The best fights are always the most personal. The best fights are always the most important.
" – of the Night" awards usually go to the frenzied fights. The ones where Pickett and Page spaz out for a few minutes, or Hominick and Yagin bash their fists and foreheads together. We scream our lungs out for action-action-action like quantity is what matters. Like more movement means a better fight.
There are hardly any fights like Silva-Sonnen II. I don't mean that as a credit to Sonnen's promotion. That's there, of course, but when you cut this fight to its core, it's a proving of philosophies. Chael has one chance to win, and he needs to use the full 25 minutes for it. Anderson has 25 minutes' worth of chances, and he only needs to take one. I like to imagine that's why Chael looks so miserable and Anderson looks so buoyant – they both know that if Chael charges out and has his best round, it means nothing until he cranks out four more flawless rounds.
And Anderson lost. He lost as badly as he could possibly lose. Chael did everything he wanted, and Anderson did nothing he wanted. It was the perfect round for Chael. Anderson got up and jogged cheerfully to his corner.
One round Chael, one round Anderson. This is what happens when Chael takes a round. This is what happens when Anderson takes a round.
The game is over. When Anderson wins, he doesn't win because of a hammered-in rule or official announcement. He just wins, in the simplest terms you could imagine. There is no 25 minutes. There is no fighter-on-top-scores-a-point stay-busy-or-stand-up full-mount-is-a-dominant-position win by rules-as-agreed-to-beforehand. He just wins.
This is when a fight exceeds itself, and all its enormous expectations. When the clanging of bone on bone becomes something elemental. This fight is not just a fight. This is violence over sport. This is the apotheosis of martial arts tested against a sportsman's best play.
But if you strip away everything about these two that makes them special, all the belts and all the lights, and Anderson Silva is not Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen is not Chael Sonnen, if they are not the greatest and the greatest antagonist, then you can still have a fight that means more than a fight. But it's never going to be as good, no matter how much Fighter A and Fighter B hit each other and bleed and fall.
You can't say the first round was action-packed, exactly, and you can't say it wasn't thrilling. The entire fight wasn't half as wild as, let's say, Jung and Poirier. But this was unquestionably the better fight, because Jung and Poirier don't matter. They don't matter like Anderson and Chael matter, and they can fight their hearts out, they can put on the wildest pace and the most knockdowns and most punches per minute of any fight in combat sports history, the unlikeliest upset, the oddly endearing niche hero, they can gush blood and wage war and they'll never, never come close to Silva and Sonnen.
For me. Because the best fights are always the most personal. The best fights are always the most important.