Against Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen’s Fatal Flaw Returns To Haunt Him

In the aftermath of yet another defeat for the ‘Gangster from Portland, Oregon’  one can’t help but notice that throughout his long athletic career he has consistently failed to win the biggest prizes – he never won a NCAA tournament, his best placing in international wrestling competition was a World Championships’ Silver Medal, the bizarre situation surrounding his fights with Paulo Filho denied him WEC gold and as we all know after last night his record against Anderson Silva is now 0-2.

In the aftermath of Silva needing less than three minutes of action on the feet to finish Sonnen there’s going to be a lot of revisionist history that Sonnen was never much of a challenger and that the interest in the fight was purely due to people getting caught up in the hype. While there’s a hint of truth to the charge that Sonnen’s chances of victory were exaggerated, Dana White is surely right when he says that the reason the fight was so eagerly anticipated was not the American’s motormouth but his incredible performance against the champion  at UFC 117. Even now Sonnen still has won more rounds off Silva than all his other UFC opponents combined. While Silva decisively won the fight the fact that Sonnen dominated the vast majority of the twenty-three minutes that preceded Silva’s match-winning triangle choke made many believe that he had the style to defeat a champion who had been barely tested against other opponents.

But as I’ve said before this misread the fight. That was Sonnen’s best day and Silva’s worst and yet still the latter was the one to win. The reason is simple and goes to the heart of why Sonnen will never win the big one in MMA – he doesn’t have the mental strength to successfully implement his gameplan against the very best. Sonnen lacks the punching power to win fights on the ground by TKO – you have to go way back to 2007 to find an opponent that he was able to finish with his fists. And that was on a local circuit show, he’s NEVER won via knockout or TKO on a Zuffa show. And that’s despite competing fourteen times for the organization. Of his eight victories under their umbrella only one of them came before the bell and that was when he submitted someone in Brian Stann who is well known for being out of his element on the ground.

What this all means is that for Sonnen to win any fight he has to take it to the final bell and that unfortunately gives him plenty of time to make the type of mental lapse that has repeatedly seen him snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Its the reason that he has a frankly embarrassing eight submission defeats. He had such a lapse in concentration in the first fight against Silva when after being stunned by a jab while in top position he allowed himself to be trapped in the triangle choke. He did so again last night when after struggling to get the takedown in the second round he panicked and made a ludicrous attempt at a spinning back elbow.  That Silva was able to evade a move he couldn’t have been expecting shows just shows how slow and off-target the attempt was. That it led to Sonnen doing a ‘Brock Lesnar’ and falling flat on his ass was apt. That this set up the match-deciding knee to the mid-section was  typical.

For Chael Sonnen to have defeated Anderson Silva he was going to have to go twenty-five minutes without making such a mistake. That was never going to happen and unfortunately for him you don’t get the chance to make a second mistake against the best fighter the sport has ever seen.

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