It was the UFC’s version of Ohio State vs. Michigan, Yankees vs. Red Sox, or even Superman vs. Lex Luthor if you will.
For the past six years, Anderson Silva has ruled the UFC with an iron fist, but one man came knocking on his door two years ago and despite a loss in the first go round he continued to bang away until he got a second chance.
That man was Chael Sonnen.
Dripping with bravado and loud talk, Sonnen blasted Silva with ever insult he could muster of the last 24 months calling the champion everything from fake to taking shots at his home country of Brazil. On Saturday night he got the chance to back all of the talk up, but there was an assassin awaiting him in the Octagon and that’s agent of the deadly arts was Anderson Silva.
As the fight started, Sonnen rushed across the cage and immediately took Silva to the ground and it looked like fans could be in for a repeat of the first fight. The former All-American from Oregon pounded away at Silva’s head and body before finally moving into mount with just seconds to go in the round.
The Brazilian legend held on as time expired, but he was clearly down after five minutes with the self proclaimed ‘American Gangsta’ from West Linn, Oregon.
The second round saw a much different fight however.
Sonnen went for a similar quick shot to get Silva down, but this time the incumbent champion was able to stuff his takedown attempt and did so in a similar manner again later in the round.
Sonnen didn’t back off with his tenacious attack, but as fourteen past opponents have found out with a painful reminder…it only takes one mistake for Anderson Silva to put you away.
After backing away from a takedown, Sonnen through his own Jon Jones-esque spinning back elbow, missing Silva completely and falling down to the mat. Silva stalked forward and as he sprung into action he crashed his knee into Sonnen’s midsection.
Try as he could, Sonnen battled to get back to his feet only to come under the blazing attack of the best stand-up fighter to ever hold a UFC title and Silva was not going to let this opportunity slip away.
Silva blitzed Sonnen with strikes with one punch slipping through and dropping the Oregonian back to the mat. Silva followed up with a few more punches as Sonnen turtled up and covered his head, but the fight was clearly over.
As the referee waived the fight off, Anderson Silva stood proud once again as the reigning, and most successful champion in UFC history.
The war of words between Silva and Sonnen made their rematch at UFC 148 the biggest fight in the promotion’s history, and despite so many harsh things said back and forth over the last few weeks, the champion was still gracious to the challenger.
“Yeah. This sport is the best sport in the world, me and Chael working hard for the show for all the people here,” Silva said.
“Let’s show Brazil has manners and I want everybody to applaud Chael.”
Silva then pulled Sonnen over beside him, shaking his hand, and hopefully putting to bed the biggest feud the UFC has ever known.
“If you’d like to have a barbecue at my house, I’d love to have you over for a barbecue,” Silva said to Sonnen.
The disappointment in Chael Sonnen’s eyes was obvious. This was a lifetime of work both in and out of the Octagon and in a flash it was gone. He was the latest in a long line of victims that Anderson Silva defeated on his path to becoming the greatest fighter in mixed martial arts history.
“They gave me the opportunity, nobody owes me anything, I’m very grateful to be here and to have the chance. He’s a true champion.”
“He got me with a good shot it was on the ground, it was a good knee, and other than that I’m just going to have to look at the tape.”
A rivalry has been settled and Chael Sonnen has been silenced for at least one night.
As for Anderson Silva, there is no question at this stage of his career that he is not only the reigning and defending UFC middleweight champion, but the greatest fighter in current mixed martial arts history.
When anyone talks about Silva they say things like he’s the Michael Jordan of MMA or the Muhammed Ali of the UFC.
There will be a time one day soon when people look at athletes from all around the world whether it’s football, basketball, baseball or any other and say they are the Anderson Silva of their respective sport.