This Sonnen doesn't compare to Silva
We learned a lot of things Saturday night at the first full UFC on FOX card. Above all, we learned about Chael Sonnen.
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After a tough decision victory over Michael Bisping many scored in favor of the Brit, Sonnen engaged in his usual shenanigans in a post-fight interview with announcer Joe Rogan. And while Sonnen's interview may have been interesting, and his fight was close, one thing is for sure in the wake of his fight with Michael Bisping:
If this is Sonnen fighting at his best, he's not going to last five rounds this time with Anderson Silva in Brazil.
It's hard to say that without disparaging Bisping, but it's more of a statement about Sonnen than it is about "The Count." Sonnen isn't the same wrecking ball that took the Brazilian champion Silva through 23 minutes of sheer hell in August 2010. Sonnen looked better than ever physically and he has trash-talk shtick down pat, but he fought horribly on the FOX card.
You can blame his performance on a lot of things. He had been preparing to fight Mark Munoz and had his opponent switched two weeks out of the event, when most of the prep work for a fight had already been put in, and thus had to put together a game plan for Bisping in relatively short time. There are things he's been doing in for two months that have been committed to his muscle memory he didn't do because of the vast difference in opponents.
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Sonnen looked to be in better physical condition than his opponent, as Bisping was noticeably gassed in the third round. It was also the lone round Sonnen clearly won in the fight, and if it had been a five-rounder one imagines Sonnen would likely have won decisively. Bisping looked gassed because of the grappling-focused attack of Sonnen, which works a different type of cardio than his usual kickboxing-oriented style works.
Given two months to prep for Bisping instead of two weeks, Sonnen might have looked better. He came back after a significant layoff and put on a grappling clinic against Brian Stann at UFC 136 this past October, looking like the fighter who had wrecked Silva oh so long ago. But MMA doesn't work on "what could've happened if" scenarios; it runs on what actually happened scenarios. And the fighter Michael Bisping took to the limit would get chewed up by Anderson Silva right now.
If this is Sonnen at his best, like he professed heading into the fight and immediately thereafter, then the celebration after Sonnen-Silva 2 in Brazil is going to make the excitement after Jose Aldo's knockout earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro look subdued in comparison. Silva has to be licking his chops for a rematch after watching Sonnen-Bisping. If this is "greatness personified," as Sonnen preened to Rogan immediately after the fight, then Silva is on an entirely different plane of existence at this point.
If Sonnen shows up against Silva like he did against Bisping, he'll lose. There shouldn't be doubt in anyone's mind that Silva defeating this version of Sonnen is a seeming inevitability. Sonnen would have nothing more than the proverbial puncher's chance. In an entertaining fight with Bisping, Sonnen looked more like a middle-of-the-road fighter defeating a top middleweight contender. He looked like a sloppy fighter who focused more on his post-fight shenanigans than his actual in-ring performance.
If this is the Chael Sonnen who's been the No. 2-rated middleweight in the world since his war with Silva, then we've been mistaken. This Chael Sonnen will have his lunch money stolen by Silva in Silva's own backyard and there'll be nothing he can do about it.