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By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor
Anderson Silva went off on Chael Sonnen this during a conference call promoting their UFC 148 fight on July 7. Silva promised to destroy Sonnen. It's really an entertaining read to see the normally stoic Silva spew such venom, especially at such a deserving target. Some are trying to spin this as being a good thing for Sonnen, that he's in Silva's head and this will make Silva act in a rash manner during the fight.
Let me be perfectly clear, I don't think that there's any way that this is a good thing for Sonnen. Anderson Silva is the greatest MMA fighter of all-time. I doubt you will find very many people who will try to dispute that, there's just too much evidence backing up Silva as the best. Guys on this level are motivated by trash-talking wannabes. Imagine a Michael Jordan, a Kobe Bryant, a Tiger Woods. Trash-talk motivates these guys. No one gets in their heads, that's for lesser beings. That's the mentality these guys have. Hell, Jordan was famous for inventing trash-talk from his opponents and using that to crush them. That motivated him. I believe the same holds true for Silva.
The deck was totally stacked in Sonnen's favor in the first fight between the two, with Silva having injured ribs and Sonnen on TRT that he hadn't been approved for ahead of time, yet he still found a way to lose. The fatal flaw that Sonnen has is that his submission defense isn't very good. Silva is fantastic on the ground, so Sonnen's not going to want to stay on the ground for long, even if he's on top. Eight of Sonnen's 11 losses have come by submission. There's no question he's a good wrestler, but he's never complimented that with good stand-up or a good ground game. At best, Sonnen is the same fighter he was the first time he fought Silva. The same fighter who had an injured opponent yet still couldn't close the deal.
Since losing to Silva in 2010, Sonnen has a nice submission win over Brian Stann, a guy not exactly known for his submission skills, and a lackluster win over Michael Bisping. How exactly can he draw confidence from this?
One of the bigger knocks on Silva has been the times he's toyed with his opponents. I hated when he did that because it was wrong on so many levels. However, Silva made it clear during the conference call that this wasn't going to be the case during this fight.
Sonnen has been playing a dangerous game. He's walking a fine line. He needs to beat Silva or else his gimmick is over. A loss here means the end of all his talk about being the uncrowned champion and all the other trash he's said. For his sake, he better hope he's gotten in Silva's head. I think that even if he's gotten into Silva's head that it's not going to help him, though. The Sonnen train either gains a ton more steam after this fight, or it goes completely off the rails. If Sonnen loses again, no one is going to want to hear what he has to say.
Sonnen has turned himself into the biggest villain in MMA. Every movie needs a villain. This has made Sonnen some money and fame, but the final act is approaching. If Sonnen is hoping for a sequel he better finish the job. When that cage door closes all the talking is thrown out and it's time to show what you got. Will Chael choke again? Or will he finally deliver on the promises he's been making for two years?
Comments and suggestions can be e-mailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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