It is a rare occasion when you get an inside look at Anderson Silva. Like Water shows a fascinating backstory behind one of the greatest fights and fighters in UFC history yet still left plenty of unanswered questions about who Anderson Silva really is.
I recently found some time to watch the Silva doc which is on Netflix and I have to say that I thought it was very good. It certainly wasn’t the best sports documentary I have ever seen but it was better than the average. The documentary follows Silva as he prepares for what turned out to be arguably the greatest championship fight in UFC history against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117.
If you are expecting to learn a lot about The Spider I think you’ll be disappointed. They certainly cover Silva’s beginnings and his entry into MMA. But the background is very brief which I found unfortunate. I would have loved to know when the greatest fighter of all time evolved, struggles early on, lessons he learned, stories about training with Wanderlei and his team, Pride FC, etc. They just aren’t here. This is more a simple story about the champion preparing for a fight than it is about Anderson Silva’s story.
The timeline here in Silva’s career makes this documentary even better. Silva is coming off a controversial win over Demian Maia at UFC 112. Silva and the UFC are at odds with Dana White basically threatening Silva’s job if he repeats that same performance against Chael. Ironically Silva never actually addresses this issue which seems kind of bizarre considering how big of a story this was and the fact that Dana actually addresses this in the documentary.
Silva leaves his family for three months and comes to the United States to train for the fight. Silva appears to be having a great time with his MMA family and friends. The film shows a different side of Silva during this time as a coach, a side you don’t see in the UFC. Silva is working with a protégé and winds up seconding him at a small MMA show. Silva is intense as a coach and shows more emotion during these few minutes than he often shows during his own fights. One of the biggest criticisms that Silva’s critics have of him is a lack of passion. He’s got passion, but where he shows it is the biggest question for me.
One of the biggest takeaways I had from this movie is that none of the trash talking Chael Sonnen did leading up to UFC 117 got to Silva. Anderson didn’t seem bothered at all and Silva’s manager Ed Soares appeared to find Sonnen’s insults more amusing than offensive. It’s funny because going into UFC 117 you had a lot of MMA fans and reporters playing up this story about Sonnen being in Silva’s head. He just wasn’t. Silva was more home sick than he was motivated by Sonnen’s promos.
Remember following UFC 117 and Silva said that he had injured ribs coming into the fight? I looked out during his training for this injury because Sonnen and some others accused Silva of lying about it. It happened. Silva did hurt his ribs close to the fight but it is really hard to ascertain how badly they were injured. There is a scene where he is warming up a day or so before the fight and he has to stop because they were bothering him. They certainly weren’t broken but there absolutely was some kind of rib injury prior to the fight.
I had mixed feelings about seeing Silva with his fans. Silva seems to have a really good time meeting fans and taking pictures. However, there is a scene where Ed is asking Anderson if he mocked the fans in his foreign tongue which Silva says he didn’t. Obviously for that question to be asked it must have happened before. There is also another scene where Silva is playing around and has to be dragged kicking and screaming to an autograph signing.
The other biggest takeaway for me was the scene where Silva and his team were practicing for the exact same scenario that ended the fight with Sonnen. Silva and his team were practicing Silva getting a triangle from his back. What is interesting here is that it appeared that Silva was having a bit of a hard time getting it during training, which of course could be due to the magic of editing. Nonetheless I was blown away to see him actually preparing for that same scenario which ended the fight.
On a side note if you watch the UFC 148 behind the scenes special that has aired on Fuel TV, you can see Sonnen practicing the spinning backfist quite a bit.
Other than the fight the most dramatic scene in the movie is probably the call Dana White makes to Ed Soares after the infamous UFC 117 media call. Silva gives one word answers throughout the conference call as Ed is seen just shaking his head in a remote location, obviously frustrated with his friend and client. Immediately after the call Dana calls Ed and basically threatens Silva’s job. Ed took it seriously and you have to feel for the guy who is caught in between White and Silva at a time when Silva was on the hot seat.
Even at that rate it still boggles my mind as to why the UFC never promoted this piece. One of the biggest problems they have with Silva is his lack of desire to do promotion. Here is a great vehicle to show fans and media another side of their biggest star. Maybe the fact that Chael comes back with a hot PED test dissuaded them from wanting to push the movie? I don’t know but it seemed like a natural and yet I don’t recall the UFC ever doing one second of promotion for it.
The biggest disappointment here is that you still don’t get to know the Spider in this documentary. Sure you follow him in training but there is not a whole lot learned here. If the fight didn’t turn out to be as legendary as it has, I wonder if the documentary would have been half as interesting. Lucky for them it didn’t and helped create a compelling movie with Like Water.
The time for talking is over. The UFC’s hype train rolls into station this weekend as one of the biggest grudge matches in the promotion’s history is set to unfold this Saturday night on Pay Per View. Live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada loud-mouthed Number One Contender Chael Sonnen will get another crack at history when he battles UFC Middleweight Champion and Pound-for-Pound Kingpin Anderson Silva.
The two originally met in a clash for the ages at UFC 117. The title fight was preceded by a slew of trash talk from the loud-mouthed challenger Sonnen who insulted Silva’s family, country, training partners and even his wife. He then went on to dominate the champion for four rounds, putting a beating on the champion like no one had ever done before. Then in the final round, it was all for naught as the champion pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history with a Triangle Choke that currently stands as the latest stoppage in a UFC Bout ever.
Nearly two years have passed since that last bout, but many questions still remain. Chael Sonnen proceeded to fail a post-fight drug test and was subsequently suspended for a year by the California State Athletic Commission. He also suffered some legal trouble in the form of a money laundering conviction. Since his return to the cage he has notched a dominating victory over Brian Stann and a close Decision victory over Michael Bisping to earn another chance at Silva. The champion also has two wins since his fight against Sonnen; one a devastating front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort and the other a dominating TKO victory of Yushin Okami in his home country of Brazil.
When: Saturday July 7, 2012
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Live on Pay Per View as the headlining bout of UFC 148
The Fight: UFC Middleweight Championship Bout (5 x 5 minute rounds)
Fighter Profile: Challenger – Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen
Recent Fight History:
UFC on Fox 2 – Defeated Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision at 5:00 of Round 3
UFC 136 – Defeated Brian Stann via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke) at 3:51 of Round 2
UFC 117 – Defeated by Anderson Silva via Submission (Triangle Choke) at 3:10 of Round 5
Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen is an American fighter from Milwaukie, Oregon. The 35-year-old is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Oregon and was also an Olympic Greco-Roman Alternate. Sonnen is currently ranked by many MMA publications as the Number Two Middleweight fighter in the world. Sonnen is a member of the Team Quest Gym training out of West Linn, Oregon.
