Sunday, July 8, 2012

Condor's Two Cents on UFC 148: Silva V Sonnen II

Condor's Two Cents on UFC 148: Silva V Sonnen II

Hey, guys, it's your good buddy, Condor, once again!  For those of you that happen to stumble on this humble blog for the very first time and have no idea who "your good buddy Condor" is, allow me to take a moment of your time to explain just who "he"/I is/am.  I'm 28 years old, I have a Bachelor's from the University of Michigan (Flint branch, but I'm none too sure if that is a detriment to the degree in question or not), and...oh yeah!  I have this thing called a "YouTube channel", wherein the videos attached to said channel have a rather plain (and kind of chubby, depending on your definition of the word) fellow sit in front of a camera (and in some cases, talk over gameplay) identifying himself as...wait for it..."your good buddy Condor"!  So...yeah.  Meet me in real life, and the conversation you're bound to hear will not have the lyrical ambience you're no doubt seeing in front of you right now as you read this.  In fact, you'd probably think I'd not be capable of creating lyrical miracles such as what you see before you (and, for the record, if you did say that, you'd be kinda sorta right, it really depends on my mood).  Bottom line is, folks, I write a hell of a lot better than I talk.  Anyone that knows me in real life can testify to that.

But listen to me jibber-jabber in a manner most annoying, I'm diverting from the main point of this post, and hard.  Maybe Mitt Romney can name me his running mate?  (Note: Don't.  I'd fold like an origami accordion during the debates.)  The whole point of this digital tome is to express my feelings and emotions on the UFC's latest offering as far as PPVs go, and I, of course, am talking about "The Biggest Night In UFC History" (Zuffa's words, not mine).  Yes, boys and girls, I am talking about the night of the biggest rematch in MMA history (something that, leading up to the fight, I wholeheartedly believed): Anderson "The Spider" Silva defending his UFC middleweight title for a record-setting 10th time against the man that throttled him from pillar to post for 4.5 rounds before miraculously getting tapped out, your hero and mine, Chael P. Sonnen.

Ah, Chael Sonnen.  If you're reading this post as an MMA fan, no doubt you already know the nearly 2 years since his last fight against Silva at UFC 117 (one of the very best fights of 2010) has been filled with nothing -- NOTHING -- but round after round after round of only the most innovative shit-talking to have ever graced televisions and computer monitors the world over.  Chael has gone from insulting Silva himself, to insulting his family, to insulting the very people of Brazil, all the while cutting promos that are worthy of placement alongside The Rock and CM Punk calling himself the true middleweight champion whilst accusing the actual champion of holding a fake belt that means nothing, but one that Sonnen is dead-set on taking from Silva anyway.  Guys, it got so bad that eventually (and if you didn't see this coming from at least a mile away, you've been living under a rock), Silva had some retalitory words of his own.  And as we heard the voice of Silva's translator over the radio waves put together the Portugese words of anger from Anderson Silva, one thing was made perfectly clear: somebody was going to get their ass kicked.  Badly.  And as if that wasn't bad enough, you should have seen them go face-to-face during fight week.  Holy smokes, it probably took every ounce of Silva's fortitude to not leap over the table and just retard-beat Sonnen into a coma during the pre-fight events, even as "The American Gangster" ran his mouth like a John Deere riding lawn mower.  It set the tone as being a classic match-up not seen since the glory days of pro wrestling: the popular, fighting, babyface champion taking on the equally skilled but severely antagonizing big bully asshole with a chip on his shoulder.  Cause nothing says a million buys like a pro wrestling storyline being the centerpiece of an MMA event, much less "The Biggest Night in UFC History".

I was sold on this fight the minute it was made official, and this was way, WAY back in at least the month of April, if not earlier.  I say this because I am not a journalist, I am a blogger (well, sort of).  A journalist takes time to prepare for an article such as this to perform extensive research to ensure that all of the facts he presents are backed up and cited from credible sources.  I'm doing this straight from my heart and my brain, so pardon me if the occasional fact that I put up from time to time is, in fact, incorrect.  And please, feel free to correct me, but know that, as a YouTuber and a general roamer of the Interwebz, I've run into a fair share of grammar-manglers and pip-squeaked keyboard warriors that only serve to type insults that became old right around the release of Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 ("chief" (lol see what I did there?) among them being a derogatory word to label a male human who is sexually attracted to peers of his own gender).  Totally unrelated video-game community rant, it is over.

