Browsing all articles tagged with Chael Sonnen
Sep
21

Anderson Silva’s Last Four Fights

After defending his title for a record 10 consecutive times it appears UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva is out of legitimate contenders to his throne. After all, he’s beat seemingly every top middleweight in the sport and two of them he’s beat twice.  But he’s not quite out of matchups. Here are four fights fans can enjoy watching and that would challenge Silva.

Chris Weidman

Undefeated and in both MMA and the UFC, Weidman is the most obvious choice for a match against Silva.  He also has probably the most dangerous style to match against Silva. With great wrestling and submission skills and a relentless work rate Weidman is a killer in top position. If Weidman could get Silva down he could submit him. Of course, just as easily “The Spider” could pull off a submission from the bottom.

Michael Bisping

Bisping always seems to pull up just short of a title shot, but he has enough of a resume built up that if the UFC gave him a title shot tomorrow it wouldn’t be surprising. Or even undeserving. A well-rounded fighter, he’s the one man in the division I can see outpointing the champ in a decision victory. Of course while he’s a good striker, muay thai practitioner, and ju-jitsu artist, Silva’s better at all three of those things.

Mark Munoz

Munoz was likely one win away from a title shot before being brutally beatdown by the aforementioned Weidman. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a fight with the champ and won’t get one. Munoz came into the Weidman fight looking vastly overconfident and underprepared. He won’t make that mistake with Silva. Munoz can’t match “the Spider” in the standup or submission game, but he has some of the most lethal ground-and-pound in the division. If he can walk through some heavy shots and use his superior wrestling to get  top position he can start his “Donkey Kong” attack. Seeing Silva get out of that would be one hell of a fight.

Jon Jones/Georges St-Pierre

Either match would be a great swansong for Silva. The fight between welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and Silva seems like more a reality right now, if you can believe Dana White. Logistically though, a fight between Silva and light heavyweight title holder Jon Jones makes more sense. GSP has a backlog of challengers to his welterweight throne, while both Silva and Jones are running out of possible matches in their division.

In pure physical sense Silva vs. Jones is a better matchup than Jones vs. St-Pierre. Silva is closer to Jones in body size than he is to GSP; he has fought at light heavyweight and GSP has only ever fought at welterweight. St-Pierre would have to put on quite a bit of weight to make 185 pounds which would make him slower. All Silva has to do to make light heavyweight is cut less weight. As a fan I would love to see Silva fight both GSP and Jones. But if it’s a choice between a catchweight fight with GSP and a title fight at 205 with Jones, I’ll take the title fight.

If Silva vs. Jones came to fruition it could be a classic. Their styles and strengths are very similar with a few exceptions. In a straight kickboxing match it’s impossible to say who would win, they are both such creative, quick, and accurate strikers. In the clinch I think Silva has the clear advantage. Jones main plus is his better wrestling skills. Jones probably wants to be in top position where he’ll hope his offensive ju-jitsu is better than Silva’s defensive ju-jitsu. Jones could use his length and his wrestling skills to score points and keep the fight where he wants it. But Silva is still very quick, and can strike from seemingly anywhere and end a fight in an instant. Of course so can Jones. That’s why this would be an amazing match up.

If Silva ended up fighting St-Pierre instead it would also be a dream matchup. The two best fighters of their generation going against each other? Arguably the two best pound-for-pound fighters of all time? GSP’s clear advantage would be his wrestling. He would have to use his added bulk to wrestle Silva to the ground and work from top position. Unfortunately, the added bulk would likely give Silva a standup advantage. Silva would want to keep it standing, using his kicks to keep his distance from St-Pierre and negate takedown attempts. Silva could also try to clinch when GSP goes for takedowns and utilize his brutal muay thai knees. This could be an incredibly interesting matchup because GSP is a very calculated fighter who comes into each fight with a specific game plan, while Silva seems to let fights go where they go. St-Pierre strategizes his entire fights around his opponent’s weaknesses while Silva waits until he spots an opening to attack. It could be one of the best fights ever. Of course, it could also be a bit a dud (Like the Matt Hughes-Royce Gracie fight).

