On yesterday’s edition of ESPN MMA Live top UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen appeared as a guest commentator. During his appearance, he broke down each round of his UFC 117 performance against champion Anderson Silva; a fight which saw Sonnen dominate “The Spider” for the majority of five rounds before succumbing to a triangle choke late in the fifth. Sonnen also took a few seconds to comment back to Michael Bisping who had some choice words for Sonnen following UFC 117.
Sonnen explained his game plan to the MMA Live crew and revealed that one of the keys to victory was to disrupt “The Spider’s” rhythm early and often.
“We were able to control the action,” Sonnen said. “One thing you’ll notice if you watch Anderson’s fights is it’s pretty easy to get the jump on him right at the beginning of the fight. He takes a little bit longer of a feeling out process than most guys and he comes out very hard for the second round. We were prepared for that.”
Controlling the action and keeping the pressure on Silva was basically Sonnen’s game plan for the entire fight and it was one implemented to perfection until the late moments of the bout. Sonnen explained that he was looking to stay in Silva’s face throughout the fight, and especially in the second round when Silva is known to really pour it on.
“Going into round two, again, we knew he likes to come out hard in round two,” said Sonnen. “The feeling out process is done. He doesn’t lead with the jab, he leads with power knockout shots — big flying knees. We were prepared for that. I wanted to meet him across the ring — meet him in his corner and keep the pressure on him. Not only beat him physically, but try to take jhim out of the game mentally.”
Sonnen wore Silva down by maintaining constant pressure with his hard-nosed style of grappling but the most important thing for Sonnen was to stay busy on top to avoid a stand up, something that he did by firing off relentless ground and pound throughout the fight. Regardless of his success, though, Sonnen revealed that every time Silva landed a shot it landed with force.
“It’s important to stay busy,” he said. “If you ever get on top in a fight, you want to maintain that position. I really thought that the only chance Anderson is going to have is to land one of the fancy and athletic moves he’s known for from his feet. I didn’t see there being any problems from the ground position…Anderson never touched me once in the fight that didn’t hurt.”
The brash Oregonian made mention of the fact that he knew he had Silva beat and that, in the fight, he had already begun celebrating in his head. He told the MMA Live analysts that since Silva hadn’t been able to land any submissions for the first four rounds that he did not expect him to secure any in the fifth either. Sonnen thinks that this is what led to his eventual downfall and credits Silva for finding a way to win.
“Basics are what win championships, not fancy moves,” said Sonnen. “Two of the basics of submissions are you don’t let your opponent control your wrist and you don’t put your hand on the mat. I let him control my wrist. I underestimated him. I figured he had 23 minutes and he couldn’t do anything to me, it’s certainly not going to change now. That’s a big mistake. I let him have my wrist . If I got my wrist back, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Fellow UFC middleweight Michael Bisping took to Twitter following Sonnen’s breakthrough performance against Silva and issued this message: “I’m gonna beat akiyama then beat sonnen, he can’t do that to me. come on you salesman!!!! you can’t hold me down fag!” And although the message was pulled down the next morning, Sonnen got wind of it and had this to say in response: “If Michael Bisping ever addresses me in public again, I will bury him where he stands.”
Sonnen also mentioned that he believes he will be Silva’s next opponent but Silva won’t be his, as Silva is likely to be on the shelf until early 2011 with a rib injury. If Bisping gets past Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 120 this October MMA fans could be looking at a Sonnen-Bisping bout, which promises the most ridiculously hyped and trash talk-filled pre-fight build up possibly ever.