Sonnen stands 6’1” tall and has a 74-inch reach. He is a southpaw, which contributed to some of his success in his first bout against the Champion at UFC 117. Sonnen prefers to use his wrestling in his bouts. He has excellent takedowns and is an absolute handful when in top position. He is constantly working to pass guard and is constantly throwing ground and pound and short elbows, which may not be the most damaging blows, but often accumulate damage and score points with the judges.
According to Fight Metric Sonnen lands an average of 3.24 Significant Strikes per Minute in his bouts and hits at a 44% accuracy. In their first fight, Sonnen was able to land more significant strikes against Silva than the rest of his UFC opponents combined, landing 320 of 434 Total Strikes. Sonnen is also one of the better defensive fighters at Middleweight statistically as he absorbs less than one Significant Strike per Minute on average, with a Striking Defense average of 68%. Perhaps the more important numbers for the challenger heading into this bout are his grappling statistics. Sonnen averages over 4 Takedowns per 15 Minutes of fighting time and lands his takedowns at a 62% average.
Fighter Profile: The Champion – Anderson “The Spider” Silva
Recent Fight History:
UFC 134 – Defeated Yushin Okami via TKO (Punches) at 2:04 of Round 2
UFC 126 – Defeated Vitor Belfort via KO (Front Kick and Punches) at 3:25 of Round 1
UFC 117 – Defeated Chael Sonnen via Submission (Triangle Choke) at 3:10 of Round 5
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The 37-year-old is the reigning and defending UFC Middleweight Champion. Silva is a Muay Thai Striker who also has black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Tae Kwan Do. Silva is one of the most dangerous and most versatile stand up fighters in the world. He is currently riding a 15-fight winning streak and is currently ranked by all major MMA publications as the Number One Middleweight fighter in the world and is a consensus top 2 Pound-for-Pound fighter in the world, often sharing that rank with Georges St. Pierre.
Silva currently trains out of the Black House/Team Nogueira Gym in Curitiba, Brazil and Torrance, California. Silva is a former member of the famed Chute Boxe Academy, the former number one destination for Brazilian fighters. Silva stands 6’2” tall and has a 77.5-inch reach. He is a switch fighter, able to stand in both the southpaw and orthodox positions, but prefers to strike from the traditional Southpaw stance. Silva is one of the greatest counter punchers in the game, who can generate big power in even the smallest of bouts. One need only watch his bout against Forrest Griffin to see proof of that power. Silva also remains one of the best defensive strikers in the UFC, as his combined use of footwork and head movement along with shoulder rolls is second to none.
According to Fight Metric numbers Silva lands over 3 Significant Strikes per Minute on average during his fights. His striking accuracy is an astonishing 68%, which ranks him in the top three in the UFC for that category. His Strikes Absorbed per minute is also astoundingly low at 1.35, which would also be significantly lower if one were to exclude the results of his first bout against Sonnen. Silva is an underrated grappler and counter wrestler, but he has one of the best sprawls in the game. He is taken down less than once on average in a three round fight, with an average takedown defense of 69%. Silva rarely goes for takedowns or trips, but when he does, he is often very successful as he has nearly an 80% Takedown Offense (this could be slightly skewed as some websites fail to differentiate between takedowns, trips and knockdowns.)
Striking Offense and Power: Anderson Silva
Hand and Foot Speed: Anderson Silva
Striking Defense: Anderson Silva
Takedown Offense: Chael Sonnen
Takedown Defense: EVEN
Heart and Chin: EVEN
Fight IQ: Chael Sonnen
Submission Offense and Defense: Anderson Silva
Fight Breakdown, Analysis and Prediction
In their first bout Chael was able to absolutely batter the Brazilian champion everywhere the fight went. He landed more strikes and did more damage in the first round than most of Silva’s octagon opponents to date had accomplished. Silva’s striking game is based on the opinion that most of his opponents will be tentative and gun-shy when they are locked in the cage across from him. Sonnen showed the world what happens when you aren’t scared and simply charged forward behind punches that while not the most technically sound, definitely did their job and allowed him to close the distance quickly.
Another thing that worked against Silva in that first fight was Sonnen’s ability to switch stances regularly. Although both men are natural Southpaws, Sonnen switched constantly while swinging punches and this hampered Silva’s ability to keep distance between the two at a reasonable length. Silva is also an expert at using a variety of Muay Thai kicks and a strong job to keep his opponents at a range. This range is extremely important to Silva’s overall game, as it is what allows him to dictate the range and tempo of his bouts and use his reach to his advantage.
Another thing that might need to be considered heading into the bout is that last time Chael Sonnen talked a lot of trash and Silva largely ignored the comments. This time around Silva has stepped up to the plate and unleashed a few verbal lashings of his own, including a stunning conference call where he told the worldwide media that he was going to “break Sonnen’s teeth out of his mouth and break both his arms.” Clearly Sonnen has gotten the response that he wants, and it will be interesting to see if that changes the approach that Silva takes during the bout.
It’s going to be nearly impossible for Sonnen to stop the champion. His striking looked impressive in the last bout, but he doesn’t use it to stop the fight and doesn’t throw with the necessary commitment to land big power shots. To do so, would likely be folly because it would leave him open to big counters, which is basically Silva’s bread and butter. Sonnen is also unlikely to submit the champion, no matter what his coaches or training partners say. Silva has been submitted only twice in his career and that was many years ago. Since then he has handled a number of higher caliber submission grapplers than Sonnen; Demian Maia, Thales Leites and Travis Lutter all come to mind.
For Sonnen to win he’s going to need an exact repeat performance of the last bout, minus the fifth round meltdown. It’s hard to imagine that Silva is unable to make the necessary adjustments needed to neutralize Sonnen’s takedowns. For Anderson there are numerous paths to victory. He could likely knock Sonnen out, Submit him again or try to sprawl and brawl his way to a Decision win.
I expect that Silva has watched his first bout with Chael numerous times and has learned from some of the mistakes that he made. He will likely be more willing to switch stances and keep distance between Sonnen and his lead legs, which will make it more difficult for Sonnen to land successful takedowns. Silva is surely training with Lyoto Machida and is learning a few circling techniques, which should help him maneuver around the octagon more efficiently.
