Last night the MMA world was supposed to be set on fire when silver-tongued trash-talker Chael Sonnen announced he was heading to the light heavyweight division after a semi-successful stint at 185 pounds. Better yet, Sonnen also revealed an opponent for his first fight in the Octagon at 205 – Forrest Griffin?!?
Rather than tantalizing the proverbial taste buds of fans across the globe the response has been lukewarm at best. In booking the bout, the UFC made a gross error in judgment and failed to capitalize on what could have otherwise been a momentous occasion.
Sonnen made a conscious decision a few years back to portray himself in a certain way and found great success in the momentum he built for himself leading up to a pair of bouts against middleweight champion Anderson Silva. He has since established himself as one of the best promoters in the business by drawing fans in with his professional wrestling-like soundbytes and creating numerous match-ups people want to see based on the hype he’s created. Unfortunately for the UFC brain-trust, Griffin is not one of them.
Griffin is one of the most laid back individuals in the sport. He is not going to be baited into a war of words with Sonnen no matter how hard the polarizing pugilist tries. In fact, Griffin is more likely to laugh along with the MMA community at Sonnen’s jokes than reply angrily. Furthermore, Sonnen actually appears to like Griffin meaning any attempts at developing some steam behind their bout will be half-hearted at best if they ever even surface. Subtracting one of Sonnen’s best characteristics from the equation – his personality – was a terrible decision on the part of the UFC, especially when other options exist like Wanderlei Silva and Rashad Evans who can sell fights with the best of them.
It’s also a relatively boring bout style-wise. Griffin is much larger than Sonnen and is an above-average wrestler with underrated BJJ. He’s a better all-around striker than Sonnen too. Those ingredients make for a meeting where Sonnen attempts to take Griffin down multiple times and fails while Griffin peppers him with strikes en route to a three-round decision win.
The UFC may get it right more often than wrong when it comes to making fights. However, in the case of Sonnen-Griffin, who fight on New Year’s Eve Weekend, they dropped the ball like it was made of crystal and resided in Times Square.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC