Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Anderson Silva celebrates after defeating Chael Sonnen during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Sonnen had previously pushed Silva further than any opponent had done in his entire history with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
For a moment there, it looked like history might even repeat itself.
Instead, we ended up seeing one of the oddest finishing sequences of any fight in UFC history as "The Spider" reigned supreme, putting the mouthy American down for good just 1:55 into the second round.
So where did Silva succeed where so many others had failed? And what's next for both tremendously talented combatants?
Emotions were running high to get things started as a the frenetic crowd screamed "Silva!" over and over, but the Brazilian stood no chance in the opening seconds, getting dumped on his back by Sonnen during his first strike attempt of the fight less than five seconds into the match-up.
But this was a different Anderson Silva. While he wasn't able to submit Sonnen off his back, he was much more alert and focused on stifling "The American Gangster's" attack, avoiding damage and tying his heated rival up.
If it hadn't been a title bout and with the history between both men, the bout likely would have been stood up, but Sonnen made Yves Lavigne look like a genius by not just passing Silva's guard but advancing firmly from half guard straight to full mount for the final minute.
Despite his spectacular position, Sonnen was limited to a handful of heavy punches and elbows in the crucial first round.
As round two started, Silva played it much smarter by not recklessly throwing a heavy punch as Sonnen bullrushed him into the fence with another takedown attempt. This time, the Brazilian was able to sprawl against the cage and fend the challenger off.
Forced to back away, Sonnen became a bit easier to hit as Silva connected with a few strikes (although he got a bit of help by grabbing Sonnen's shorts before landing a right hand).
After another failed Sonnen takedown attempt, the American seemed desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures. Unfortunately for Sonnen, his next measure was a horrible, horrible decision.
Sonnen wound up and fired off with a spinning back fist at Silva, which the champion easily avoided but Sonnen threw it with such momentum and poor footwork that he lost his balance. Silva, seeing a gift in front of him, stepped forward hungrily and blasted Sonnen with a knee square to the chest before following up with huge right hands.
The American wasn't quite through yet, working his way back to his feet, but Silva hit him so hard with a right hand that, despite being blocked, Sonnen dropped to the ground again.
This time, Silva would not let him back to his feet, repeatedly clobbering the challenger with right hands on the ground until the referee put a halt to the proceedings.
For Chael Sonnen, he is going to regret that spinning back fist almost as much as he regrets allowing Silva to have wrist control for 20 seconds in the fifth round of the first bout against Silva. I don't know why he thought he could pull something off like that against the greatest striker in MMA history, but it was the type of move that does not fit his style. It was reckless and was thrown with such poor footwork that he basically took himself out of the fight. Up until that point, he was winning and he was competitive. He's going to have a long, long time to think about it too because I doubt he ever gets an opportunity to fight Silva again.
Potential opponents for Sonnen could be the upcoming Tim Boetsch vs. Hector Lombard loser, the Mark Munoz vs. Chris Wiedman loser or maybe even a rematch against Michael Bisping if the promotion so chooses. I doubt he ever gets another title shot, but who knows, stranger things have happened.
For Anderson Silva, he took perfect advantage of a horrible mistake from Sonnen. Even better was the fact that he forced a mental mistake from the American by defending himself very well off his back in the first round and then fending off a pair of powerful takedown attempts in the second round. The second he got an opening, he took it. Granted, Sonnen handed it to him on a silver platter, but great fighters take advantage of great opportunities and Silva did not let Sonnen off the hook for his brutal mistake. Congratulations "Spider," you're the best fighter of all time.
Just like Sonnen, Silva will likely face whoever looks the most impressive fo the upcoming Lombard vs. Boetsch or Munoz vs. Wiedman fights which are taking place later this month. I'd love to see him squeeze in another title defense before the end of the year.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Did you think Sonnen blew it with his spinning back fist or did Silva force a mistake? How much longer do you think "The Spider" can keep dominating the middleweight division?