Waitaminute, where was I?  Oh yeah, sold on the fight since April.  First it was reported that it was going to take place in Brazil, Anderson Silva's home country.  Then it was officially moved to the MGM Grand GARDEN ARENA (my obligatory Mike Goldberg impression) in Sin City itself, Las Vegas, Nevada.  And as the undercard and the main card started to materialize, I could only really think of one other fight of note besides the Big Daddy: that of the retirement fight of one Hunington Beach Bad Boy, now going by the handle of The People's Champ (no doubt thrilling Duane "The Rock" Johnson), Tito Ortiz, taking on Forrest Griffin, the pioneer of today's UFC standards (at least in the fan's eyes, anyway), for the third and final time.  And when I say "final time", both Tito and I mean it: the night before the fight, Ortiz was rightfully inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, right next to Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell.  Damn, those were some mighty fine times.  And now, he is poised to enter the Octagon for one final time, one last dance, with a man that he both defeated and lost to, one that is equally as skilled as he is (though much less experienced, seeing as Tito's been around since the dark days of the '90s), and most importantly, he's going in there to win this one last fight before hanging the flaming trunks up for good.

So, yeah, I gleefully plunked down the $54.99 required to watch the spectacle in stunning High Definition...but wonder of wonders, even as I sit here typing this, I'm convinced that I paid far too much for what I got versus what I was promised.  Granted, the PPV was still good overall, but...that's just the thing.  It was GOOD, not GREAT.  It was supposed to be this transcendent event, one that we could all point to when talking to our children about MMA and UFC and say "Junior, that's when I became a believer."  Or something, maybe it's just sour grapes.  But hey, don't necessarily take my word for it (even though, as a blogger and not a journalist, I'm pretty much forcing you to.  Right?), let's take a look back at the insanity that was UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II!

Preliminary fights on FX

John Allesio v. Shane Roller

There's not too much I can say about this fight (as well as the other prelim fights, but I'll give each set of warriors their own section since they admittedly brought the house and the kitchen sink), but Roller absolutely dominated Allesio, especially during the 2nd and 3rd rounds.  Of course, I was the idiot who kept flipping from the fight to the PPV channel and watching the weigh-ins again, so what do I know?  Regardless, it was a fight that could have been called by an untrained monkey: 30-27 unanimous decision for Shane Roller.  Allesio has yet to win in the UFC, despite his long (and positive) track record of fights, and as everybody knows, if you can't win in the UFC, everything else you do doesn't mean squat.  Oh, wait, that's WWF/WWE regarding talent from other successful pro wrestling promotions, never mind.  The UFC would never stoop that low (take that sentiment for what you wish, too, there are multiple angles to choose from).

Constantinos Philippou v. Riki Fukuda

Now this was a damned good fight, and I remember it for one outstanding reason: in the third round, Fukuda went all Three Stooges on Philippou's ass (unintentionally, but that's besides the point) by damn near burying his fingers into Philippou's eyes, then giving him a kick to the stomach for good measure.  Philippou's screams of agony could be heard visibly on PPV, and even Joe Rogan was distrubed by the proceedings.  What separates this moment from the rest, however, is the aftermath: Philippou decides to figuratively say "fuck it" and continues the fight, and goes full-blown retard on Fukuda trying to beat the shit out of him.  It ended up sealing the deal and the W.  So to all you kids out there, if you get poked in the eyes and hulk up afterwards, chances are those pesky bullies will leave you alone.

Gleison Tibau v. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Absolute bullshit unanimous decision call for the undefeated Russian Nurmagomedov.  Tibau beat this guy's ass like a bongo drum for three rounds, and the entire fight was contested while standing up.  The judges probably got paid off, but hey, what do I know?  Shades of the Nam Phan/Leonard Garcia debacle.  Rule #1: Never let it go to the judges.

Melvin Guillard v. Fabricio Camoes

Nothing truly eye-popping, but some good technique being shown.  Unanimous decision for Guillard, much needed victory seeing as he'd been slumming it up as of late (albeit against some truly talented fighters, so it's not like the dude's a bum or anything).

Main PPV Card

Mike Easton v. Ivan Menjivar

Here's the deal: if you want to start showcasing your bantamweight and featherweight divisions, don't put on a fight like this.  It was boring as all hell and it got nearly booed out of the building.  I didn't even give two shits that Easton won the fight, and the only other thing notable about this fight was the pose-off at the weigh ins.  Look, if you clowns want to pose with Hulk-fists and a standing karate kick, that's fine, but that usually means we're to expect an exciting fight, and you two fools didn't deliver on it.  WCW Cruiserweight division circa 1997, this sure as hell ain't.  Next!

Chad Mendes v. Cody McKenzie

We finally get our first finish of the night, and I could not have witnessed more of a joke in my life if a fully dressed clown was sitting next to me.  Just 37 seconds into the fight, and Mendes lands a shot to the solar plexus of McKenzie and sends him crumpling to the mat, where Cody proceeds to eat a few more fistburgers until the ref calls off the fight.  What makes this so sad for me is that Cody looked like he wanted to rip Mendes's head off during the weigh-in face-off, and he looked even more determined when he marched up to the Octagon.  This, coupled with the fact that he was a fierce competitor on The Ultimate Fighter, and it just seemed to give the vibe of "sorry, kid, better luck next time" as if he'd just failed to knock the last pin off the table at the county fair.  Maybe it's just me.

