UFC 117: Chael Sonnen takes Anderson Silva to the limit
By Matthew DeGonzaque (Sept 6, 2010)
Chael Sonnen wasn't supposed to be a serious threat. He was supposed to be a quick and easy victory for Anderson Silva. Sonnen a dead man walking, a loud mouth who was about to get the same treatment that Anderson Silva gave Rich Franklin and Chris Leben. All of Sonnen's talking in the lead up to the fight? It was just going to make his beating ever worse.

Everyone was wrong. Sonnen started the fight immediately by making a statement. Sonnen came right out and connected with a straight left to the face that stunned Silva at the 47 second mark. Sonnen continued to land big shots on the stunned champion and followed up by taking him down and working on his ground and pound. Silva showed absolutely no offense against Sonnen and didn't have an answer for Sonnen's wrestling. Silva could only try and hang on in the first round from his guard as Sonnen hit him with punch after punch. Sonnen easily won the first round. It was a domination, possibly with a 10-8 score.

Sonnen dominated Silva and showed that he wasn't going to be a pushover.

The 2nd and 3rd rounds continued with Sonnen taking Silva down at will and pounding out the champion. The only thing Silva could do was look for submissions from his guard, but he was failing and taking a lot of punishment in the process. Anderson Silva was being dominated.

Silva's best offense in the fight came in the 4th round when he came out and stunned the challenger with a barrage of strikes and took top position after a failed takedown attempt by Sonnen. But Sonnen quickly reversed the position and put Silva on his back and continued to pound Silva with strikes for the rest of the round. It had looked like all hope had been lost for 'The Spider' to retain his championship.

Heading into the 5th and final round, it was clear that Silva was down four rounds to nothing. Silva desperately needed to finish Sonnen to win the fight. They started out striking but all hope for Silva appeared lost when he slipped on the ground after getting hit with a left hook only 18 seconds into the round. Sonnen continued doing the same thing he had done the entire fight; beat up Silva inside the guard. This time though, Silva was able to slip on a triangle with less than two minutes left in the fight, Sonnen attempted to escape and Silva transitioned to a arm bar and, with no way to escape, Sonnen submitted at 3:10 in the 5th round!!

It was a tough fight and both men should be congratulated. Chael Sonnen (24-11-1) deserves to be commended to doing what no one else has done and taking the fight to Anderson Silva and beating up the champion. He was out striking and out fighting the champion, something no one had done before in Silva's 11 previous UFC fights. Even in defeat, he proved himself worthy of being a respected contender at 185. His only problem was that he has always shown weakness against good jiu jitsu black belts when he puts them on their back and it came back to haunt him again as Silva caught him with less than two minutes left in the fight. If Sonnen can go back and work on that weakness, he might be able to beat Silva if there is a rematch.

Also deserving of immense praise of Anderson Silva (27-4). He had an opponent who completely took him off his game and made him fight a kind of fight Silva isn't used to. Silva hadn't won a single round and was only moments away from defeat. Instead of choking under the pressure, he proved the kind of champion he was. He spent the entire fight trying to get a submission on Sonnen and when the opportunity finally presented itself, Silva took it and won the fight. A lot of fighters fold when they are taken out of their game and forced to fight a different style in a fight, Anderson Silva wasn't one of them. He fought off his back and defeated his toughest challenger to date. Silva showed once again that he is one of the greatest fighters the sport has ever seen.

As for whats next for both men; Silva was was supposed to defend his title against Vitor Belfort, but Silva's ribs were broken during the fight so he will be on the injured list until the spring. A good substitute would be Chael Sonnen versus Vitor Belfort for the number 1 contender spot. Winner gets the shot at Silva when he returns. It gives Sonnen another chance to fight Anderson and gives Vitor a chance to prove that he deserves a chance at the middleweight title.

The rest of the card had some highs and lows as well:

Matt Hughes (45-7) showed that he still has some relevance left in the welterweight division by defeating Renzo Gracie protege Ricardo Almeida (12-4). Hughes managed to drop Almeida with a left hook halfway through the first round. With Almeida down, Hughes quickly capitalized and put Almeida in a front head lock anaconda choke. Almeida passed out from the choke, giving Hughes the win at 3:15 into the first round. Its Hughes 4th win over a member of the Gracie team and he proved that he can still win big fights against welterweight contenders. Not sure who UFC would put Hughes in with next time, maybe Dennis Hallman (42-13-2) who has two submission wins over Hughes and defeated Ben Saunders on the prelims of this same card.

Jon Fitch (23-3) defeated Thiago Alves (16-7) by decision in an eliminator bout in the welterweight division. Alves had trouble making weight, only being able to get down to 171.5lbs at the weigh ins. Alves never had a chance to get his game off in the fight as Fitch had control from the moment the fight started. Fitch did what he always does, he put out wrestled his opponent and put relentless pressure on them to win a decision victory. Fitch put himself at the front of the line for another title shot against GSP. Alves has had a history of struggling to make weight at 170, it has been talked about him fighting at 185lbs but I think he's too small for that weight class. A smarter option would be for Alves to stop trying to cut 30lbs before the weigh ins of the fight.

Junior Dos Santos (12-1) defeated Roy Nelson (15-5) in a war. Both men came out punching and Dos Santos showed the clear advantage over Nelson, landing power shots and combinations at will. But Nelson was always in the fight and threatened Dos Santos with his one punch knockout power. In the end, Dos Santos had landed too many clean power punches on Nelson and picked up the decision victory and his title shot at the Lesnar-Velasquez winner.

Finally, Clay Guida (27-11) picked up a 3rd round submission win over Rafael dos Anjos (14-5). Guida had broken dos Anjos jaw earlier in the fight apparently and dos Anjos continued to fight through the pain, until Guida took him down and pushed his shoulder into dos Anjos jaw forcing the Brazilian to submit to due to the pain. Up until then it was quite an entertaining fight that appeared to have dos Anjos winning by out striking Guida.

UFC 117 was an amazing card. It had a great title fight and some solid undercard bouts.

Questions or comments,
Matthew at: mdegonzaque@hotmail.com
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