Silva is too good of a fighter to get beat up again and he’s highly motivated for this bout. Silva’s striking will surely be more impressive this time around and his distance control will be something that he has worked on tirelessly. We’ve seen what the champion can do when he’s motivated. Destructions of Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin and Vitor Belfort all serve as reminders to the kind of devastation Silva can bring when he’s on point.
I think Silva has too much pride to let Sonnen escape with another close fight, let alone a victory. Silva was likely overwhelmed by Sonnen’s willingness to engage in the first fight, for this one he’s probably expecting it and hoping for it. If Sonnen has not made some kind of adjustments, he’s likely going to be playing right into the Champion’s game. Silva sticks and moves for a round or two to get confidence, before he really starts bringing the heat late in the second round. Silva obliterates Sonnen in highlight reel fashion.
It’s been almost two years since a big mouthed middleweight named Chael Sonnen stepped into the octagon to face the legendary Anderson Silva. The fight featured five rounds of drama, brutality, and intensity making it arguably the greatest fight in UFC history.
It is amazing to think that close to two years has passed since Sonnen vs. Silva took place at UFC 117. Quite frankly not a whole lot has changed inside the UFC for both fighters. Chael is still the brash, arrogant showman while Silva continues to dominate all comers, writing a legacy that may never be touched inside the world of MMA.
The climate is a bit different inside of the UFC. In 2010, the UFC was stacked with superstar fighters and grudge rivalries. Today, the UFC is starving for something exciting. Sonnen vs. Silva II couldn’t have come at a better time for the UFC.
Looking back at the events leading up to their first fight is rather interesting when you do it in 2012. Chael Sonnen defeated Nate Marquardt via decision win to earn the shot at Silva. Marquardt came into the fight as a heavy favorite with fans and media already looking ahead to Silva vs. Marquardt. Sonnen’s win was arguably the biggest of his career yet most expected a lopsided cakewalk for Silva.
Things changed as time went on or as Sonnen started talking. Sonnen did a remarkable job, maybe the best in MMA history at marketing the fight and turning himself into an MMA household name. Sonnen started talking immediately but it was a Q & A where he mocked Silva and predicted a war in WWE fashion that took a fight from afterthought to must-see UFC.
I would put the hype and fight on par with only the Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz series. The biggest difference there was you had two guys promoting the fight where Sonnen was a one-man band when it came to promotion. Silva stayed quiet which I think only added to the mystique of “What is Anderson going to do to Chael” leading up to UFC 117.
The biggest problem about UFC fights in regards to hype is that most of these grudge matches turn out to be letdown. Generally the underdog does a lot of talking and is destroyed in an uncompetitive fight once the fight takes place. That is where this one differed from previous grudge matches like Ortiz vs. Shamrock or Liddell and Mir vs. Lesnar. This fight not only met the expectations of the hype…it exceeded the anticipation and turned out to be arguably the greatest fight in UFC history.
Ironically for such a classic fight, it was fairly one-sided for four and a half rounds. Sonnen did as promised and brought the attack immediately to Silva. Sonnen charged Silva from the open and took down the Spider at will. Sonnen brutalized and I mean brutalized Silva on the ground for the better part of four and a half rounds. I will never forget watching Sonnen smash his hands in a clapping motion against Anderson’s head in hopes that Silva would release his guard. Here is how I described it in the recap.
“The fight was about as one-sided as the UFC 117 odds indicated it would be. The only difference was that it was Chael Sonnen dominating. Sonnen was just brutal, but Anderson Silva never stopped coming. Silva is just not human. The punishment he took would have killed a regular man. At one point Sonnen was slapping the temple of Silva with open hands and yet Silva hung on. Silva could barely even walk as he left the octagon. Silva put on the gutsiest performance you will ever see in combat sports.”
I remember wincing as I watched yet thinking about how anyone could withstand that kind of punishment yet continue to hold his guard. Silva took a beating, but he was impressive in the way he refused to quit. Then came the fifth round and arguably the biggest choke and most shocking finish in Mixed Martial-Arts history.
After four and a half rounds of dominating Silva, Sonnen was on his way to doing the unthinkable. All Chael had to do was coast for one round and the fight, the title, and Anderson’s legacy was his. Instead Chael did what he did in previous situations and let his guard down for a brief but critical moment. Anderson seized that split second and sunk in a triangle choke that will never be forgotten. Watching Chael tap with two minutes to go in the fight was both the greatest comeback and the greatest mistake I have ever watched in MMA. I had butterflies in my stomach when he tapped due to the roller coaster of emotion that Sonnen and Silva had taken me on for 23 minutes. I have watched plenty of comebacks in sports but watching a legend pull out a miracle to save his legacy was as thrilling as it gets.
You would never know it listening to Sonnen and Silva now but these guys had plenty of complimentary things to say about each other after the fight. They sat together in the post-fight press conference with Chael even joking about doing a reality show with Anderson. Chael had even hinted at retirement citing such a devastating loss. I can’t imagine any jokes being told between the two men in the UFC 148 presser this Saturday night/Sunday morning.
The fallout from the fight didn’t stop with the tap for Sonnen. Sonnen crashed and burnt hard. It took Sonnen over a year to get his personal life and professional career straightened out. As for Anderson, he went on to earn two dominating wins following the UFC 117 fight. While nobody wants to wait, the two-year separation between fights almost adds to the intrigue as opposed to the initial plans for an immediate rematch.
The biggest difference going into this fight is that you have both fighters talking. Silva cut a scathing promo on Sonnen recently in which he promised to break Sonnen’s arms, legs, teeth, and face. It was one thing listening to Chael mock Silva for his skills and language but it is another thing to listen to one of the world’s most dangerous man promise violence in a way that even had some reporters getting chills.
Sonnen and Silva will have a lot to live up to at UFC 148. Can Sonnen replicate the vicious attack he laid on Silva at UFC 117? Is Chael really that good or was Silva really as hurt as he claimed following the fight? The beauty of sports is that we will find out this Saturday night in what may be the most intense rivalry in UFC history.
The most anticipated UFC middleweight championship fight in division history is on. UFC president Dana White confirmed that Anderson Silva has agreed to fight Chael Sonnen. This contradicts recent statements from Silva and his camp saying that they would not fight Sonnen.
The news came late this week after a reported meeting between Chael Sonnen, Anderson Silva, and the UFC. Sonnen sent a tweet out on Tuesday in typical Sonen fashion letting fans know that there was a meeting scheduled this week between all parties.
“The bug got to Anaheim today, I get in tomorrow. We are having a meeting, and I AIN’T BRINGING FLOWERS….”