So the situation isn’t as dire as the MMA community may think. There may be some other middleweights who emerge as serious contenders in the next year or two as well. But if that doesn’t happen and neither does a superfight between Jones or St. Pierre, give another shot to Sonnen. Or let Tim Boetsch have a crack at it. Even if one of those guys get dominated, they’ll make it entertaining.

Jul
26

Washington Sportsjam MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: July 2012 Edition

So, there are no changes this month. If anything with Anderson Silva’s performance at UFC 148 this list solidified it. With Bellator off the big news is that current UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz was unable to get healthy in time for this month’s pay-per-view. Instead, Renan “Barao” Pegado and Urijah Faber fought for an interim title. Barao’s big win over Faber may affect this list in the future.

1. Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champion, Record 30-4)

After an unimaginable 10 straight UFC title defenses, Silva is the undisputed Greatest of All Time. He’s been a dominating run we’ll likely never see again. Chael Sonnen has been his most formidable foe but the Spider has now bested him twice, once in 2010 and once this year at UFC 148. After Sonnen soundly outwrestled him in Round 1, Silva refused to go to the ground in Round 2. Sonnen tried to bait him, Silva hit the wrestler with a huge knee and then quickly TKO’d him. Sonnen made one mistake and paid for it. That’s why Silva’s been such a dominating champion, if an opponent slips up once the fight is over.

Next Fight – TBA

2. Jon Jones (UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Record 16-1)

For the first time as champ, Jones didn’t finish his opponent. Jones was smart to keep challenger Rashad Evans at arm’s length all fight, as he was the most complete fighter he’s faced yet. While it wasn’t the type of exciting fight we’ve been accustomed to from Jones, we did see something new – elbows as jabs! Bones methodically outstruck and outpointed Evans the whole fight and handily avoided all takedowns. Jones doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses in his game and refuses to play to his opponent’s strength. If he keeps that up he’ll be almost unbeatable.

Next Fight – vs Dan Henderson @UFC 151  9/1/12

3. Jose Aldo (UFC Featherweight Champion, Record 21-1)

In the first UFC event of 2012 Aldo defended his belt against one of his toughest opponents yet. Chad “Money” Mendes is the most accomplished wrestler in the division, yet Aldo’s takedown defense never looked better. After shutting down Mendes’ wrestling, Aldo stopped “Money” with a spinning back elbow. Aldo, the brilliant tactician has been present in all three of his UFC fights. Aldo, the exciting finisher and creative striker from the WEC finally showed up again. In three straight title defenses in the UFC he’s been dominant, only dropping three rounds. Like his contemporaries in the bantamweight and middleweight divisions Aldo is running out of challenges at his weight class.

Next Fight – TBA vs Eric Koch

4. Dominick Cruz (UFC Bantamweight Champion, Record 19-1)

The “Dominator” continues to control the bantamweight division. Last July, Cruz avenged his only career loss by outpointing Urijah Faber. In October he held off Demetrious Johnson, the only fighter with more speed at his weight class. Cruz’s critics complain his style is boring, but no one can accuse him of not working. He fights at a breakneck pace. That combined with his odd stand-up movement, his excellent takedowns, and complete ground game makes him a tough nut to crack. He’s also just a few more fights away from cleaning out the division of contenders.

Next Fight – TBA

5. Junior Dos Santos ↑ (UFC Heavyweight Champion Record 15-1)

At UFC 146 in May Junior Dos Santos successfully defended his heavyweight belt by thoroughly dominating Frank Mir. JDS was vastly superior to Mir in the stand-up game and Mir was unable to get the fight to the ground. Dos Santos boxing skills are superior to almost everyone in the division and seems almost impossible to takedown. He looks unbeatable at heavyweight at this point, but that is a division full of surprises.

