I've already written at length about the hype that culminated into this main event but what actually happened?
Anderson catches Chael very early on in with a straight right, but Chael remains composed, striking back at the champion. The two exchange punches and kicks for a while, and Sonnen does a very impressive roll escape after Silva catches one of his kicks. The crowd cheers for Silva.
Then, the near-unthinkable happens: Sonnen manages to sneak past Silva’s usually impenetrable stand-up defenses and dazes him with a clean left straight punch. Silva backs up, but strikes back at his charging opponent. Silva takes Sonnen to the ground, but the challenger quickly stands up and delivers several more clean punches to the champion’s chin. Oddly enough, Silva wasn’t defending any of them. In fact, he had his hands down.
Then, the story of pretty much the entire fight ensues. Champion wrestler Chael Sonnen manages to take down Anderson Silva and control him there for the rest of the fight, raining down punches and elbows from various positions, similar to what Jon Jones did to Vladimir Matyushenko at the very recent UFC Live 2. In fact, Sonnen seemed so impressive and so brutal with his strikes that I thought he would be able to finish Silva right there. But, man, Silva has a good chin and an incredible heart. He obviously got hurt plenty of time while Sonnen kept bashing his head in, but he never showed any signs of quitting. He kept active as much as possible, by adjusting his guard, throwing elbows, and attempting submissions, but he was never able to truly counter or reverse the challenger. The crowd cheers for Sonnen.
This would, in fact, occur throughout the entire length of the fight, even into the championship rounds. At the beginning of every round, Silva would come out very aggressive, attempting to perhaps finish Sonnen before he could take him down and control him again. Though still impressive with his striking, he was never able to evade Sonnen’s takedowns for long. Even after knocking Sonnen down with a solid right elbow to the face, Silva was still unable to finish him on his feet, and Sonnen still manages to wind up on top on the ground. It shows how extraordinarily impressive and resilient both of these top fighters are.
Then the fifth and final round begins, and Silva doesn’t seem tired at all. Many people doubted his endurance coming into this fight. It was widely speculated that the primary reason he chose to run away from Demian Maia for the last two rounds of his fight against him at the main event of UFC 112 was because his antics and clowning around for three rounds gassed him out. How then would he fare after having been controlled on the ground by Chael Sonnen for almost four entire rounds? Silva slips (he was initially thought to have once again be dazed by one of Sonnen’s punches) early in the round and Sonnen capitalizes by controlling him on the ground once more.
Sonnen, however, is seen to be complaining to referee Josh Rosenthal for stopping the fight, but the replay clearly shows he tapped Silva’s leg once. Anderson “The Spider” Silva keeps his belt and finally, after perhaps three terribly lackluster defenses, earns it in the hearts and minds of fans all over the globe. Chael Sonnen, though defeated, should have nothing to be ashamed of, as he was clearly the more dominant fighter of the night until the final round. He performed his game plan perfectly, but was just a bit careless in the end. He performed wonderfully as a fighter tonight, and I will relish watching him again in the future. This was a spectacular main event!
Check out the rest of my UFC 117 reviews and drop on over the official UFC website for more amazing photos of the event!