That will smooth things over. Well something happened at that meeting because on Thursday, Dana White confirmed that there would indeed be a rematch and the rematch would be next up on the docket for the UFC middleweight champion.
“It’s the fight that everybody wants to see. People want to see Chael vs. Anderson,” White said. “Anderson is in this position where he feels like the guy is so disrespectful he doesn’t want to give him a shot.”
“But Anderson will end up fighting Chael. The answer is yes.”
Silva is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and hasn’t trained in weeks. Due to his recovery, I wouldn’t expect the fight to take place before the end of February if not March. I am just guessing but it would appear from everything I have read The Spider say that he isn’t in any rush to give the challenger his rematch.
I get it but this stinks on a lot of levels. Quite frankly a man who cheated in their first match, never officially got re-licensed in California, and oh yes was found guilty as part of a mortgage fraud case is being rewarded for his shenanigans with an immediate championship fight. Sure he had to beat Brian Stann, but does that automatically make him the number one contender?
I totally get it and the UFC is just as much a business as anything else. But let’s face it, Mark Munoz should be getting the title shot here. If not Munoz, how about Vitor Belfort? Isn’t Dan Henderson owed a shot at some point after the song and dance the UFC did with him a few years back? My point being is that I don’t understand what qualifies Chael to jump to the front of the line after one win in the division?
The answer is easy, it is money. The UFC has a goldmine on their hands here with this rematch. I completely understand that. But in the end you are killing your credibility as a “sport” and the UFC is screwing guys that rightfully have earned the title shot over Sonnen. The only difference is that they kept their mouths shut and did the right things while Sonnen did it all wrong.
The UFC avoided a huge public relations nightmare the last time with Sonnen. What if Sonnen won? A week or two later it comes out that he tested positive for PEDs and now you have a situation where the legacy of Anderson Silva has been tarnished by a tainted loss. Even worse, they would have had a situation where their champion was not only suspended but was also dragged into court as part of a mortgage scheme (something he has surprisingly got an easy pass for by the fans and media). The UFC could have had a situation where Silva was tainted and their champion was in the news for being a felon. Sonnen put the UFC at great risk with his actions, and yet the UFC is willing to take this chance again?
Again, I get it and I understand the business. However, the next time Dana White gets on his soap box about boxing or another MMA’s organization’s booking, someone needs to call him out for this mess. White likes to compare the UFC to other sports. Imagine if the NFL changed the Super Bowl around because they didn’t like the matchup? White is cashing in on the circus and that is something a company as big as the UFC should above.
I just hope this ends with Chael Sonnen leaving the UFC. Then again, I can’t imagine that a habitual liar like Sonnen would live up to anything he says or promises.
It has been over 24 hours and the MMA world is still talking about Chael Sonnen’s challenge to Anderson Silva at UFC 136. Well guess what? Chael is still talking and according to him, we would have seen the rematch right there in Houston if he had it his way.
I will be quite honest and admit that I have been very harsh on Chael following his loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 114. The repeated lies and denials about his outside of the octagon activities have been more obnoxious than entertaining. However, after UFC 136 I think I am back on board on the Chael Sonnen entertainment bandwagon.
In case you missed it, Chael Sonnen returned to the UFC after a fourteen month layoff at UFC 136 and looked fantastic. He dominated Brian Stann for a round and a half, defeating Stann with an arm-triangle in the second round. But as impressive as he was in the fight, it was the post fight interview that rocked the house.
Following the fight, Chael grabbed the microphone from Joe Rogan and said, “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck. Super Bowl, weekend, the biggest weekend but we’re upping the stakes. I beat you, you leave the division. You beat me, I will leave the UFC forever.”
As shocking as that statement was, according to Chael there was more he wanted to say at UFC 136. Chael spoke with Ariel Helwani after the fight and told Ariel what he would have done if the microphone wasn’t pulled away from him during the challenge.
“He ducked me for six years. I don’t know why things would change now. If Joe Rogan hadn’t taken the microphone out of my mouth I would have told him Anderson Silva, I want your answer right now. If you accept I will wait until Super Bowl weekend but if you reject I will walk over there and whip you’re a#$ right here, right now in Houston Texas.”
Wow! I don’t know if I believe him but that could have turned into quite a scene. Now do I think that would have happened? No, because even if he was serious, security would have never let him get that close to The Spider. Additionally, Chael is a pretty tough guy. I think if he wanted to take the microphone from Rogan, he wouldn’t have had a problem imposing his will to do so.
Chael did find a couple of microphones following the fight to continue talking about Anderson Silva and his challenge. As stated above, he spoke with Helwani and answered some questions about the challenge. Ariel asked him why he only wants Silva to leave the division and not make the fight a straight Loser Leaves UFC match.
“He’s a coward and I don’t think he’d accept and you have to play by a coward’s rules sometimes. I am trying to lure him in to a fight so I have to stick that carrot out there, something that I think he’ll do.”
Does Chael Sonnen think this fight will even happen? He says no, but I think he believes otherwise.
“I don’t expect him to take the fight, he’s a coward. I truly don’t expect him to take the fight. You know this guy walks around, “I want the biggest fights”, well there is no bigger fight than our rematch stupid. “Well I want the toughest guys.” God never made a tougher man than me and my name hasn’t come out of your mouth once.”
So why up the stakes in the first place? Why even bother offering to leave the UFC if he loses? He’d get the fight eventually without those stipulations. So why put his career on the line?
“I don’t ever have confidence buddy, I am a gambler, I let it ride. I don’t have confidence, that’s what bullies do. Anderson is the bully. He’s the one with the confidence, picks on people he knows he can beat. I don’t know if I can beat any of these guys and that’s why I walk out there.”
Believe it or not, Chael was actually complimentary towards Silva in the Helwani interview. Not everything about the champion sucks according to Sonnen.
“I have seen Anderson dance and I will admit, he’s got some pretty good moves.”
All in all this is great stuff and we are only a couple of days into the build towards the biggest grudge match in UFC history. But is all of this for nothing? It is one thing to make challenges. It is another thing for the UFC to make the fight. Dana White was asked about this at the UFC 136 post-fight press conference. While he didn’t commit to it, he was more open to the stipulations than I expected him to be.
“I don’t know, sounds like a great idea. We’ll see what happens.”
With the UFC expanding into stadiums, is it possible the fight could go down in arguably the most glamorous stadium in the country?
“We’ve been talking to (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones for a while about doing a fight there,” White said. “It’s just got to be the right fight. We’re definitely going there. It’s just a matter of when.”