Next Fight – TBA

Other fighters in consideration: Ben Askren, Carlos Condit, Benson Henderson, Cole Konrad, Gilbert Melendez

Oct
6

The UFC Needs a Minor League – Point/Counterpoint: Part 1

With the recent purchase by Zuffa, LLC (UFC’s corporate owner) of both the WEC and Strikeforce many are wondering what will become of those brands and their fighters. One option is to create a minor league system out of these two organizations. In two articles I am going to explore why the UFC should create a junior promotion and why it shouldn’t. In today’s article we’ll be exploring why they should. Next week, we’ll look at the counter-point.

Here is what I propose – Zuffa should keep the Strikeforce banner and turn it into a minor league with the same seven weight classes as the UFC. Strikeforce does not have men’s featherweight and bantamweight divisions currently, but there are plenty of fighters at those weights who fought in the WEC. The new Strikeforce should be a stepping stone into the big leagues. Young, unproven fighters will have place to prove themselves without being pushed in the deep end right away. Veterans on the downturn can be given a second chance to fight themselves back into contention and give the younger competitors valuable experience. Maybe winning a title and defending it once is an automatic promotion to the UFC. Or it could be as simple as a five fight winning streak. Here a few reasons why a minor league system is necessary.

There a too many talented fighters to simply make large cuts

While the UFC could use some new blood at the heavier weight classes some of the lighter ones are packed already. UFC.com lists 58 welterweight fighters and 54 lightweight contenders. There is no way that all of those challengers can be given a fair shake based on the UFC’s scheduling. Put some of the less-proven and over-the-hill fighters in Strikeforce and let them work their way up to the UFC.

The reasons for getting kicked out of the UFC are too varied and inconsistent

There are three main reasons a fighter will get the boot from the UFC -

1. The Fighter loses three straight fights.

2. Unsportsmanlike conduct.

3. Failed drug tests.

Those are all valid reasons, but UFC President Dana White seems to be the lone decider of who the rule applies to. For example, Dan Hardy has lost four straight fights but does not seem to be in danger of losing his UFC contract. Meanwhile other fighters are cut after just two straight losses.  Paul Daley was banned for life from the UFC for hitting the aforementioned Hardy after their fight had ended. Yet, British star Michael Bisping spit at his defeated opponent Jorge Rivera and was simply fined. He remains one of the UFC’s biggest starts and is even coaching the current season of The Ultimate Fighter. Top ten middleweights Chael Sonnen and Nate Marquardt failed drug tests in similar manners. Marquardt was cut unceremoniously while the UFC was willing to schedule Sonnen’s fight this Saturday in Texas because he couldn’t meet other state’s athletic requirements.

There are obviously other factors at work in the decision to cut someone. How exciting their fights are, how marketable they are, the level of competition they lost to, and their relationship with Dana White and the UFC are all big ones.  In my opinion, that’s putting too much faith in Dana White. Can you imagine if Roger Goodell had the power to cut players from NFL teams?  Instead of relying on subjective judgment the UFC should demote a fighter after three straight losses, an instance of unsportsmanlike conduct, or a failed drug test. The fighter would instantly be assigned to Strikeforce. It would be a clear demotion, but also give the fighter a path back to the UFC if they perform well and keep their act clean.

The Ultimate Fighter is failing

The Ultimate Fighters is the UFC TV reality program which rewards the winner with a fight contract. It started off strong but has not produced a meaningful contender since the fifth season. It turns out fighting a bunch of other inexperienced combatants does not prepare one for the level of competition in the UFC.  A number of former TUF winners have been released from the UFC.

How about instead of rewarding a TUF winner with competition they’re likely not ready for they are awarded a Strikeforce deal instead? They can fight other up-and-comers and UFC demotions and ease into the higher level of opposition.

There is already a TV deal in place for Strikeforce

I’m certainly not the first one to point this out: UFC Should Consider Extending Contract With Showtime, Keep Strikeforce Brand Alive. But, I agree with the argument, the TV deal is in place and Zuffa should use it to extend the Strikeforce brand. You will notice that article points out a number of similar advantages to those previously mentioned.

The UFC is simply getting too large to be contained in one fight promotion. A Triple-A organization solves a myriad of upcoming issues for Zuffa. Next week we’ll be looking at the problems it may cause.