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7 Questions for Silva-Sonnen II

Make or break match of the year
by Mikey Agulto | Jul 6, 2012
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It’s time to put up or shut up.

This is the underlying theme of what’s being billed as the greatest rematch in UFC history, happening on Sunday July 8, and pitting middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva against Chael Sonnen at UFC 148.

The animosity between the two Octagon warriors is deep. In the build up of their first match at UFC 117 nearly two years ago, Sonnen trash-talked his way to Silva’s head. For 5 rounds, Sonnen largely backed it up, beating the champion up on the ground. That was, until Silva caught him in a triangle-armbar with less than 3 minutes left in the 5th round—thus forging the greatest comeback in a UFC championship fight.

While you would think Sonnen would eat the slice of humble pie he was served, he continued with the trash talk in campaigning for a rematch. He even called himself “the real champion.” This weekend, all words have been spoken and it’s time to see what promises to be a great fight. Barnburners are what we like here at FHM HQ and this one will also answer seven lingering questions from the last fight.

Was Silva’s win last time a fluke?
Citing a rib injury, The Spider was barely in the fight for 4 1/2 rounds and according to stats from Fightmetric (www.fightmetric.com), he got hit an astounding 303 times while pinned on the ground in their first meeting. After barely surviving his fight with Sonnen, Silva won his next two title defenses, knocking out Vitor Belfort and beating up Yushin Okami. If those two matches indicate anything, it’s that Silva can finish a fight easily when he’s 100 percent. Should he dominate Sonnen in the same manner, all the fluke talk will be over.

Will Chael Sonnen continue where he left off?
Sonnen’s wrestling prowess was the story of their first fight. He took the champ down at will and controlled the fight on the ground. Silva was barely able to throw strikes and it proved this: when Sonnen commits to a takedown, you will go down. His last fight against Michael Bisping though, showed a different story since he barely kept Bisping on the mat. And when you’re on the ground, you’re prone to succumbing to a submission hold. This leads to the next question…

Is Chael Sonnen capable of defending against submission attempts?
The last fight for Sonnen was what we would call a “pera na naging bato pa” moment. Submissions have always been his waterloo. In his 11 losses, Sonnen’s been submitted 8 times, 4 of which are through a form of the triangle choke. With his game plan usually doing ground and pound while inside his opponents guard, he becomes vulnerable to being submitted. This time around, Sonnen worked with Brazilian Jiujitsu wizard Vinny Magalhaes to shore up his submission defense—an indication that he’s coming in well prepared.

Can Anderson Silva keep the fight standing this time?
Blessed with speed, power, and accuracy, Silva is the ultimate striker. But in order to throw those, he needs to avoid Sonnen’s takedown attempts. Silva had trouble against wrestlers in the past like Travis Lutter and Dan Henderson and Sonnen is in the elite when it comes to MMA wrestling. But Silva doesn’t mind being taken down since he has an underrated ground game. The champ has also predicted that this fight will end in a first round finish so it’s a slight giveaway that he will try to go for a KO.

How much did the trash talk affect Silva mentally?
Silva’s long been known to be respectful against opponents. He’s barely trash talked and always let his fighting do the talking. But in the lead up to this rematch, Silva has vowed to break Sonnen’s bones and knock off his teeth. He even said that Sonnen will never fight again when he’s done with him. The champion is angry and has hurled threats toward his adversary. But Silva is exactly where Sonnen wants him to be, how this affects The Spider’s performance is the interesting twist of the fight.

Is Silva’s long layoff going to be a factor in this fight?
The Champ’s been away from the Octagon for 315 days by the time fight night rolls in. That’s the longest layoff he’s had and ring rust has certainly affected many elite fighters in the past. But a well rested, and injury free champion is very dangerous and he’s had all the time to think about what he would do come fight night.

Should he lose, is Chael Sonnen really leaving the UFC?
Openly declaring this after beating Brian Stann, Sonnen’s WWE antics will be put to the test. Should he lose, is he man enough to leave the UFC? It’s a big possibility since he’s fought against the best and losing in his second attempt at the championship is a ground for retirement. But this trash-talking Oregonian certainly adds a lot of entertainment value to the UFC. The first fight and this rematch became a hot-ticket thanks to the self-promotion Sonnen did.

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WORDS BY WAYNE JOSEPH TULIO
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