What about Brazil? Could you imagine the atmosphere for something like this in Brazil? Dana can but is more worried about Chael leaving the UFC alive as opposed to leaving the UFC at all.
“I want to get Chael out of there alive. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens but if it happened on Super Bowl weekend it’d be in Vegas.”
So what if the fight doesn’t happen? Well, Chael is already setting the stage for another grudge match. Chael was even more insulting to Vitor Belfort following the fight than he was Anderson. Chael had a message for Vitor in the post fight press conference.
“I forgive Vitor; he’s a fool,” Sonnen said. “He knows not what he says. You can’t hold a fool accountable because he got a little stupid in the media one time.First off, if my name comes out of his mouth again, I will bury him where he stands. Second off, tell Vitor to meet me at the hotel in 30 minutes because daddy’s got a plane to catch and I’m summoning him to carry my luggage.”
Say what you want about Chael but he is a brilliant promoter. Not only has he forced the UFC’s hand by giving him the next fight with Silva over Dan Henderson, he has also started working on the next fight following his championship rematch with Anderson. Well played Chael Sonnen…well played.
The next chapter in the Chael Sonnen began yesterday. Sonnen’s suspension is over and in his own words on Twitter, “I can finally get back to the most important thing in my life. Defending my Middleweight Championship.”
The Chael Sonnen saga is probably up to chapter 12 at this point. Between his positive PED test, his suspension, his legal proceedings, his re-suspension, his decision reversal, etc, etc it just never seemed to end. Sonnen’s CSAC suspension is now officially over. The new chapter will see whether Sonnen can get licensed to fight in the United States and whether the UFC forces him to reapply in California.
Sonnen can get licensed in other states without having to go back to California and face the music. Josh Barnett is a prime example of this. Texas is a state with a very loose commission that would almost definitely issue Chael a license. Of course he could always fight on one of the UFC international events as well without having to go through California.
Sonnen’s career was virtually over or at least according to him it was when he lost a hearing a few weeks ago in California to get reinstated. The CSAC turned him down and told him that he would be ineligible to reapply again until June 2012. However, the board later reversed their decision citing a misunderstanding in the rule in question. It should be pointed out though if Chael does decide to revisit California and lose a new hearing, he would indeed be ineligible to reapply for another year.
Sonnen wasted no time gloating in the news on Twitter. Sonnen tweeted to his 41,994 followers, “I can finally get back to the most important thing in my life. Defending my Middleweight Championship.” Yes even a failed PED test, a suspension, and a guilty plea as part of a mortgage fraud case aren’t enough to humble this man.
CSAC executive officer George Dodd told MMAfighting.com, “He’s back as far as he may be able to get licensed in other states,” Dodd said. “Whether he’s back is up to each individual organization to license him. I guess if he says he’s back he’s probably back into training, but I don’t know if he’s been licensed in any other state.”
Sonnen has kept himself busy on Twitter over the last few months. Sonnen has attempted to start Twitter wars with everyone from Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, and Jason Miller. He has specifically taken a real interest in Wanderlei Silva who isn’t amused.
“Sonnen… I kill him. I kill him fast. This guy talks a lot of bulls***, he talks s*** about a lot of fighters,” Silva told MMA Fighting.
I loved Sonnen’s UFC 117 promos but at this point he just comes off rather pathetic. I really have no interest in listening to a guy that choked in his last fight and is now a proven liar and fraud talk trash on Twitter to fighters who like them or not, haven’t failed PED tests, haven’t taken part in a scam ripping off unsuspecting home buyers, and have better win/loss records than Sonnen. It is really old hat if you ask me.
The next move will be a real interesting one. If Sonnen is the man of integrity he likes you to believe he is, he will go back to California and face that monster head on. I don’t see that coming. Although, Dana White has said that he wouldn’t commission shop for Sonnen so whether he makes Chael go back to California before he books him for another fight is a real interesting story to keep your eyes on.
Dodd predicts that Sonnen won’t have an issue getting licensed in other states. “I’m pretty sure he’ll probably be able to get licensed in other states. That was his interpretation, I believe, of his contract with the UFC, and that was a big blow to him that he couldn’t do that at that time. But to say that he’s out of it, that was his interpretation, not ours.”
This news also comes during a week in which Dana White fired Nate Marquardt for testing positive for the same PED that Sonnen did. White did tell someone on Twitter that Nate has had numerous chances, but will he bend over backwards for Sonnen after firing a main-event fighter so soon?
I don’t even know what you do with Chael Sonnen at this point. Anderson Silva, Yushin Okami, Michael Bisping, Jason Miller, and Wanderlei Silva are already booked in future fights and would be unavailable to fight Sonnen for at least five-six months. Vitor Belfort could be a real interesting matchup and would certainly play into Sonnen’s anti-Brazil rants, but he is booked. Lyoto Machida is free but they fight in different divisions.
UFC middleweight fighter Brian Stann is another interesting name and to my knowledge, he isn’t booked for any future UFC events. Could you imagine the nerve of Chael cutting promos on someone as honorable as Stann? Sign me up!
I am also real interested to see how the promotion for his next fight goes. Chael hasn’t shut up about anyone and will likely do the same trash talking to build up his next fight as he did for his fight with Anderson Silva. I am real curious to see if his opponents are muzzled otherwise they can air his dirty laundry for hours. I can’t imagine the UFC ordering their fighters to keep Chael’s personal issues off interviews considering that Sonnen has never shown any boundaries when talking about opponents.
UFC fans have probably seen the end of Chael Sonnen. The CSAC voted 4-1 to hold up Sonnen’s indefinite suspension. Sonnen told the CSAC that Dana White told him that his career is over if he doesn’t get licensed today.
Sonnen fought the fight of his life today. Sonnen met with the CSAC to get his license back after a recent re-suspension by the CSAC. The re-suspension came after Sonnen plead guilty in a mortgage fraud case and lied under oath to the CSAC. If Sonnen was telling the truth, today’s decision has ended his UFC career.
The UFC has stood by Sonnen during his battles with the CSAC and NSAC. It appears that the UFC is moving on. Sonnen told the CSAC today, “If I don’t get my license today I’m effectively retired. That came from the boss, Dana White.”
With tears in his eyes Sonnen reportedly told the CSAC, “I worked for this chance my whole life. I don’t want to retire today.”
I have certainly bashed Sonnen over the last several months for the stupid things he continues to say but it is hard not to have a little bit of empathy for him today. On the other hand, this isn’t a case of a fighter on the verge of losing his career due to a freak injury or car accident. Sonnen brought all of this one himself with his big mouth and failure to own up his actions.
