Opening Round: Oh, Chael No!

Dana White came out this week to confirm the UFC was pushing hard for Anderson Silva to defend his middleweight title against Chael Sonnen for a second time after edging him out in the last round of their epic encounter at UFC 117. Labeling it as a fight everyone wants to see, the UFC President’s statements support the challenger’s constant lobbying for a rematch and oppose the champion’s belief that the sliver-tongued Sonnen hasn’t earned another shot at winning his gold.

Though I would like to see Silva and Sonnen lock horns again at some point down the road, consider me amongst the group of people who would prefer to see things unfold a bit differently with West Lynn’s #1 Gangster dishing out at least one more drive-by decision before he gets another chance to unseat the 185-pound kingpin. There is nothing wrong with the UFC acknowledging the importance of personality/entertaining when it comes to marketing match-ups but they need to avoid putting a premium on it or placating to skilled self-promotion.

The world saw the best Sonnen had to offer a year ago and in the end it wasn’t good enough against a gimpy G.O.A.T. It’s not as if Sonnen is going to perform better than he did in the first go-round and if even he somehow does it simply means he’ll hold on for two more minutes to pick up the victory. That isn’t a particularly interesting scenario to me, at least in terms of one that needs to be rushed rather than put on simmer until Summer 2012.

Also, since being finished in the bout Sonnen has won a single time albeit in impressive fashion against an apt adversary in Brian Stann. Still, I have an intense dislike for awarding title-fights to competitors who are one win removed from a loss. As Silva has pointed out, Sonnen tapped. He wasn’t the victim of bad scoring or a referee’s mistake. In that regard I’d like to see Sonnen have his hand raised again before considering him for the championship clash. Give him Demian Maia who is coming off a win over Jorge Santiago, holds an opening round submission win over him from 2009, has expressed an interest in the bout based on some of Sonnen’s comments about Brazil, and fought on the same card as Sonnen last month meaning they’re both in a similar position where availability is concerned.

As far as what to do with Silva, let him heal up fully while seeing what happens at UFC 139 between Dan Henderson and Mauricio Rua, as well as a few weeks later when Jason Miller mixes it up with Michael Bisping. If Henderson wins he’ll have his choice of title-shots and revisiting their 2008 bout could be fun, while Bisping would be worthy of receiving the nod if he silences “Mayhem” and to be quite honest the image of Silva destroying “The Count” in highlight reel fashion warms my bones.

Sonnen is a lot of things – a showman, a hard-worker, talented, ridiculous, funny, a great wrestler…the list goes on and on. One item not included on that list is “deserving #1 contender,” and if you believe otherwise you’ve fallen victim to his WWE-style speeches like a child being lead to an arena by the pied piper of pugilism.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC

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