. Soares also revealed that Silva, 35, had injured ribs and may not be back in action until 2011.

Sonnen told Telegraph Sport that it is not about defeating Silva for him , it is just about the UFC middleweight belt.

“You know, I just want to be champion. I have no other goal I’m not in this for the fame or the money. I’m in this for 12 pounds of gold. I will never back off that stance. The second that that goal changes, I’ll leave. I’ll quit the sport and go on. And every one should do to.”

“There’s a locker room full of cowards in this company. They don’t want to walk in the ring with Anderson, they don’t want to walk in the ring with me.

They should quit. Go do something else.”

But had Sonnen set a blueprint for how to beat Silva? “Listen, he’s a good fighter, and he’s the champion… But I am the best fighter in this company – excluding [Randy] Couture. Couture could beat me. Aside from that, I’m the best fighter in the UFC. Win or lose tonight, win or lose other nights, there’s no other fighter in this business like me.”

Had Sonnen been surprised that Silva was not more humble after his performance.

“No, I thought that he did a good job. He should hold his head high. He pulled it out at the end. That’s what champions do. I’m envious that he did that. I would trade spots with him in a heartbeat. I would get beat up for four and a half rounds to get my hand raised at the end. He did all he needed to do.”


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