Sonnen continued to skate around the facts regarding his alleged conversation with Kizer. His lawyer tried to have a declaration submitted by Matt Lindland that was thrown out. Although Sonnen’s recent interview with Ariel Helwani was brought up during testimony, specifically his answers to Helwani’s questions about Kizer in which Sonnen continued to dance around the issue. Sonnen’s continued lack of remorse really came back to bite him in the end today.
Sonnen also told the CSAC that he needs testosterone therapy for survival and compared his levels to that of a “93-year old man.” Sonnen’s mother took the stand and said she goes with Chael to the doctor and whether he competes or not, needs testosterone therapy. In an unintentionally funny moment she asked the CSAC, “did he really lie the last time he was here?”
The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 also came up today during testimony. A license will indeed open the door for a Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping The Ultimate Fighter season and subsequent fight. Sonnen told the CSAC that the UFC promised him a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to coach The Ultimate Fighter 18 days from now if he were to get licensed.
Sonnen told the CSAC that the UFC has told him that if he gets his license back, he will start on The Ultimate Fighter in 18 days. Sonnen described it as, “A once in a lifetime opportunity to be a coach on The Ultimate Fighter.”
The statement backs up several in the MMA media who have reported that Sonnen was in line for a spot on The Ultimate Fighter. Dave Meltzer was the first to break the details of the story. The story also puts Dana White in a real bad spot. White has told the MMA media that the reports of Sonnen coaching on TUF were false and the UFC has not made a decision yet. Under oath Sonnen has completely discredited that.
It doesn’t matter at this point. Sonnen has been his biggest enemy and the more he talked, the more he damaged his chances. Sonnen’s interview with Helwani really came back to haunt him as well as past comments he has made regarding his alleged conversation with Kizer. You never want to see anyone lose their job, but it is hard to argue for Sonnen when he continually puts his foot in his mouth.
There is also a question as to whether Sonnen really will be cut by the UFC following the decision. Sonnen’s PED suspension will be up in June, allowing him to fight in states that don’t abide by the CSAC ruling. The UFC could in theory just wait it out until June and book Sonnen in places like Texas ala: Josh Barnett with soft commissions. Could the UFC just say, “goodbye” because Sonnen can’t get licensed in several places?
They better or Sonnen is never getting his suspension lifted in California. The biggest factor in Sonnen’s suspension is his credibility and delusional rants which the CSAC don’t particularly find amusing. How will the CSAC feel now if Sonnen were to return without being cut after crying the blues about being fired? At this point the UFC almost has to cut him if he has any chance at being fully licensed by California. It is certainly a dangerous game of chicken Mr. Sonnen is playing if he really wasn’t threatened by White.
Chael Sonnen can not reapply for a license before May 18, 2012.
Update: Due to a technicality the CSAC reversed its decision.
“Upon reviewing the May 18, 2011 decision of the commission, an error in the applicability of Rule 399 was made,” stated a release issued today by the commission. “The rule states that, ‘Any applicant who has been denied an application for a license may not file a similar application until one year from the date of the last previous denial by the commission. Any application filed within the one year period may be denied without the necessity of a hearing. Anyone who has had his license revoked may not petition for reinstatement or apply for a new license until one year after the date of such revocation. Any petition for reinstatement filed within the one year period may be denied without the necessity of a hearing.’
What this means is that once Sonnen’s license expires this June he can reapply. Don’t get too excited yet. My hunch is that this is really just all semantics and unless something drastically changes, Sonnen doesn’t have a shot of getting his license back. Sonnen would have to reapply for the license and essentially go on trial once again. If the CSAC were satisfied punishing him for a year a week ago, why would that change in a month? The only difference is that the loss would delay Sonnen from reapplying until June 2012 rather than May 2012.
Chael Sonnen continues to be the gift that keeps on giving to UFC blogs. The on again/off again MMA career of Sonnen is off again. In light of Sonnen’s “false testimony” and money laundering conviction, the CASC has re-suspended Sonnen‘s fight license indefinitely.
On the surface it would appear that the CSAC is on some kind of a witch hunt against Sonnen. I can’t recall the last time someone has had as much trouble with state athletic commissions as Sonnen. However, when you look at the facts of the case and Sonnen’s continued ignorance regarding the matter it becomes incredibly difficult to offer up any kind of sympathy for the UFC fighter.
According to numerous reports, the CSAC has placed Sonnen on indefinite administration suspension. The CSAC cites Sonnen’s guilty plea in a recent money laundering case as well as what they have deemed to be false testimony he provided in a prior hearing. Sonnen and his lawyers will have a chance to plead their case on May 18 in Los Angeles.
Instead of taking his lumps like a man, Sonnen made things a lot worse by making these claims under oath. Even worse, is that Sonnen continues to dance around this with excuse after excuse instead of just manning up and admitting he lied. In the end it appears that the cover up is what got Sonnen into deep trouble as opposed to the actual crime of the positive PED test itself.
Sonnen was already in the midst of a fight for his license with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The NSAC wanted to speak with Sonnen on the record in regards to the alleged conversation he claims to have had with Kizer. That hearing has been delayed pending the outcome of Sonnen’s May 18 hearing in Los Angeles.
ESPN.com reports that the latest suspension puts Sonnen on the national database used by regulators to monitor medical and administrative bans, and asks North American regulatory bodies to contact California before issuing him a license to compete, corner, promote or act as a manager. Nevada will honor the suspension.
Sonnen was on track to coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter against Michael Bisping. Considering the fact that the announcement for coaches still has not been made, my hunch is that the UFC was still holding out hope that Sonnen’s troubles would all be resolved shortly. I imagine that the latest turn of events completely takes Sonnen out of the running. Even if Sonnen resolves all of his on May 18 with California, he still has to have a conversation with Nevada which is likely going to be very unpleasant.
It sounds harsh but Chael Sonnen’s MMA career is in serious jeopardy right now. He has nobody to blame but himself for his troubles. If Sonnen admitted to using PEDs he probably would have been suspended for a year and back without any troubles. Instead Sonnen is now in the midst of an indefinite suspension which could theoretically bring his career to an end depending upon how he approaches these hearings.
One year ago Sonnen was riding the height of his MMA career. He singlehandedly turned a fight that nobody wanted to see into one of the biggest draws of 2010. In addition to the superstardom he achieved in MMA, he was seriously under consideration for a political run in his home state of Oregon. One year later he is convicted felon without a license to earn a living. For a guy that talked so much about honor and integrity leading into UFC 117, he was the last guy I would have expected to implode from his own indiscretions.
