Original: We see it as our guide to make sure you're up to date around the water cooler, so we're going to give you a quick layman's guide to Saturday's big UFC main event between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen so you sound like you know what you're talking about Monday morning.
Isn't the UFC a Fringe Sport?
No, it's not. Let's face it: boxing is dead. And we say that as a fan of the sport for more than ten years. The sport's official name is Mixed Martial Arts, but the UFC is the biggest promotion in the world, and MMA doesn't suffer from having six different champions like boxing does.
The UFC has has picked itself up from obscurity. The sport is legal in almost every state, even in Arizona, the home of John McCain who famously called the UFC "human cockfighting" back when it basically was. The rules have become more civil since then, and the sport's gaining more and more coverage on mainstream sports networks.
Plus, they just signed a long term, big money deal with Fox to air their fights. The broadcasts feature the same Fox Sports music and broadcast style you'd see on NFL broadcasts. Tonight's event is a pay-per-view, though, so it'll be done in the UFC house style. When was the last time boxing had a worthy card on broadcast television? (The answer: like a million years ago.)
Okay. Who Is Fighting and Over What?
Anderson Silva, a fighter from Brazil, is fighting Oregon's Chael Sonnen for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Silva's the current champ. This is the biggest pay-per-view the company's had since signing with Fox, and the most anticipated because of the history between the two fighters. Now I'm going to break from your questions and explain both guys.
Anderson Silva Is The Best Fighter in the UFC, Maybe the World
It's true. There's no one with more athletic ability and more technical skill in the world than Anderson Silva. He's undefeated in the UFC and holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in any weight class. If you need more proof, I direct you to his amazing front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort, a move he said he learned from Steven Seagal. (Yes, that Steven Seagal.) Cut to about 12:24 to see the whole fight, or go to about 15:12 if you just want to see the kick:
You could also look at his amazing knockout of Forrest Griffin, who's also fighting on tonight's pay-per-view. Silva knocked him out with right hand jab while walking backwards and avoiding Griffin's punches. It defies all logic. This video has the highlight, and then hilariously pairs it with the "Mmm, Whatcha Say?" song from The O.C.
He's largely looked unstoppable in his fights. His biggest criticism has been that he lets lesser fighters hang around with him instead of using his superior speed and ability to quickly finish guys. The only person to make him even look human was Sonnen.
Chael Sonnen Is the Like an Old School Wrestling Bad Guy
Sonnen isn't the flashiest fighter. He's an All American wrestler from the University of Oregon that served as an Olympic team alternate. He's a worthy foe to Silva though because he dominated their first fight. He hurt Silva multiple times during the first four rounds, and used his wrestling to control Silva on the ground and beat him. He couldn't put him away though, and he got caught in a Triangle Choke and tapped out with lass than two minutes left in the fifth and final round.
But we love Chael, and will be pulling for him Saturday night, because he talks like an old wrestling bad guy. He routinely refers to the Middleweight title as "12 pounds of gold" like he's in the old N.W.A wrestling Harley Race in a cage match in Greensboro, North Carolina. After his last fight, he challenged Silva to a rematch and said if Silva won he'd leave the UFC forever, but if he won than Silva had to retire. (Video can be hard to come by because the UFC is a stickler with their video.) It was like challenging him to a "loser leaves town" match. If you used to be a wrestling fan in the glory days of guys like Dusty Rhodes, you're going to love Sonnen. (We'd offer our kingdom for a picture of Sonnen with Ric Flair.)
The fight should be amazing. Silva actually seems motivated against Sonnen. He gave Sonnen a shoulder tap to the face during the weigh-ins, and earlier this week during a staredown at a press conference the two had to be separated and Silva whispered something in his ear as the two were being pulled apart. He's denies saying anything, but he clearly whispers something to him as they're being pulled apart.
Update: The rematch began much like the first fight, with Sonnen coming out and scoring a double leg takedown. Sonnen spent most of the round fighting for position on top of Silva and landing small punches. When the round ended, Sonnen had gained full mount (when you are fully on top of your opponent's stomach) but failed to do anything substantial with it. Silva was able to stop Sonnen's attempts to take him down in the second. When Sonnen made a wild attempt at a spinning back fist (doing a turn and attempting to whack your opponent in the head as you come around) he missed and fell to the ground. With Sonnen sitting on his butt against the fence, Silva threw a questionable knee to Chael's chest (it looked like it was poised to hit in the jaw, which would have been illegal) and followed it up with a few punches. The fight was stopped at 1:55 of the second round. Anderson Silva retained his Middleweight title.