What fun is the aftermath of a UFC if you can’t make some crazy proclamations. After a lead up to UFC 136 that saw people claim that Chael Sonnen was “done” following his suspension, Sonnen ran through Brian Stann as though Stann were a rank amateur. He called out Anderson Silva for a rematch in the aftermath in typical over the top Sonnen style and immediately the debate began. After winning almost every moment of the first bout before being caught in a submission before the final bell, could Sonnen pull off the victory in the rematch?
Not only can he, but I’m willing to say he will.
Too many people write off what Sonnen did with his takedowns and striking on the feet because Silva had injured ribs. But Sonnen has taken down better wrestlers than Silva with ease in the past and I have a feeling he’ll do it again in the rematch.
Sonnen also takes punches very well so he should be able to eat a shot if he needs to in able to close distance and establish the clinch. One area where Sonnen does not get enough credit is his dominance in the clinch. He is one of the best workers from the clinch since Randy Couture popularized the position as a place to work strikes to takedowns. Brian Stann is not a small middleweight and Sonnen muscled him around when they locked up. It’s an area where he will be able to control Silva in the rematch. It isn’t like how Okami was ineffective in getting the fight to the ground against the cage, Sonnen is simply better in the position.
Finally, it’s all about learning from his mistakes. Sonnen has legitimately good grappling on the ground, but he gets aggressive with his striking and makes positional mistakes from inside the guard. He’s very good at passing the guard and he did a fine job in the first fight of working at least to half guard and doing damage from there. In the fifth round he hung out in Silva’s guard and wasn’t aware enough and got caught.
I expect more of the Chael we see when he’s on his game in the rematch. Bullying his way inside, getting takedowns from the clinch and working Silva over from top position while passing at least to half guard to limit Silva’s attacks off his back.
Silva is an amazing and rare talent. He’s a rare talent that has dominated the competition in violent fashion. But every fighter has someone who is a stylistic problem for him, and Sonnen just represents that for Anderson. Yes, Silva found a way to get a great finish in the first fight, I just don’t see him doing it again in the second.
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