UFC

Sonnen-Silva II makes for great show

Inside Fights Scott Sawitz
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After dismantling the man many thought to be the next middleweight challenger to Anderson Silva’s throne, Chael Sonnen threw a gauntlet as hard as he could to the middleweight champion. Sharing his feelings about Silva and challenging him to a fight on Super Bowl Sunday, Sonnen was less than his usual loquacious self before he walked out of the cage.

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Sonnen had nothing really of note to say about the fight, a grappling clinic that showed Brian Stann’s weakness against wrestlers hadn’t been rectified despite two years of intensive work, and finished Stann to mark his first victory other than by decision since 2007. Showing that the fight against Silva wasn’t a fluke, and that he still was the second best middleweight in the world, Sonnen’s challenge was perfectly timed. But the Super Bowl pay per view, traditionally one of the biggest ones of the year, isn’t the right place for the biggest rematch of Silva’s career.

The second UFC on FOX event needs to hold the biggest match of Sonnen’s career.

This is easily the biggest rematch in UFC history for a lot of reasons. The main one is that Sonnen made Silva look like he was human, and not a Muay Thai-versed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wrecking ball that he’s been since he debuted with an absolute thumping of the tough-chinned Chris Leben. For 23 minutes Sonnen imposed his will and made Silva look like a neophyte until Silva pulled off a brilliant submission that seemed a perfect finale to one of the greatest fights in UFC history. The cocky challenger put his thumb on Silva’s chest and cashed a check his mouth wrote but couldn’t come up with the payoff. It was so unexpected because Sonnen was talking a similar sort of talk every other challenger to Silva’s crown had made.

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Pay-per-view buys for Silva were less than normal because they thought the American wrestler was going to join the virtual “Bum of the Month” club that Silva was starting with the middleweight division.

With Sonnen laying down the gauntlet to Silva, and a first-rate matchup on the first UFC on FOX card with the heavyweight title on the line, the ideal follow up fight to that matchup has to be Sonnen-Silva II. There are too many questions that need to be answered for it to be just another pay-per-view fight and is seemingly too intriguing a matchup to be left off broadcast television. Why? Because Sonnen-Silva II show us what we’ve been missing since the end of 2010, when Sonnen was suspended from fighting for a variety of reasons.

We need to know whether or not Sonnen can duplicate that first effort. In many ways their fight and potential rematch parallels the classic boxing matchup of Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. In the first fight Schmeling fought the perfect fight and managed to put away the man universally regarded as one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the world of boxing. The second posed the same question: Could Schmeling duplicate the same effort against Louis one more time and take home the heavyweight championship of the world to Nazi Germany? While the second fight would wind up being a first-round beating from Louis, we don’t have that sort of resolution to Silva and Sonnen.

They are inextricably linked in history with Silva’s title reign and to the middleweight division. Silva is the dominant champion, having walked through a tough division and made some of the best fighters in the world look like newcomers. He’s gone up a division and destroyed a former champion. No one has given Silva a significant challenge besides Sonnen; Sonnen’s the man who pushed him to his breaking point and nearly put him over it. And for all the bluster from Sonnen about Silva, and all the dismissive talk from the Blackhouse camp, one major question remains that hasn’t been answered.

Can he do it again?

We need to know and the best venue would be in front of the world on broadcast television. No other venue can hold Silva’s massive talents and Sonnen’s massive ego. If Dana White and the UFC are serious about putting on pay-per-view caliber main event fights onto FOX, then Silva-Sonnen II is the perfect spot for it. It has the most intrigue and the two best highlight packages that’ll captivate America: Silva’s path of destruction and Sonnen’s mouth. It’s a match made for the UFC on FOX.

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