Note this is my personal opinion and does not reflect that of the Bloody Elbow staff or SBNation.com. In fact I didn't even write it.
Normally I would be wringing my hands and decrying the fact that Chael Sonnen apparently quick tapped and attempted to break the hold and deny that he tapped against Anderson Silva at UFC 117. I would be saying it's a shame that something that unsportsmanlike should mar the conclusion of such a great night of fights.
Not this time, not with these two fighters. First off, Anderson Silva knows of Team Quest's reputation for quick tapping and claiming not to. Instead of relaxing when Sonnen tapped, Silva attacked, grabbing more of Sonnen's limbs and torqueing his holds.
Ariel Helwani is saying that since Chael hasn't complained about the tap post-fight, it wasn't a deliberate quick-tap. Helwani is missing the point of the quick tap attempt -- it's about getting the other guy to let go, hoping the ref missed the tap and going on with the fight. Matt Lindland successfully did it to Murilo Bustamante at UFC 37 and thanks to Big John McCarthy's worst ever call, the fight was restarted standing when Bustamante had just forced a tap via armbar. Fortunately for history and fate, Bustamante went on to submit Lindland later in the fight.
With a fight as great as UFC 117, Sonnen's crass awfulness just adds to the drama. Chael established before the fight that he'd say anything and lie about it later. His teammates at Team Quest, particularly coach Matt Lindland established during their Olympic careers -- Matt Lindland had to file a law suit to get through the Olympic trial process where he went on to win his silver metal -- that they'd do what it takes to win.
Lindland is the guy who made a documentary claiming the UFC was afraid to let him compete with their champs because of "politics". But Lindland is also the guy wrote one of the best MMA technical manuals ever written. It's called "Dirty Boxing" but really ought to be called "How to Beat Anderson Silva or Anyone Like Him". The world will have to wait for "How to Cheat Like Team Quest" but I'm sure that will be well worth the wait as well.
It's no coincidence that both Sonnen and Lindland are politicians from the country that is known for its do anything, say anything approach to campaigns and governing.
But Sonnen's performance was so legendary in nearly upsetting Anderson Silva, beating him not just on the ground, but on the feet until the final, fatal minutes. He outstruck Silva standing. He took him down at will. He reversed him.
Then at the end of the fight, he left his arm in and gave a way a triangle. Sadly for Sonnen, this is also a pattern that has dogged him throughout his career. His coach Matt Lindland has commented on the record about Sonnen "looking for ways to lose" in past fights. Did Sonnen do it again?
More after the jump.
Did I imagine that Lindland's command between rounds "do NOT lose this fight" after the fourth round had a note of panic. As if he were trying to ward off Sonnen's mental demons that have plagued his career. But he was unsuccessful and Anderson Silva is still champion.
It doesn't matter to me what kind of stunts Chael pulled in his efforts to promote the fight. In a sport where men habitually take PEDs and allegedly grease up before and definitely during fights to get an illegal advantage. I don't think quick tapping is the worst sin in the world and I don't think anything said in the name of successfully smack talking this fight into a hit -- based on our traffic across the SBN network, this is a huge hit event for the UFC -- is a bad thing.
Chael Sonnen is today's hero for MMA's cause.
Anderson Silva is a great champion, but Chael Sonnen is a great fighter and a great carnie. It takes two to tango and history should remember those who come so close and fail to make the peak -- no matter what they did to climb so high -- as well as those who come from behind to triumph.
Here's to Chael Sonnen and Matt Lindland, sometimes you fight a great fight and still look like a heel. If Sonnen had won, even using the quick tap, the magnitude of the upset would have overshadowed the controversy about methods.