Anderson Silva won the UFC middleweight championship nearly six years ago. He’s defended that belt nine times. He’s held the belt longer than any champion in UFC history. At 14, he’s won more consecutive fights in the UFC than any other fighter. He’s got three Fight of the Night, three Knockout of the Night, and two Submission of the Night awards to his credit.
But, he’s done all this, and more, with amateur skills.
Well, at least according to his next opponent, Chael Sonnen, that is.
“I think Anderson’s a really good setup guy. He uses a lot of movements and motions to set guys up, but at the end of the day, his skills are amateur,” said Sonnen on Monday. “If you walk into a fist fight with your hands down, that’s amateur, and you know, I treated him like an amateur the first time, and he’s going to look like an amateur this time.”
Sonnen, at UFC 117, took the fight to Silva for the better part of four and a half rounds, but in the end, it was Silva – with an amateurish triangle choke/armbar submission finish of Sonnen – that walked out of the Octagon with a victory.
Regardless of what Sonnen thinks of Silva’s skills and what he thinks he’ll be able to do to Silva come UFC 148 on July 7 in Las Vegas, he has managed to do something to Silva that no other fighter has. He’s managed to drag Silva kicking and screaming out of his nice-guy shell and injected the “mean streets of West Linn, Oregon” in him.
Typically taking the side of professionalism and humility, Silva channeled two years worth of Sonnen’s vitriol and on Monday unleashed a verbal lashing like he’s never done before.
“People who live in the past and things that are in the past are in museums. Right now, I’m focused on what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, and right now, the playtime is over,” Silva said through manager and translator Ed Soares. “I’m going to beat Chael like Chael has never been before. No more talking. I’m going to beat his ass out of the UFC. He’s never going to want to fight again after I’m done with him.”
Sonnen, by contrast, had relatively little to say to or about Silva on Monday. Of course, much of his diatribe over the past couple years has been in an attempt to lure Silva back into the Octagon with him, a place he vociferously believes that Silva doesn’t want to be.
Now that he’s got the fight that he has wanted for so long, and it is on the verge of actually happening, Sonnen appears to have zoned in to the seriousness of the fight, putting his head into fight mode instead of promotional mode.
For all his antics and verbal gymnastics, Sonnen believes he is on the cusp of realizing his dream in becoming the UFC middleweight champion.
“I got serious about this fight a long time ago,” he declared. “I’ve been training for combat since I was nine years old, and I’ve wanted to be the UFC champion since 1993. I couldn’t think of a day in my life where this wasn’t serious to me.
“I’m not playing around.”