To set the scene, it’s August 7, 2010 and UFC middleweights Anderson Silva/Chael Sonnen are in the midst of delivering an engaging bout that has seen Sonnen secure numerous takedowns while delivering the brunt of the damage to Silva via dominant top position strikes.
At the two minute mark in the fifth and final round, Silva begins working for a Triangle Choke/Armbar on Sonnen. Sonnen is prepared enough to evade the attempts, peppering him with more strikes. Sonnen slips free, while Silva uses the opportunity to get back to a standing position. Sonnen takes “The Spider” down once more as the bell sounds the end of the match, preparing for the inevitable moment when his hand raised in the Octagon following the judge’s decision and he’s named divisional champ.
Of course fans know that’s not how it went down. Even if it had, we all know that Sonnen, who did seem on point that night, ran into issues with testosterone use following the fight and was suspended. That being said, when it comes to this “what if” it has to be assumed, A.) Sonnen won a decision victory and B.) Sonnen did not enter the fight with an elevated testosterone level or fail to disclose his TRT to the California State Athletic Commission. Taking those things into consideration, how would a win for Sonnen have changed the sport of MMA as a whole?
Would Sonnen be more intolerable had he defeated Silva? I don’t think so. Sonnen’s ability to spew compelling trash-talk before his fights is merely to amplify whatever fan excitement is already there. It’s a tool to hype the fight, and thereby doesn’t mean much to those of us with mental faculties firmly rooted in reality.
Sonnen could have been crowned champion but would’ve fallen far short of the dominance that has been exhibited by Silva. Meaning, he would’ve had the belt but, being far from unbeatable, would have likely fallen to another opponent sooner rather than later, perhaps Silva himself in the eventual rematch.
Likewise, would losing to Sonnen tarnish Silva’s legacy? As alluded to earlier, it may have hurt his reputation but not to the point that Silva wouldn’t have been able come back and likely recapture the championship with a follow up win against Sonnen.
Then again, I have to wonder at that stage in Silva’s career how might he have rebounded from that loss mentally. Silva had also been purportedly tossing around the idea of retirement around his 35th birthday, the same year this first fight with Sonnen took place. Coincidentally, Silva’s UFC contract was expiring at the same time as well.
Also, would Dana White and company have lured him back in to avenge his loss or would the humble Brazilian be content to hang his gloves up rather than to risk the losing skid that some uber-dominant fighters suffer from after major losses? Luckily, since Silva was able to tap Sonnen we’ll never know what the mind of what some call “the best mixed martial artist of all time” would’ve decided to do what if…
What do you think? Let me know in the Comments section below…
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC