Home > Uncategorized > UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II

UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II

Fight fans have had this Saturday circled on their calendar ever since the main event was announced. That being the rematch between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and brash challenger Chael Sonnen. The co-main event is a trilogy bout between retiring Hall-of-Famer Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin, the original Ultimate Fighter. There’s even significant appeal to Canadians, with Patrick Cote and Ivan Menjivar, both training out of Montreal, also on the UFC 148 main card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Add it all up and this is one of the most anticipated UFC events in recent memory, promising to produce fireworks for Independence Day weekend. Thanks mainly to the headlining title fight, UFC 148 could rival the historic UFC 129 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre or even the stacked UFC 100 in Las Vegas for pay-per-view revenue.

Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

This scrap more than sells itself, but Sonnen is a master salesman — a former realtor by trade who also dabbled in politics — so not surprisingly he’s still fuelling the hype machine. More surprising is Silva’s willingness to exchange verbal barbs, showing unprecedented swagger and intensity while threatening to knock out all of Sonnen’s teeth. Silva has evidently taken some of Sonnen’s potshots personally and is now on a mission to silence The American Gangster once and for all.

Most opponents show Silva the utmost respect for his accomplishments in mixed martial arts, which include a 14-fight winning streak dating back to 2006, highlighted by nine straight UFC title defences, in racking up a 31-4 overall record. Sonnen (27-11-1) is the exception, constantly slamming Silva for everything and anything, while diminishing his laundry list of accolades and UFC records.

Sonnen makes some valid points amidst his madness, however. Most notably the fact Sonnen dominated Silva in their initial bout on Aug. 7, 2010, in Oakland, Calif., using superior wrestling skills to control The Spider for the better part of 20 minutes only to succumb to a last-ditch submission (triangle choke).

Silva survived that onslaught to pull off the latest finish in UFC history, and has since finished two more opponents — Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami — in more impressive fashion. Getting training tips from actor Steven Seagal, Silva has achieved rock-star status in his native Brazil, even gracing the cover of that country’s Rolling Stone magazine.

With a highlight-reel finish of Sonnen, Silva’s legacy would reach epic proportions as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. But if Sonnen can score the upset by delivering a repeat performance without getting caught, he would become the new face of the sport in the 185-pound division. I don’t see the latter coming to fruition, as I think Sonnen pushed one too many buttons on Silva, much like Josh Koscheck did on Georges St-Pierre, and as Silva said in a recent interview: “The game’s over!”

Prediction: Silva by second-round TKO/KO.

Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin

This is a fun fight between two former light-heavyweight champions, even if neither athlete is near his peak or prime at this point. Both are pioneers, responsible in their own right for the sport’s meteoric rise to mainstream. Ortiz has announced his retirement, win or lose, but he got an early start to his training camp and fully intends to leave the UFC on a triumphant note. That will be a tall order, though, having lost five of his last six fights and only winning once since 2006.

Ortiz (16-10-1) won a split decision over Griffin that year in their initial bout, which Griffin (18-7) avenged with a split-decision victory of his own in 2009. But Griffin hasn’t fought since last August, a knockout loss at the hands of Mauricio (Shogun) Rua in Brazil. Griffin has lost three of his last five and needs to win this rubber match to stay relevant in the 205-pound division.

Prediction: Ortiz by third-round TKO via ground-and-pound.

Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote

This middleweight bout should be a stand-up battle with both combatants best known for their striking skills. Le is the flashier of the two, but Cote might possess more power. Cote is also driven to succeed is his return to the UFC, riding a four-fight winning streak from other organizations. Le turned 40 years old since he last entered the Octagon — a TKO loss to Wanderlei Silva in a fight-of-the-night performance last November.

Cote (17-7) has one of the best chins in the business, having never been knocked out, so Le (7-2) will need to be at his kickboxing best to pull off a finish. I can’t see that happening, but I can see an entertaining (if short) tilt . . .

Prediction: Cote by first-round TKO/KO.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia

Maia (15-4) is making his welterweight (170-pound) debut, dropping down from 185. With a relatively slim frame, the weight cut shouldn’t pose too big a problem for the world-class jiu-jitsu practitioner. Kim (15-1-1) poses a much bigger challenge, his only career loss coming against current interim champion Carlos Condit last July. But Kim, nicknamed Stun Gun, rebounded to beat Canada’s Sean Pierson to end 2011 and can stay in title contention with a strong showing against Maia.

It will be interesting to see where this fight is contested, on the feet or on the canvas, as Kim specializes in judo and takedowns but may avoid gambling on the ground against Maia, a submission specialist. It wouldn’t surprise me if this scrap stays standing for the most part.

Prediction: Kim by unanimous decision.

Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie

Speaking of submission specialists, McKenzie is Mr. Guillotine, with his last 11 wins coming via that specific chokehold. McKenzie (13-2) may be a one-trick pony, but his trick is proving pretty effective. Mendes (11-1) certainly knows what to defend against, but he’s likely more concerned with going on the offensive. Coming off his only career loss in January, knocked out in a title fight by featherweight (145-pound) champion Jose Aldo, Mendes will be determined to bounce back with a convincing win.

Prediction: Mendes by first-round TKO via ground-and-pound.

Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton

This is a clash between two exciting bantamweight (135-pound) fighters who are on lengthy winning streaks and are undefeated in the UFC to date. Menjivar (24-8, 3-0 in UFC) has won by submission, decision and knockout thus far and, with another finish here, could be in line to face the winner of Urijah Faber and Renan Barao, who compete for the interim title in Calgary later this month. The same opportunity could be granted to Easton (12-1, 2-0 in UFC), who can stretch his overall win streak to eight by beating Menjivar. Both fighters are well rounded and aggressive, with Menjivar perhaps more technical and Easton more powerful. Sparks are sure to fly when they meet in the middle of the cage in a tantalizing appetizer for another night of great fights.

Prediction: Menjivar by split decision.

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