Dong Hyun Kim v. Demian Maia

While the last fight might have been a joke just to me and maybe a few others, there is no doubt that this first round finish was a lot wackier than that.  "Stun Gun" gets judo-tossed, eats a few punches, and then Maia hops off of his opponent and raises his fists in victory a full two seconds before the ref decides to call the fight.  It is then explained that Kim might have broken a rib during the transition, but for the life of me, when I tried to watch the instant replay, I could find no such evidence of a broken rib, or anything that might have put Kim in danger, other than the look of excruciating pain on Kim's face.  Obviously, this is where some criticism is most likely due, and if anyone can explain what happened beyond "he landed on his own elbow and broke his rib", it would be helpful.

Cung Le v. Patrick Cote

Damn good, solid 3 round fight.  Both men got busted open, and the fight was mostly standing, though the 3rd round did showcase a little bit of Le's ground game, and Cote even looked like he was trying to pull off a submission from his back in the closing moments.  Easily could have gone either way, but Le just proved to be the more dominant fighter.  Nice return fight for Cote, seeing as his last fight was against Anderson Silva, and he broke his ankle in the fourth round.  Hopefully we'll be seeing more of him.  (Editor's note: After doing a little research (read: looking over some old Rocktagon articles), I found out that Patrick Cote's last fight (that I know of, at least), was not his fight against Anderson Silva, but rather a bout with Alan Belcher, in which Mr. Cote was unceremoniously (and awesomely) dropped on his face.)

Co-Main Event

Forrest Griffin v. Tito Ortiz

This is the fight that, for all intents and purposes, should be labeled as fight of the night.  It was the one fight that I ultimately took home with me after the PPV was over, as these guys fought tooth and nail, just like in their previous two fights, though in the third round, it was obvious that Tito was running out of gas.  He was probably also letting the emotion of the moment overcome him slightly, and that was why Forrest was able to capitalize and squeak out the unanimous decision victory.  Everyone will remember the moment that the fight ended, and Forrest stormed out of the cage, leaving Tito alone in the middle.  It was so bad that Dana White actually had to pursue Griffin to get him to go back to the cage.  Whether this was done because he felt bad he was handing Tito a loss in his very last fight, or if he believed he lost only to find out he won, I don't know right now, but maybe I'll find out.  Regardless, when Forrest did return to the Octagon and was read the verdict, he was nothing short of a class act, even conducting the post fight interview with Ortiz.  We will never forget you, Tito, and everything you've ever done for this sport, good or bad.  We tend to think, though, that it was mostly good, and those are the memories we are going to carry with us.

Main Event

Anderson Silva v. Chael Sonnen

All right, this is it.  The biggest fight in MMA history.  A rematch nearly 2 years in the making.  Trash-talk, steroid tests, and more and more trask-talk.  It all comes down to this.  Who truly is the better man?  Who truly is worthy of being called Middleweight Champion?

And more importantly, is this going to be the last relevant fight, from a mainstream perspective, in MMA history?

This fight is make-it-or-break-it for the UFC.  If Chael Sonnen wins, or the fight goes a grisly 5 rounds with a clear unanimous decision, or (preferably) it ends up being a knock-down, drag-out retard fight for 5 straight rounds, then the UFC will continue to shine.  Anything short of this will be disastrous, to more than a few people.  It will be disastrous for Anderson Silva, it will be disastrous to the reputation of Chael Sonnen (which is the SOLE reason the PPV will make a million buys), and most important of all, the average fan will no longer give a shit about MMA if there is no more pro wrestling element to draw them in.  This statement might make me sound like a bitter Attitude Era Mongo-tard, but the fact is, I didn't start watching pro wrestling until around the year 2000, right around the time Kurt Angle defeated The Rock at No Mercy to lay claim to his first WWF Championship.  Had I caught the storm a mere 4 years prior, when the Monday Night Wars were starting to heat up, I would most likely be a different person today.

Why I'm making the comparison between MMA and pro wrestling is simple: this fight, Sonnen V. Silva II, is rooted in the very basic fundamentals of pro wrestling.  A bad guy who wants the fighting champion's belt, and uses every heel tactic in the book to talk himself into the role of the underdog in his first fight, and then a rematch when he got tapped at the last minute.  A champion of the people, one that everyone looks up to as the best in the world, having his reputation threatened by a lesser man.  It can't get any more pro-wrestling than this.

