UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva had what many have deemed a career-defining moment this past Saturday at UFC 117 when he survived a four and a half round beating at the hands of Chael Sonnen only to come back with minutes left in the fifth round to submit Sonnen with a triangle choke. Silva spoke with GracieMag.com recently and gave his thoughts on the fight, stating that he felt a divine presence in the Octagon in those harrowing final moments.
“I feel we learn in all our fights, in victory or defeat,” said Silva. “We learn from everything, in every way, whatever the situation may be. What people sometimes forget is that God is above it all. I didn’t stop thinking of him for a moment, and he didn’t let me down. Of course, we have to train and all, but it’s really important to have faith. I remember having looked up between rounds and asked him to guide my movements and he enlightened me. It’s even hard to say something like that to a magazine like Gracie. A lot of folks will read it and think I’m playing to the media. But anyone who watched the fight could see all was lost and there were just two minutes to go. I felt a very strong presence from God there and that was important.”
“The Spider” took advantage of a brief lull in Sonnen’s relentless top-attack and locked up the fight-ending submission, prompting a single tap from the brash Oregonian. As soon as referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in to halt the action, however, Sonnen immediately acted as though he had not submitted (something he has been known to do on occasion). Silva harbors no ill-will towards Sonnen for the confusion added to the stoppage and says that he understands that Sonnen was just emotional from being in the middle of a pitched battle.
“Everyone saw that he tapped,” Silva said. “But you can understand how he’d behave like that in the heat of the fight. I’ve made some mistakes and everyone does, nobody’s perfect. The important part was that we had a good showing and the crowd liked it. I feel it’s a fight that will make history, we’re both to be congratulated. Now each of us will go to his respective home to see the family and we’ll work on improving.”
Silva has earned more praise than criticism for his performance against Sonnen and even the hyper-verbose Sonnen managed to emerge from the fight a character with whom fans could sympathize. Many have called for an immediate rematch between the two but, with challengers like Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami waiting in the wings, the issue will likely come down to timing. The most impacting factor will be when Silva can make his return off of a possibly fractured rib which he sustained in training some time before the fight. Silva’s jiu-jitsu coach recently indicated that “The Spider” will likely not appear in the cage again until early 2011.