Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen UFC 117 will go down as an all-time classic. It didn’t take long for people to start talking rematch. Resident MMA bloggers Eric Gargiulo and Jay Perrone recently got into an email debate about whether or not Chael Sonnen deserved a quick rematch. From that came this blog in which the two present their reasons for and against an immediate UFC 117 rematch.
It should be pointed out that the UFC recently announced that Anderson Silva will be out of action until 2011 with a cracked rib. The news almost all but makes this blog moot. But rather than shelve the blog, we thought it would be fun to post the blog anyway and take a hypothetical look at “what if” Anderson Silva wasn’t hurt. One could also look past the names and argue what the merits are for immediate UFC title rematches are. Regardless, here are the viewpoints from both Eric and Jay (written pre-Anderson Silva injury news) on whether Chael Sonnen deserves an immediate rematch.
Eric Gargiulo – Since when does choking after winning four and a half rounds earn you a rematch with the champion? In the UFC, it just may. Chael Sonnen brutalized Anderson Silva at UFC 117, but at the end of the night he was the loser. Dana White was asked in the UFC 117 post press conference that an immediate rematch is on the table. I just have one question… why?
I sat glued to my television set Saturday night for four and a half rounds of arguably the greatest UFC fight of all time. I can’t remember the last time my heart beat so fast during an MMA fight. I had chills watching Chael Sonnen back up weeks of trash talking and brutalize Anderson Silva. I would love to see these two warriors clash again in the octagon. I just don’t see the reason that it has to be next. Chael Sonnen may have dominated the champion for over 20 minutes but he also tapped to a triangle. Rewarding this with an immediate rematch makes absolutely no sense to me other than dollars and cents.
[adinserter block=”1″]What separates the UFC to me from other MMA organizations is how they treat their champions. Other than a few rare occasions, the UFC really does make its fighters earn title matches. It doesn’t matter who they are, if they haven’t won than they aren’t fighting for the title. Making an immediate Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva rematch goes against the grain of credibility they have worked to grow over the last decade.
I don’t understand what makes Chael Sonnen any different than Shane Carwin? Shane Carwin is at least one fight, if not two away from even smelling a rematch with Brock Lesnar. Carwin dominated Lesnar in an exciting round at UFC 116, but came up short in the fight. Yet the next two challengers for the UFC heavyweight title are already set, which means that the champion will be unavailable for at least a year. Where is Shane Carwin’s rematch?
A move like this would have a huge trickle down effect on the entire UFC. Giving guys immediate rematches because they fought a good fight prevents rightful top contenders from earning UFC title matches. Most UFC champions are only fighting twice a year. How fair is it for another contender who may have won three or more fights in a row to have to wait for over a year for his title shot because the last contender is getting an immediate rematch due to a good fight? Fighters have such a short shelf life in their prime due to injuries. Waiting a year and a half for a deserved title shot could be devastating to a fighter depending upon their age and how much punishment they have absorbed in their amateur and pro careers.
I do think there are special occasions where an immediate championship rematch makes sense. A controversial decision such as Shogun Rua vs. Lyoto Machida is grounds in my opinion for an immediate rematch. Although playing fair, I wouldn’t have been up in arms if they made Shogun defeat someone else first to get it. Obviously a champion who loses should get an immediate rematch. The irony there is that while BJ Penn is getting an immediate rematch against his successor, rarely does UFC even exercise that. Where are Matt Serra, Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Randy Couture’s rematches?
I would have chills if the UFC announced Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva II this week. I can’t wait to see the rematch. But at the end of the day, Chael Sonnen should have to at least win one fight against another UFC middleweight contender to earn it. If he can’t earn it, than he doesn’t deserve to get it.
And if Chael Sonnen is as good as he thinks he is, he won’t have any issue with earning his rematch.
Jay Perrone – Before I play Devil’s Advocate with Eric, we came up with the idea of this column before yesterday’s announcement that Anderson Silva will be out until March 2011 with a cracked rib. That does change things a little bit, simply because now, at least to me, the obvious choice is to book Sonnen vs. Belfort for a title shot while Silva is on the shelf.
[adinserter block=”2″]…but let’s suppose the world is perfect and Anderson Silva is fine and awaiting a rematch. How does Chael Sonnen not get a rematch after that performance? Yes, he got submitted, but no one in the UFC has ever taken it to Silva the way he did Saturday night. He took Silva down at will, smothered him on the ground, and, more shockingly, went toe-to-toe with him standing. You’re telling me that Belfort, a fighter who, despite his great track record in the UFC and lights out performance against Rich Franklin, has not even fought at middleweight, should jump right into the mix and get a shot over someone like Sonnen or Yushin Okami?
There’s also the “business” side of this equation. Sonnen single-handedly sold this fight with his, as it’s been described, “pro wrestling style” smack talk and he backed it up. The 117 card will wind up doing better-than-expected PPV numbers and was one of the most stacked cards of 2010. With the heat and interest it’s generated, you’re going to let that cool off while Silva takes a fight against someone like Belfort who’s never proven to be a huge PPV draw and, when he headlined with Franklin last year, did less then 400K buys? In the meantime, who does Sonnen fight? He’s beaten Okami & Marquardt (fighting Rousimar Palhares in September anyway) who are the other two top contenders in the mix.
Finally, there’s the precedent it sets for the rest of the UFC. Using Carwin as an example: yes, he dominated Lesnar for the first round and beat the piss out of him. He then got subbed almost immediately after in the second round. Sonnen? Dominated for 23 minutes of the fight against a champ that had not truly sniffed a loss in the UFC. Plus, to compare the divisions, Cain and dos Santos have been undefeated, dominant contenders worthy of preempting a Carwin rematch. In the MW division? There’s nothing but inconsistency at the top: Sonnen loses to Maia…who got KO’d by Marquardt…who got thoroughly outpointed by Sonnen…while Maia got “So You Think You Can Dance’d” by Silva during his title shot. At least Sonnen, despite his inconsistency, proved he deserved to be in there with the champ. With the BJ Penn example, Penn had all but cleared out the division. There’s no way you can justify any one of the LW contenders passing him for a title shot against Edgar. As for the others: Rashad (KO’d in R2 against Machida, not exactly a performance begging for a repeat), Couture (moved down a weight class), and Serra would have prompted a back-to-back-to-back trilogy, which, in that case is one too many fights in a row strung together between the same fighters.
While I think, on the whole, there should be time elapsed between rematches, the situation at the top of the MW division, coupled with Sonnen’s performance, begs for an immediate rematch…although I will agree with you on one thing, Eric: Sonnen will wait however long or go through whoever he has to in order to get one more shot against The Spider.
Update – Lance Pugmire of the LA Times wrote on his Twitter that Chael Sonnen will get an immediate rematch against Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title. Silva vs. Sonnen 2 is being penciled in for either New Year’s Eve or Super Bowl weekend.
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