When my music hits those speakers on Aug. 7, I will make that walk. - Chael Sonnen
It's been an interesting few years for Chael Sonnen. Once a man mocked on internet forums for his infamous "I didn't tap" submission loss to Paulo Filho, he is now a fan favorite over one of the greatest, if not the greatest fighters of all time, Anderson Silva. Thanks to his burgeoning ability to hype and win fights in a weight class utterly devoid of any characters the likes of a Brock Lesnar, Tito Ortiz, etc, Chael is on the precipice off the biggest fight of his life.
So now the question is "How does he win?" I think most people here know that his best chance of winning is through doing exactly what he did to Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, and Nate Marquardt - dominate with wrestling. Chael even admits it himself:
"As soon as Anderson tries to punch me, I'm going to stick my forehead in his chest, run him against the fence, pick him up, put him on the canvas and that's the end of that round. As soon as Anderson tries to kick me, I'm going to stick my forehead in his chest, run him into that fence, put him on the ground, that's the end of that round."
"I am five strike attempts by him away from being the UFC champion."
Chael is definitely trash talking, but he's not bluffing. Travis Lutter, Rich Franklin, Thales Leites, Dan Henderson, etc have all taken Anderson down, so I have no doubt that he will be able to take Anderson Silva down.
The only question is what will Sonnen proceed to do once he gets the fight there. Against Miller, Okami, and Marquardt his strategy was to use his wrestling to smother them and do ground-and-pound when he could. And it worked. In fact, it works in almost every fight he is in where he can exploit his opponents lack of submission skills off their backs.
But what happens when he fights someone who is good off of their back? Let's take a look at his loss record for the past seven years:
Loss Demian Maia Submission (Triangle Choke) UFC 95 - Sanchez vs. Stevenson 2/21/2009 1 2:37
Loss Jeremy Horn Submission (Armbar) UFC 60 - Hughes vs. Gracie 5/27/2006 2 1:17
Loss Renato Sobral Submission (Triangle Choke) UFC 55 - Fury 10/7/2005 2 1:20
Loss Jeremy Horn Submission (Guillotine Choke) SF 6 - Battleground in Reno 9/23/2004 2 2:35
Loss Forrest Griffin Submission (Triangle Choke) IFC - Global Domination 9/6/2003 1 2:25
Even if Sonnen is getting immediate takedowns a la GSP vs Hardy, what are the chances that Sonnen can play in Anderson Silva's guard for five rounds without getting submitted or cut open by elbows? We saw how close Marquardt came to finishing the fight via a cut and he is vastly lacking compared Anderson's striking and BJJ skills.
People keep talking about how the guy to beat Anderson has got to be a guy with a good takedowns and ground, but history has proven otherwise. He has fought numerous versions of ground guys and every time we are sold a bill of goods as if this new one is somehow going to be a tougher challenge, when in fact the results are the same. What we have yet to see is Anderson Silva against a good counter-striker, which is why the Vitor Belfort match is so intriguing. Hopefully we will get to see that some time this year.
Until then we will just have to wait and see if Chael can pull off what would no doubt be one of the biggest upsets of all time. Personally I think Chael has about a %10 chance of winning this fight. What do you think?