– “Sometimes, even if you lose, you win,” the old saying goes, and never has that been truer than in Chael Sonnen’s performance against Anderson Silva at UFC 117. We’ve never seen the champion handled like this either on the feet or the floor.
The ground and pound part I could at least have visualized prior to the fight, though I wouldn’t have expected Silva to take quite so many powerful blows in amongst the Jake Shield’s esque ‘pitter patter strikes’, particularly in the early rounds. The fact that Sonnen genuinely had Silva dazed and confused on his feet is astonishing though, especially since Sonnen is not known as a power puncher.
– You have to give props to Silva for his resilience and demonstrating ‘the heart of a champion’ as well. He took some heavy blows, particularly early in the fight, but he remained in the fight to the bitter end. By way of contrast it reminds me of the second GSP Vs BJ Penn bout last year where after being given a similar beating on the ground Penn couldn’t answer the bell for the final round.
The fact that he still had the presence of mind, energy and timing to pull off a technical submission that late in the fight was a true testament to his spirit and his conditioning.
– I had grown a little tired of Sonnen’s trash-talking by the time the fight came around, and I really thought it was going to come back to haunt him if he lost, but based on this performance it only added to the mystique of the fight and his reputation remains intact.
– I love the fact that Fabricio Werdum used a triangle choke with an additional armbar to end Fedor Emelianenko’s long unbeaten run, while just a few months later Anderson Silva would also pull off a triangle with an armbar to save his winning streak.
– At the post-fight press conference Dana White was noncommittal regarding whether Sonnen would get an immediate rematch, with Vitor Belfort also currently waiting in line for his turn.
– Jon Fitch Vs Thiago Alves went pretty much the way every Fitch fight goes with the tenacious wrestler shutting down Alves offense and smothering him on the floor. Certainly not the most exciting spectacle to watch, but with 12 wins in 13 UFC fights no one can argue it’s not effective.
– What Fitch’s style doesn’t guarantee him is a title shot however. If he had finished emphatically then he’d have put himself in pole position, but after going to a decision for the eighth time in a row he now finds himself neck and neck for the No.1 contender spot with the winner of Jake Shields Vs Martin Kampmann.
– Meanwhile Alves may be left to face a new start in the middleweight division after Dana White voiced his annoyance at the fighter once again being unable to make weight. The severe weight cut can’t be doing Alves any good and he looked sluggish last night so I like the idea.
– Clay Guida was in danger of heading towards another defeat against Rafael Dos Anjos before he reverted back to his wrestling roots. Guida’s undoubtedly a tough customer but he’s never going to be a top class striker and getting into a stand-up war’s in future might be something he should be looking to avoid.
– Speaking of tough, Dos Anjos has to get respect for continuing to fight despite suffering a broken jaw in the first round. It would have been interesting to see the judges scorecards had the fight continued until the end, but I think Guida’s dominance in the last round a half would still have given him the nod.
– I’ll confess I was amongst Matt Hughes doubters before his fight with Ricardo Almeida and thought he’d lose. All credit to the former champion for showing that he’s still got what it takes to compete against quality opposition at 170lbs with his impressive submission win, and showing he does have a little power in his punches just before that.
– After over fifty fights in the sport and all the accomplishments he’s achieved during his 12 year career it was nice to see Hughes still getting such a kick out of winning and during his post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani he couldn’t keep a smile of his face.
– Junior Dos Santos proved beyond all doubt that he’s a worthy No.1 contender at heavyweight with his three round battering of veteran Roy Nelson. His boxing, particularly in the first round looked very slick with a nice mixture of power and precision as he mixed up his combinations and gave Nelson a torrid time.
He also impressed by quickly shutting down Nelson’s takedown attempts to the point that by the later rounds the bigger man had all but given up hope of getting him to the mat. I also liked that he did pace himself after realizing that ‘Big Country’ wasn’t going to be finished easily. He also showed a good chin as Nelson did manage to land the occasional bomb during the contest.
– As for Nelson, he proved he’s got all the heart in the world and a ridiculously solid chin, but beyond that this wasn’t a good night for him. His striking looked one dimensional, his cardio was definitely an issue as you would expect with his physique, and though he has good ground skills, his takedowns are a weak point in his game.
Nelson is still a good fighter and will pose a problem for a lot of the heavyweight division, but there is a ceiling as to how far he can go and I don’t feel he’s ever going to cut it against the division’s elite like Lesnar, Carwin, Velasquez and as was shown last night, Dos Santos.
– Overall it was a very enjoyable event. It’s always great to end the night on a high, and the UFC have now done so in their past three major shows with Rich Franklin’s KO of Chuck Liddell, Brock Lesnar’s come behind win over Shane Carwin, and now Silva’s last gasp submission win over Chael Sonnen likely to live long in the memory and leave MMA fans craving more blockbuster entertainment.