I think it is also fair to question what kind of toll this entire ordeal has taken on Sonnen. Even if Sonnen regains his license, how focused will he be going into his next fight? How easy will it be for his opponents to get inside of his head before fights? Hey, Sonnen took the gloves off with the things he said about Silva going into UFC 117 and angered a lot of UFC fighters. I can’t imagine that any one of them will show him any mercy before or after their fight.
After receiving a six month suspension for a PED failure, UFC fighter Chael Sonnen found himself back in court. Instead of fighting to get back into the UFC now Sonnen has been fighting to stay out of jail after pleading guilty to money laundering charges carrying a max 20 year jail sentence.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Chael Sonnen you were wrong. After it looked like Sonnen was going to be able to put his PED failure behind him he found himself back in a court of law. Unlike Sonnen’s last appearance in a legal environment this one went under the radar. Well now the cat is out of the bag and Chael Sonnen may have gone from top of the world to the very bottom in just a matter of a few months.
Dave Meltzer reports that the UFC fighter pleaded guilty to money laundering in a mortgage fraud case. Sonnen was a mortgage in addition to being an MMA fighter. According to Meltzer Sonnen admitted, “that a financial transaction he conducted was designed to conceal or disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Oregon district.”
Newsday.com reports that Sonnen and prosecutors have agreed on a plea deal which will carry two years probation, a $10,000 fine, and a revocation of Sonnen’s license. While that all sounds like terrible news, it is the best possible outcome legally for Sonnen who could have gotten 20 years if he fought and lost the case.
ESPN.com reveals more details about the case. “Specifically, Sonnen allegedly arranged for a title company to pay $69,000 to a plumbing company for repairs to a Portland home, which Sonnen was involved in the sale. The release states that Sonnen knew that no repairs would be made to the home. Once the loan was funded, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the plumbing company was directed by Sonnen to pay $65,000 to the homebuyer as a cash incentive for purchasing the home.”
The news comes just hours after Sonnen’s return to UFC action was announced. It was announced that Chael Sonnen vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama has been signed for UFC 128 in March at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. This would be Sonnen’s first fight since his epic fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 117 back in August in which Sonnen came within minutes of defeating the legendary fighter and winning the UFC middleweight title. Plans for a rematch were immediately announced and then scrapped after Sonnen tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and was suspended for one year by the California State Athletic Commission, a sentence which was later reduced to six months.
I don’t know if it is some kind of a curse or what but Sonnen’s life has been on a drastic downslide the moment he left the octagon at UFC 117. The positive PED test and guilty plea wouldn’t benefit anyone but they are extremely damaging to the reputation of Sonnen. Known for his outrageous interviews, Sonnen preached morality leading into the UFC 117 showdown called Anderson Silva a “liar” and made national headlines for blasting Olympic hero Lance Armstrong for rumored drug use. Sonnen even went as far as to claim Armstrong got cancer from drug abuse, although Sonnen denies that he said it. Maybe it is karma or just bad timing for the former number one contender to the UFC middleweight title.
The irony here is that Sonnen was arguably the most popular fighter in the UFC immediately following his fight against Anderson Silva. Fans loved the idea that they had a fighter who spoke his mind and backed up every word of it. However if you thought he lost face getting popped for a bad PED test, I can’t imagine the ramifications of pleading guilty to mortgage fraud at a time when bad mortgage lenders are public enemy #1 due to the downturn in economy a couple of years back. I can’t imagine Sonnen having much good will these days among UFC fans after this admission.
I am real curious to see how the other fighters approach Sonnen from this point forward. There are a lot of Brazilian MMA fighters still very upset at Sonnen over comments he made about Brazil and fighters in Brazil leading up to his fight against Anderson Silva. While most fighters avoid airing the dirty laundry of their opponents, Sonnen has opened himself up for repeated ridicule. Unless a mandate comes down from the UFC I would expect to hear many fighters call out Sonnen on his own “lies” and indiscretions.
If there is one thing for certain it is that Chael Sonnen needs a win at UFC 128 more than at any other time in his career. Anything but a win or solid effort will kill this guy in the eyes of MMA fans. His political career is over, his mortgage career is over and his UFC career could be over if Sonnen doesn’t pull off the performance of a lifetime at UFC 117…without the help of any PEDs.
UPDATE:Dana White has canceled the Sonnen vs. Akyiama match and has suspended Sonnen for an undetermined amount of time.
2010 was a fascinating year in MMA and the UFC. The Fedor Emilanenko puzzle was finally solved, Chuck Liddell likely fought his last fight, after finally winning over MMA fans Brock Lesnar has more critics than ever and one of the greatest fights in MMA history was tainted by a positive drug test.
In my opinion, 2010 was one of the most exciting years for MMA than the last several. Going into 2010, the UFC was struggling to find a main event due to the biggest rash of injuries in the history of the company. The UFC was also battling a public perception of controversial judging due to several questionable calls at the end of the year. Wrapping up 2010 everyone looks relatively healthy, most decisions were without controversy over the year, and the UFC looks stronger than ever.
With that said, let’s take a look back at 2010 MMA specifics. If you agree or disagree with my picks, leave a comment and let’s fight it out. Otherwise sit back and enjoy the 2010 MMA Year in Review.
2010 MMA Fight of the Year – Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen UFC 117 August 7, 2010. There were a lot of great fights in 2010 but to me there were none better than Silva vs. Sonnen UFC 117. This fight had everything going into it from Silva’s terrible performance at UFC 112 against Demian Maia, to his indestructible record, to Chael Sonnen’s pro wrestling style interviews. Most grudge matches turn out like Rashad Evans vs. Rampage Jackson and rarely live up to the hype. This one not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded it.
This is what I wrote about the fight in my original post UFC 117 blog. “The fight was about as one-sided as the UFC 117 odds indicated it would be. The only difference was that it was Chael Sonnen dominating. Sonnen was just brutal, but Anderson Silva never stopped coming. Silva is just not human. The punishment he took would have killed a regular man. At one point Sonnen was slapping the temple of Silva with open hands and yet Silva hung on. Silva could barely even walk as he left the octagon. Silva put on the gutsiest performance you will ever see in combat sports.”
This fight was brutal, nasty, and Chael Sonnen’s to lose. Sonnen found a way to lose after tapping in the fifth in final round. Unfortunately as great as this fight was it is tainted. Since the fight it has come out that not only was Anderson Silva’s ribs severely injured going into the fight, but Chael Sonnen also failed a PED test. Even with the taints I still think that not only was this the greatest MMA fight of 2010, it is arguably the greatest fight in UFC history.
