Aug. 7, 2010, was a day that mixed martial art fans will never forget. Chael Sonnen was two minutes away from beating the best fighter to ever step inside the Octagon. Then, the unexpected happened. Anderson Silva locked Sonnen in a triangle choke that forced Sonnen to tap. This was the closest, and really the only fighter, who ever gave Anderson Silva a competitive fight inside the Octagon. Finally, almost two years later, we get to see one of the most anticipated rematches in UFC history. Anderson Silva is looking to defend his UFC middleweight belt for the 10th straight time.
Furthermore, this is not the only fight on the card to pay close attention to. UFC 148 features two former UFC champions in Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz. They are fighting for the third time and this one is for all the bragging rights. Former middleweight title-challenger, Patrick Cote, is facing off against one of the most dynamic strikers in Cung Le. Dong Hyun Kim, one of the best judo fighters in the world, faces off against Demian Maia, one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in MMA. Chad Mendes welcomes Cody McKenzie to the featherweight division. Mike Easton and Ivan Menjivar round up the main card, squaring off in a bantamweight fight that will put the winner that much closer to a title shot.
Also, there are some intriguing matchups on the preliminary card that features the likes of Melvin Guillard, Gleison Tibau, Shane Roller, and Constantinos Philippou that we will take a quick glance at.
THE MAIN EVENT
ANDERSON SILVA (31-4, 14-0 UFC) vs. CHAEL SONNEN (27-11-1, 6-4 UFC)
Everybody has been waiting eagerly for this rematch. The first fight was one of the most bizarre fights we have ever witnessed.
Sonnen dominated Silva for four and a half rounds. Sonnen landed 320 strikes in the fight compared to Silva's 64. In Silva's previous 11 fights before UFC 117, his 11 opponents landed a total of 166 strikes. Sonnen landed nearly double the amount of strikes than all of Silva's previous opponents. Sonnen's 31 significant strikes in the first round were more than any other fighter has landed in an entire fight against Silva. Sonnen put Silva on his back for nearly 20 minutes of the fight, which is double the amount of time Silva has spent on his back in his UFC career.
Unfortunately, none of that mattered on Aug. 7, 2010. With 1:50 left in the fifth and final round, Sonnen tapped when Anderson Silva locked in a triangle choke. It was the latest stoppage in UFC history, and Silva showed why he is still the baddest man on the planet.
Since losing to Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen has beaten two top ten opponents to get his second crack at Silva. He submitted Brian Stann at UFC 136 with an arm triangle choke and took out Michael Bisping at UFC on FOX 2 via unanimous decision.
Anderson Silva has dominated his last two opponents since almost losing his belt to Sonnen. He front kicked Vitor Belfort in the face and knocked him out at UFC 126 in the first round. At UFC 134, Silva squared off against Yushin Okami, one of Sonnen's training partners, and had no problem with Okami. He knocked him out in the second round and defended his middleweight belt for the ninth consecutive time.
Anderson Silva is a perfect 14-0 inside the Octagon and has finished 12 of his 14 fights. Nine have been via (T)KO and three have been submission finishes.
Sonnen is 6-4 in the UFC, but is 5-2 during his second stint inside the Octagon. He improved dramatically since his first time around in the UFC. He became a complete fighter when he spent time in the WEC between his two stints in the UFC.
This is one of the biggest rematches in UFC history and it ranks right up there with Liddell vs. Ortiz II and Liddell vs. Couture II.
Silva was battling a rib injury during the first encounter, so we will find out if that played a part in his slow performance. That was the only time Silva has ever looked sluggish in the UFC. At UFC 117 Sonnen showed he is a very underrated boxer and knocked down Silva on two different occasions. I don't think a lot of people realized that Sonnen is a former golden gloves boxer. He displayed this against the best striker the UFC has ever seen. Anderson Silva is the most accurate striker in UFC history and has the most career knockdowns inside the Octagon. Chael Sonnen is the least hit middleweight fighter in UFC history and his 34 takedowns are the most by any middleweight inside the Octagon.
These guys are clearly the top-two middleweight fighters in the world. On Saturday, July 7, 2012, we will find out who is the best. Sonnen had the perfect game plan last time around. He smothered Silva and didn't allow him to find his range. That is Silva's bread and butter. If he can find his range and use his three-inch reach advantage, Sonnen will be in serious trouble. Sonnen did a good job of staying close to Silva and not allowing him to find his comfort zone in the first fight. Sonnen controlled the majority of the fight and won two rounds, 10-8, on the judge's scorecard. Sonnen controlled the Octagon and will need to do the same if he wants to beat the best fighter in the history of the UFC.
In my opinion, Silva overlooked Sonnen the first time they met up. Silva probably figured it would be another easy fight and Sonnen caught him by surprise. This will not happen this time around. I see a different Anderson Silva showing up for this fight, and he is not dealing with a nagging rib injury. Sonnen is a game opponent, and is a top-ten fighter in the world, but Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter for a reason. It will be tough for Silva to knock out Sonnen, because the only two times Sonnen has lost via TKO in his MMA career (39 fights) was because of cuts. However, Sonnen's weakness is his submission defense. All four of his UFC losses have been via submission.
There has been a ton of trash talk before this fight, mainly from Sonnen. Sonnen has been calling out Silva's family, country, and character for over two-years now. Silva finally heard enough. Anderson Silva said he is going to knock out Sonnen's teeth, break his arm, and basically every bone in his body on Saturday. He stated Sonnen will not be able to walk out of the Octagon on his own. We will have to wait and see if this is good or bad for Silva by letting his emotions get the best of him for once. We will either see an even more dangerous Silva, or one that is not focused to follow his game plan. Also, let's not forget Silva has not fought in nearly a year, so this might be something to pay close attention to.