I don't want to become a prediction guy. Of course I have my opinions, everybody does. Only problem is, everyone is wrong. MMA has proven time and again to be one of the most unpredictable sporting events out there. So I'm not going to stake my name on predictions. I will, however, offer up an additional angle to look at upcoming fights.
As we discussed in parts one and two, rematches seem to have their own mystique. The fighters have been there before, seen and felt what their opponent has, and both men are fighting for the legacy of not one, but two or three fights at once. So with the additional pressure and strategy involved, it might help to look at their rematch history when making predictions.
First up, the big one. Everyone has been waiting for the UFC 148 headlining rematch, Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen. Their first fight had everything fans love: action, pace, surprises, grit, and one spectacular comeback. Their rematch is hotly anticipated.
Sonnen's vulnerability, for a variety of possible reasons, has been submissions. Jeremy Horn holds two rematch wins over him by submission. Sonnen knows this, having called Horn "crafty" before their third fight, but insisting he knew he could win. Two submission losses in two rematches doesn't bode well for the Oregon native. However, he also holds two rematch wins over opponents who previously submitted him, Trevor Prangley and Paulo Filho. In both fights he wore his opponents down with his signature grinding style.
Silva has two rematches on his record, and two brutal knockout wins. The first was a Muay Thai clinch clinic against former champion Rich Franklin. The second was a technical display against Yushin Okami last August. Both of those men had spent time in the cage with Silva, and neither of them looked any better for it. So looking at their rematch history, Silva holds a clear edge over Sonnen.
Co-main card in the same event is Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin. Ortiz's rematch history is extensive and varied, having fought some of the UFC's biggest names over the years. He's won three out of six rematches in the UFC, with the last back in 2006. While his win/loss tally seems to show a career in decline, you cannot forget that this guy has a massive amount of experience at the highest levels. His rematch wins include Guy Metzger and Ken Shamrock (twice).
Forrest Griffin has two rematch wins, one classic decision win over Stephan Bonnar, and a decision over Ortiz in 2009. Griffin tried to go three-for-three, but unfortunately was run over by a truck named Shogun Rua last year. So while he doesn't have a perfect record, he does have a tough and gritty approach to fights that has already netted him a win in one rematch with Ortiz. Both of these fighters' histories have been laced with similar fights lately: back-and-forth affairs, largely fought on the feet, but with sporadic action in any given position. Both me have made themselves into fan favorites, but it's pretty obvious Griffin has the rematch advantage here.
There are more big rematches on the horizon, including Ben Henderson vs Frankie Edgar, and Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez, both for UFC titles. Henderson and Edgar are both undefeated in rematches, while Dos Santos has one loss and Velasquez has yet to fight a rematch. Further analysis could reveal some trends, but I'm going to stop my outlook here, and see if this angle has any real bearing on the outcomes. I could be on to something. But with the unpredictability of this great sport, I'm probably as clueless as the next guy.