2010 MMA Upset of the Year – Fabricio Werdum defeats Fedor Emilanenko Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum. I cannot think of another upset anywhere as big as Fedor tapping out to Werdum on live television. Fedor Emilanenko was a living MMA legend going into the fight. As a matter of a fact, Fedor was such a heavy favorite going in that there was less interest in the match than there probably should have been. Most thought it would be Fedor walking through Werdum on the way to a title match against Alistair Overeem. Those people were proven wrong in less than 90 seconds.
This is what I wrote about the fight in the post fight blog. “Fedor Emelianenko engaged Fabricio Werdum and hit him with a flurry of strikes. Fabricio went down and Fedor went after him. I immediately thought that this was a terrible move for Fedor. The story going into the fight was that Fabricio had the superior BJJ game and if it went to the ground, Fedor could be in trouble. It went to the ground and Fedor was in trouble. Fabricio immediately caught him in a triangle, trapped Fedor, and tapped the Last Emperor for the first loss of his career (unless you count the blood stoppage in 2000).”
Even if Fedor comes back and defeats Fabricio Werdum in a rematch, no MMA fan will forget the impact that this fight had. Sadly for most casual MMA fans it was likely their first time seeing Fedor. Those fans would be unable to appreciate the magnitude of such a loss. Even if Fedor were to lose again, no loss will be as shocking as this one. What most people forget is that Fedor was in complete control until he got caught. He knocked down Fabricio and looked like he was going in for the knockout. I remember thinking to myself as he went in for the kill, “I don’t know if I’d do that Fedor.” It was undoubtedly the biggest tactical mistake of his career. No upset in 2010 will beat this and I can’t imagine any kind of upset in the next few years coming close.
2010 MMA Breakout Star of the Year – Jon “Bones” Jones. The pet project of the Fertitta brothers and Dana White in the UFC is now a household name. Even casual MMA fans are now familiar with Jon Jones. “Bones” Jones at the age of 23 is slowly breaking out into becoming one of the top UFC drawing cards. Jones went undefeated in 2010 ending both of his matches in the first round. He has only one loss on his MMA record which was a controversial disqualification loss in 2009 to Matt Hamill. Dana White has already said that “Bones” Jones will be tested in 2011. His first test comes at UFC 126. A win here depending upon injuries and other situations could put him either next in line for a UFC light heavyweight title shot or one win away from fighting the champion.
2010 MMA Event of the Year – UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin July 3, 2010. For me, this was one of the harder decisions to make in the MMA year end roundup. I was torn between UFC 116 and Strikeforce St. Louis but at the end of the day UFC 116 was just bigger, more exciting, and will have more of a legacy in the history of MMA than a random Strikeforce show with three knockouts.
Whether you like him or not there is no doubt that Brock Lesnar was the biggest MMA superstar of 2010. There was just something different in the air about his fights as compared to anyone else in MMA or even boxing. This fight in particular, Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin was arguably the most anticipated UFC heavyweight title match in history. It was a classic throwback to the big time heavyweight boxing championship matches where you expected heavy hands, blood, and an exciting knockout. The fight came close to delivering all three. The fight lived up to expectations with the most exciting round of the year up to that point in Round 1 when Shane Carwin manhandled the seemingly indestructible Brock Lesnar. Lesnar’s comeback in Round 2, winning with a submission capped off the most exciting night of the year.
In addition to the superstar heavyweight collision, Chris Leben vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama made their bid for fight of the year. Leben’s win, coming only a few weeks after his last fight propelled him to a level of popularity I never expected from a guy who urinated on another fighter’s bed on national television.
In addition to the two above mentioned fights, the entire card was full of great fight after great fight. To me, the high drama of Chris Leben vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama and Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin are more memorable than three quick knockouts in a row in St. Louis. To me, UFC 116 Lesnar vs. Carwin was the 2010 MMA Event of the Year.
2010 MMA Fighter of the Year – Cain Velasquez. This was a tough one as I went back and forth between UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. I leaned towards Velasquez for two reasons. One, the level of competition he fought in 2010 I think was slightly more competitive than GSP (on paper anyway). Two, both of his wins in 2010 came in dominant fashion with TKO stoppages in Round 1 as opposed to Georges St. Pierre who didn’t finish anyone in 2010 yet did dominate both of his opponents.
I don’t think what Velasquez did was as impressive as some people think it was. On paper he really should have beaten Brock Lesnar. Most MMA fighters picked Velasquez all along noting his faster and better stand up against Lesnar. But to destroy both Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, in the same year is really impressive to me. Not only did he beat them both, but he ended both fights in the first round and won the UFC heavyweight championship. I can’t think of many other MMA fighters that fought such high level competition in 2010 and dominated them with first round wins.
Again, I can definitely see an argument for Georges St. Pierre. The competition he faced against Josh Koschek was stiffer than the competition Velasquez got from either Minotauro or Brock Lesnar. But he didn’t finish him or Dan Hardy which is where I gave Cain Velasquez the edge.
2010 MMA Comeback of the Year – Rashad Evans. The former UFC light heavyweight champion and The Ultimate Fighter winner came back strong after suffering his first MMA loss. Evans came into 2010 looking to prove a lot of critics wrong who said he had an easy path to the UFC light heavyweight title. A lesser fighter would have struggled to recover from such a brutal one sided loss but not Evans. Evans not only came back, but came back strong.
Evans two wins in 2010 came against perennial top contender Thiago Silva and former UFC light heavyweight champion and rival Rampage Jackson. Both wins were unanimous decisions, although I wouldn’t call Evans’ win over Silva dominating. If there was a category for Strangest MMA Moment of 2010 it would go to Silva for having Evans on the ropes seconds away from a knock out and then immediately backing off to mock Evans, allowing Evans to recover. If not for the stupidity of Silva, he would probably be next in line for a title shot against Mauricio Shogun Rua.
Rashad Evans win over Rampage Jackson was huge for Evans. After a season of trash talking by both men on The Ultimate Fighter Season 10, Evans had a lot to prove. Jackson called him a fraud for most of the season and repeatedly pointed out his devastating knockout loss to Lyoto Machida. A loss here could have made Evans look like a phony or fraud. Instead he dominated the former champion with a tactical game of grappling that was practically flawless for three rounds. To come back from such a beating and then win two big fights in a row is enough to me to give Rashad Evans 2010 MMA Comeback of the Year.