- UFC 148
Anderson Silva hands Sonnen lesson in humility
Chael Sonnen brought all the big talk, all the promises and all the insults, but Anderson Silva proved why he is the greatest mixed martial artist on the planet with a second-round stoppage in Saturday's UFC 148 main event.
Rarely has a UFC bout ever been fought against such a backdrop of disrespect. Sonnen had aimed insults at Silva, his friends, his country, even his family - all with the intention of getting the champion angry.
He succeeded, and must now wish he never bothered.
Sonnen headed into one of the biggest fights in UFC history insisting he was a "cage fighter", predicting that a true cage fighter would overcome a "mixed martial artist" like Silva. That will never be the case.
The pair's first bout was sensational. Sonnen used his wrestling to torture Silva for four rounds before suffering a last-gasp submission. The last thing Silva wanted at the start of a rematch was to be taken down again, yet that is exactly what happened.
Right off the bat Sonnen rushed towards the Brazilian, shooting for the double-leg and succeeding, before maintaining top position for the entire five minutes. Silva's ground defence was much improved, limiting the damage done, but Sonnen did manage to work to full mount for the final 55 seconds.
Sonnen's blueprint had been set, but when he came looking for the takedown in the second, Silva fought it off - twice. For the first time the challenger was forced to stand and strike, and the outcome verged on the embarrassing.
Looking for a ridiculous spinning elbow Sonnen threw himself completely off balance, hitting the mat as Silva ducked. That gave Silva the window of opportunity to land the fight-turning blow and, lining up a knee, he intelligently attacked the body to smash the resistance out of Sonnen.
The challenger, who had not been stopped by KO or TKO for eight years, was clearly hurt and Silva began the pin-point destruction. Follow-up strikes landed with precision, and he looked like he wanted to land many more as referee Yves Lavigne stepped in.
Nevertheless, Silva told the crowd not to boo Sonnen in defeat, joking with the American: "If you'd like to have a BBQ round my house, I'd love to have you over for a BBQ."
To his credit, Sonnen was gracious in defeat, saying: "I'm very grateful for the opportunity, he's the champion man. He got me with a good knee, it wasn't to be."
In the co-main event, Tito Ortiz's final UFC bout ended in defeat, but only after he dropped Forrest Griffin twice in the completion of their trilogy. Having won one bout each, Griffin threw a far greater volume of strikes in a deserved unanimous 29-28 decision, which was booed by the crowd.
Ortiz found a right hand in the second stanza and a left hook in the third to drop Griffin, but his gas tank ran low and Griffin peppered him with leg kicks and combinations. At the climax, Griffin ran out of the cage - only to be dragged back by Dana White, before he conducted what can only be described as a strange post-fight interview with Ortiz.
The return to the UFC of Patrick Cote failed to go to plan as he became the first man to lose to Cung Le inside the Octagon. Arriving with a plan to push the pace, Cote consistently ate the more significant strikes in a tight fight, conceding two takedowns in the third as Le claimed a unanimous 30-27 decision.
Demian Maia's welterweight debut lasted all of 47 seconds as he stopped Dong Hyun Kim, who appeared to damage a rib. Maia instantly moved to Kim's back before forcing the takedown, and the impact when hitting the mat was enough to stop the Stun Gun - making for a successful first dip into the 170lb ocean for Maia.
Elsewhere, Chad Mendes bounced back from defeat to featherweight champion Jose Aldo with a 31-second knockout of Cody McKenzie. In an absolute mis-match on paper Mendes raced out of the blocks, catching a kick before turning out the lights with a pin-point right hand.
The night's opening fight on the main card saw Mike Easton earn a unanimous decision win over the hugely disappointing Ivan Menjivar. Menjivar had been set to fight Renan Barao before Barao's promotion to meet Urijah Faber, but he showed none of that calibre in a tame stand-up battle, won by Easton's superior pressure and Octagon control.
UFC 148 results
Anderson Silva bt Chael Sonnen via TKO at 1.55 of Round 2
Forrest Griffin bt Tito Ortiz via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)
Cung Le bt Patrick Cote via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Demian Maia bt Dong Hyun Kim via TKO at 0.47 of Round 1
Chad Mendes bt Cody McKenzie via KO at 0.31 of Round 1
Mike Easton bt Ivan Menjivar via unanimous decision (30-27 29-28 30-27)
Melvin Guillard bt Fabricio Camoes via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Khabib Nurmagomedov bt Gleison Tibau via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 30-27)
Constantinos Philippou bt Riki Fukuda via unanimous decision (30-27 30-27 29-28)
Shane Roller bt John Alessio via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)
Rafaello Oliveira bt Yoislandy Izquierdo via unanimous decision (29-28 29-28 29-28)