Tonight UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will make his record-breaking seventh title defense; this time against vocal Oregonian Chael Sonnen. Sonnen started calling out Silva before their fight was even confirmed and along the way he has made some very bold, controversial statements that have polarized mixed martial arts fans. In between training sessions, Sonnen has made claims ranging from the incendiary to the nonsensical and has called out everyone from Silva’s manager Ed Soares to world-class cyclist Lance Armstrong. While he has drawn quite a bit of attention to himself and to UFC 117, Sonnen may have alienated himself from MMA fans in the process.
At the weigh-ins for UFC 117 yesterday, Sonnen was audibly booed as he hit the stage and the scale whereas Silva, who himself has recently drawn the ire of MMA fans, was greeted much more warmly. “The Spider” has remained publicly calm in the face of Sonnen’s verbal barrage and his respectful demeanor, coupled with Sonnen’s abrasive and over the top approach to fight promotion, seems to have won over fans who had chastised the Brazilian for his polarizing UFC 112 performance against Demian Maia.
This past April, Silva defended his title against Maia, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace. Apparently incensed at something Maia had said in a pre-fight interview, Silva decided to absolutely clown Maia in the Octagon and for the first three rounds succeeded in doing just that. Things devolved late in the third and throughout the fourth and fifth as Silva basically ceased all attempts at offense, drawing boos from the crowd and intervention from the referee. “The Spider” has had to answer questions about that fight since the day it went down but it seems as though fans have finally decided to forgive him; or, they see this as a case of choosing between the lesser of two evils.