LAS VEGAS, July 7 – The anticipation and animosity was unlike anything seen in recent history, but after six minutes and 55 seconds, Anderson “The Spider” Silva answered the pointed barbs of Chael Sonnen the only way he knows how, with the limbs that have led him to his 15th UFC win without a loss. And in the UFC 148 main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night, Silva left no questions, retaining his middleweight title for the tenth time with a second round TKO of his most heated rival, one that has chased him down since their epic first battle in 2010.
In that UFC 117 bout, Sonnen came perilously close to dethroning Silva before being submitted in the fifth and final round. This time, after nearly two years of trash talk, Sonnen looked to be on his way to an upset victory in the first round before the champ finished matters in round two, burying the hatchet in the process.
“Let’s show Brazil has manners,” said Silva. “I want everyone to applaud for Chael.
If you’d like to have a barbecue over my house, I’d love to have you.”
“They gave me the opportunity,” said a gracious Sonnen. “Nobody owes me anything. He’s a true champion, man. He got me with a good shot.” Watch Chael Sonnen's post-fight interview
With Sonnen pointing at Silva as the champion made his way to the Octagon and members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission keeping the two from having any physical contact before the opening bell, this felt like a fight dubbed by many as the biggest in UFC history.
Not surprisingly, the two declined to touch gloves, and after Silva missed with a looping left to start the bout, Sonnen rushed in and got the takedown with relative ease. The challenger immediately went on the offensive with thudding strikes to the head as he tried to push Silva to the fence. Silva had the presence of mind to avoid such a dilemma, but he still had no way to get back to his feet. As the crowd alternated chants of “Brazil” and “USA,” Sonnen swung a knockout blow at Silva, but came up short, with the champion throwing his leg up to look for a submission. Sonnen eluded danger immediately and put his hard hat back on as he pinned Silva and pounded away. With less than a minute to go, he got into the mount position, using whatever legal means he had to punish Silva until the end of the round.
Sonnen again rushed Silva to start round two. This time “The Spider” eluded the immediate takedown, but he was still pinned against the fence as Sonnen used knees and shirt strikes to open up a hole for the takedown. Instead, it was Silva who got loose, and while grabbing Sonnen’s shorts, he fired off his first effective strikes of the fight. Sonnen weathered the attack and shot for a takedown, but after Silva eluded the mat, the challenger missed a spinning backfist and hit the canvas. Silva flew in with a knee that landed flush on Sonnen’s chest. Stunned, Sonnen tried to survive under the resulting barrage of strikes, but Silva wasn’t going to let that happen, and referee Yves Lavigne halted the bout at 1:55 of the second.
“This sport is the best sport,” said Silva. “Me and Chael worked hard for all the people here. This is a sport, this is UFC.”