August 7, 2010. Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA. During an Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title bout, Chael Sonnen dominated an Anderson Silva who was coming off 7 title defenses and 12 consecutive wins. Chael was already a great villian with a big mouth. But Anderson’s most recent fight included him going the distance against an outmatched opponent and him acting disrespectfully along the way. Heading into this UFC 117 middleweight fight Silva was regarded, arguably, as the greatest pound for pound Mixed Martial Artist in the world.
Everyone is Beatable
On this night Chael Sonnen stepped into the Octagon vs. Anderson Silva as another underdog in a long line of Silva opponents. Sonnen was certainly one of most qualified fighters pitted versus Silva. But Silva had so dominated opponents during his career he had become regarded by many as unbeatable. The last time he tallied a loss it wasn’t even because his opponent defeated him. It was ruled a loss because he was disqualified for an illegal kick (that he claims he misunderstood because of the language barrier in Japan).
In his previous 11 fights Silva’s opponents had only landed 208 strikes. In just 23 minutes, Chael Sonnen opened the world’s eyes by landing more blows as all of Anderson Silva’s combined 11 previous opponents.
Chael Sonnen showed the world that even someone as highly regarded as Silva, even thought nearly invincible by some, was very much beatable. Chael studied, prepared, and practiced relentlessly to be fully prepared to take down the middleweight champ.
What’s ironic about this point is that Chael did end up losing, which brings us too…
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Chael Sonnen absolutely dominated Anderson Silva in UFC 117. Sonnen was outlanding Silva 289-29 when he got submitted with 2 minutes to go. Not only had Anderson not lost in 4 years, but he had only lost a handful of rounds in his entire UFC career! The judges scorecards showed Chael winning every round, until he, repeatedly, gave an opening for Anderson to take advantage of.
While Sonnen’s wrestling and ground and pound dominated Silva, he still left a sliver of an opening. While delivering repeated strong strikes on the ground, Chael was opening himself up to get wrapped up in Anderson’s legs.
Be Prepared Out of Season
Anderson Silva was clearly taken by surprise. He was somewhat boring in his recent fights and may have not walked into this one taking it seriously either. He was certainly going to lose this fight, maybe all 5 rounds had he not pulled out a triangle armbar with under 2 minutes to go.
Had he not pulled out the last second win it would have gone down as an incredible defeat. He could have been better prepared for Chael’s wrestling and ground-and-pound. And he almost paid dearly for it. I’m curious to see the difference in preparation for his UFC 148 rematch.
Over-Specialized to the Point of Weakness
Chael Sonnen was so incredibly prepared for this fight. His wrestling and takedowns of Silva were nearly indefensible. He took this advantage to land an enormous amount of strikes. BUT his wrestling specialization was so concentrated Anderson won the fight by taking advantage of one exposed weakness. Anderson’s fight-winning triangle arm wasn’t even in the greatest form. It’s shocking to me he was even able to sink it in considering how tired, slick and sweaty they were. But Chael’s point of weakness afforded Anderson the door to the victory.
When I was 19, my speaking mentor told me, “Some people spend so much time being good at everything they’re good at nothing.” But this fight made me realize that you can be so good, so absolutely dominant in an area that you expose yourself elsewhere. In life, sports, business and leadership I think there are a lot of people that concentrate so much on one specialty they are not well-rounded enough to carry themselves to an overall victory.
Conclusion-Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen
Looking at Chael Sonnen’s record, of 11 professional MMA defeats 8 of them were via a jiu-jitsu submission.
I think UFC 117 provided an incredible opportunity for him to claim the middleweight belt from one of the sports all-time greats while he was in the middle of his prime. If he had sharpened himself with greater brazilian jiu-jitsu defense he would have handily won the fight. Chael Sonnen will get another title shot this weekend versus Anderson Silva at UFC 148.