I am a long-time lurker of BE and other MMA sites and have never posted before. Signed up just because I find it staggering to have not seen anyone say what I have become more and more certain of, and I am now in need of someone, anyone to verify my sanity: Anderson played possum with Chael in the first fight because he wanted to submit him, and now having proven that point will beat the hell out of Chael on the feet this time.
- During the lead up to the first fight Chael talked a LOT of shit. It was epic and highly entertaining. However the word was that none of it bothered Anderson except ONE comment: Chael's joke about the jiu-jitsu black belt from the Nogeira's = happy meal toy. Widespread speculation before the fight (not just on the internet but in official UFC hype for the fight) was that this was the only comment Chael made that got under Anderson's skin and actually angered him.
- I didn't think too much of that until I saw the following: In the 'Like Water' documentary, there is footage of a conversation between Anderson and one of the Nogeira's (I forget which), where Anderson insists that he is going to submit Chael. Big/Little Nog says "no, you'll knock him out because you are Anderson Silva". Anderson insists again "no, I am going to submit him" (I'm paraphrasing but you get the gist). The two embraced and it seemed to me (watching with the benefit of hindsight of course) like a pretty serious thing.
- On the night of the fight Anderson walks out to the octagon in his gi (with Nogeira-bestowed jiu-jitsu black belt of course). To my recollection that was the first and last time he did this. Furthermore at the end of the fight, after holding his black belt aloft with the UFC Middleweight Championship belt, he makes Joe Rogan, Ed Soares and all of us watching wait for the post-fight interview while he PUTS THE GI BACK ON. Not just the jacket for the sponsors: Pants, jacket and that Nogeira jiu-jitsu black belt that Chael had mocked.
- The fight itself: this is a bit more contentious, not so much evidence as my opinion. At the time, watching the fight live, I was too pumped up and shocked at Chael continually knocking Anderson down to consider this possibility, but re-watching the fight, and considering it with the other evidence, I submit to you that Anderson was letting Chael land shots and went down very, very easily. (I think he may also have been giving up the takedowns easily too, but Chael is a great wrestler so that is harder to say). Why? Because he was determined to submit Chael, and realistically the only way to do this against a dominant wrestler was off his back.
This seems a ridiculously risky strategy from Anderson - leaving his chin hanging out and letting the number 1 contender land big shots and control him from the top in the hope of landing a submission from the bottom. But certainly if there is one thing Anderson knew about Chael before that first fight it is that he is a sucker for a submission (and triangles in particular), and honestly is Anderson adopting that strategy really less likely than Chael Sonnen - who just barely squeaked out a decision against Michael Bisping in January - outstriking the greatest striker in the history of MMA?
I see Anderson vs Chael II looking a lot more like Anderson vs Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort or (please no Anderson!!) Demian Maia than the first fight between them. The X factor is Chael's takedowns of course, but I see Anderson having the speed, footwork and knees to nullify, or at least reduce, these...
Finally: haven't heard any mention of Chael's proclamation he would leave the UFC "FOREVER" if defeated for a while. I wonder why....