Chael Sonnen almost shocked the world and backed up months of trash talking in a dramatic fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117, but in the end the champion once again emerged victorious.
Some had predicted that Sonnen’s ground game could prove effective against Silva, but what no-one could have predicted was that in the first round he also got the better of the fight on the feet. Sonnen rocked the normally illusive Silva early in the round and followed up with several more strikes that had the champion in real danger.
Things went bad to worse for Silva when Sonnen then took the fight to the floor and began to work his smothering wrestling game and landed some heavy ground and pound blows to finish off a perfect first round for the challenger.
Despite being beaten up in the first Silva comes out looking relatively fresh in the second. Sonnen gives him little time to get his striking going though before once again taking the champion to the mat where he continues to stay busy for the rest of the round.
A familiar pattern is now emerging as Silva finds himself back on the canvas early in the third round as Sonnen’s gameplan appears to be working flawlessly. A few elbows from the bottom are all the normally dominant Silva can offer in response as the challenger remains busy and gives him little room to move.
With three rounds in the bank Sonnen comes out confident in the fourth, but not so fast, Silva appears to have found his second wind and starts connecting with punches and kicks that appear to have him hurt. Now it’s Silva who takes the fight to the floor, but his spell on top is short lived as Sonnen powers his way out from underneath the Brazilian and reverses him. Sonnen then proceeds with the strategy that’s been successful so far in the fight, though a choppy elbow from Silva does open up a nasty cut.
It’s time for the final round and it looks as if we’re in for an historic upset here as Sonnen secures top position once again early in the round. It’s not over until it’s over though, and with just three minutes left Silva suddenly latches on a triangle choke. After a tense struggle Silva then begins to apply an armbar as well and Sonnen is left with no choice but to tap.
It was a jaw-dropping comeback from Silva who had looked almost certain to be heading to his first ever defeat in the octagon just moments earlier. All credit to him though for absorbing all kinds of punishment throughout the fight, but yet never giving up hope and still having the awareness to secure the submission the moment an opportunity presented itself.
Sonnen deserves most of the plaudits though for putting on a hell of a show and giving Silva the toughest fight of his career, not only on the mat, but also on the feet. On the strength of this performance it’s surely only a matter of time before he gets a well earned rematch.
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