Five things we learned from Anderson Silva’s second-round TKO victory over Chael Sonnen in Saturday’s rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena …
1. A slip turned this fight around. The Chael Sonnen-Anderson Silva rematch started a lot like their first fight. Sonnen dominated the first round and was even in a good position for the last minute but couldn’t get a submission in. Things changed in the second: Silva blocked a few tough takedown attempts, Sonnen attempted a spinning kick – and slipped. It was over. Silva pounced, hit him with a killer knee to the body. That did enough damage; Silva didn’t let up, ending it with a TKO in the 1:55 of round two.
2. Silva is in the discussion for the best mixed martial artist ever. Silva’s last win over Sonnen wasn’t a fluke, but he was dominated before winning on the late submission. This time Silva didn’t let it get that far. He had one small opening after Sonnen’s slip and essentially ended it there. He’s defended his title 10 times, a UFC record. The man hasn’t lost since a DQ in 2006 in Japan. He’s nearly unstoppable.
3. Tito Ortiz lost, but went out like a Hall of Famer. It looked like Tito Ortiz might get a KO in his final round. He felled Forrest Griffin early in the third with a killer left hook — “I was lost for a second,” Griffin said — but Griffin rolled through after the punch and came on late in the third round to win a unanimous 29-28 decision in their rubber match.
The crowd booed the decision, but Griffin landed way more strikes — even if Ortiz hit the highlight-reel punches. Ortiz was clearly gassed in the final two minutes of the fight and Griffin probably cemented his victory there even though he wasn’t able to put him away at the end.
4. UFC delivered on the undercard. The UFC promoted this card like the second coming. Chael Sonnen called it “the biggest fight of all time.” Joe Rogan sounded like Gorilla Monsoon plugging the pay-per-view beforehand: “When I tell you that the air here is electric, I am not kidding. This has been the craziest week in Vegas… The weigh-in yesterday was the biggest weigh-in in Nevada combat sports history.”
Counting the preliminary card, the first six fights went the distance. And then things picked up: Chad Mendes countered a Cody McKenzie kick with a killer body shot, ending it in 31 seconds. Then Demian Maia got in a good position on Dong Hyun Kim and broke his rib with a takedown 47 seconds in. Forty-year-old Cung Le getting his first UFC win kept things rolling before the co-main event. The early-arrving crowd was into everything, too, building a great atmosphere.
The most fun extracurricular was after the Griffin-Ortiz fight: Griffin attempted to run to the back immediately after his fight ended, and Dana White chased after him until he was able to drag him back to the ring. There was something for everyone!
5. Sometimes, watching UFC can hurt. The pre-PPV card was an all-decision affair. Fans even chanted “boring.” But there was a little action: John Alessio got kicked below the belt.
Alessio took the worst of quite a few low blows on the night. There was a short delay while he recovered, but Alessio still went the distance, losing by unanimous decision to Shane Roller. That kick had to feel worse, though.
– Dan McQuade