And make no mistake: their first fight is the foundation for their rivalry.  If the first fight had not gone the way it did that balmy August evening in 2010, this fight might not have even materialized, or have been anywhere near the spectacle it was being hyped up to be.  If Anderson Silva simply had dispatched Chael Sonnen in dominating fashion in the first or second round, Chael Sonnen would have just been another shit-talker that got his mouth shut.  But the fact is, Chael dominated Anderson for 4 and a half rounds, taking him down at will, and landing strike after strike after strike.  But the one thing that Chael was missing ended up costing him his dream: he was missing the idea that Anderson could trap him in a submission, and that's just what happened.  It was the craziest, most beautiful, and latest stoppage in MMA history, and a legend was born that night.  Not the legend of Anderson Silva, but that of Chael P. Sonnen.

Chael P. Sonnen, who then proceeded to spend the next 2 years doing nothing but talk shit and backing it up, submitting Brian Stann and defeating Michael Bisping en route to receiving his rematch.  And the shit-talking was nothing short of innovative, even -- dare I say -- evolutionary.  Sonnen evolved his mind games and his physical training for two years, and now, NOW, at the apex of it all, it was finally time to nut up or shut up.  The two fighters met in the center.  Referee Yves Lavinge gave the instructions.  The fighters returned to their corners, staring daggers at one another.  The fight was no longer a dream, but a reality, and this time -- THIS TIME -- there would be no dispute as to who the better man was.

The first round did not disappoint at all.  Within the first 10 seconds, Chael Sonnen shot out of his corner like a bullet out of a handgun and took Anderson Silva down to the mat with ease, and for the entirety of the round, Silva was on the ground and Sonnen was on top, hitting him with everything he could possibly muster.  Yes, Sonnen was in Silva's half guard for the majority of the round, but with a full minute to go, Sonnen finally got the full mount and did everything he could to rain hell down on Silva, but the champion was unfazed.  It was looking like their first fight all over again, and I, for one, who had sat on his couch all night, was now standing, rabid for another epic fight, one that would live in the annals of UFC and MMA history forever.

And then the second round bowed.

It was a little harder for Sonnen to get Silva on the ground, as his takedown defense suddenly decided to show up.  Silva was up against the cage, and he had a handful of Sonnen's trunks.  Yves Lavinge ordered Silva to release his hold, and it looked like he did, but the camera showed quite plainly that Silva still had a handful of the trunks, and as Silva pushed Sonnen away from the cage, he was still holding the shorts, and Yves finally caught it, stepping in to make sure the hold was released.

Sonnen then tried a wild spinning backfist, missing Silva by a few zip codes, and in the process, slipping and falling, hitting the cage.  Silva then proceeded to bury his knee into Sonnen while he was still on the ground and it looked for all the world that he struck him in the head, which was illegal.  Then Sonnen was on the ground, eating punch after punch, and then, it happened.  Yves Lavinge dove in to stop the fight, and the Spider was once again victorious, defending his title for the 10th time.  And with that moment died any hope of a competetive middleweight division, or a third fight between the two that would be more highly lauded than this one.

The replay showed that Silva did not, in fact, hit Sonnen in the head, but rather in the body.  That might have spelled doom for Sonnen right there, because like Tito Ortiz, Brock Lesnar, and Cody McKenzie before him, a hard shot to the abdomen was followed up by the finish of the fight.  Still, some of the more diehard Sonnen fanboys will find all manner of excuses to defend their hero from supposed injustice.

I will say this, though: for all his emotion and anger leading up to the fight, Anderson Silva was quick to forgive and forget, showing Chael Sonnen respect and admiration.  The man is a class act, to be sure, and the very definition of a babyface, deciding to take the high road after his hard-fought victory.  This may be what he is remembered for more than anything else when he finally retires: his humility in victory.  Chael Sonnen may have his day in the sun one more time, and if he wants to be champion bad enough, he'll do what it takes to earn another title shot.  But it won't be for some time.  And whoever is unfortunate enough to face off against Silva for his next defense...I do not believe that man will be the one to finally take the belt from him.  I honestly do not believe, now more than ever, that there is a man on this planet that is talented enough, skilled enough, and powerful enough to dethrone the middleweight champion, at least not now.

Overall, the PPV was good.  But, as I said before, it wasn't GREAT.  I'm none too sure if this PPV was worth the money I plunked down for it, seeing as it was supposed to be the biggest show ever.  It just seemed to be a more run-of-the-mill show than anything else, but that may be because the main event was so highly hyped, the finish took away all of the luster.  In the end, I'll say it was worth it, because of the Ortiz-Griffin fight.  That fight was what I took away the most from the PPV, and I'm glad I was able to witness it.  Now to deal with the malestrom of drama stemming from the most disappointing main-event fight in MMA history (and I say that tongue-in-cheek).  Until then, Keep it Condor!

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