MMA Insider Alex Donno takes a look at a huge announcement this week regarding a rematch for Chael Sonnen against Anderson Silva, tonight’s The Ultimate Fighter and Bellator 62.
Dana White announced Tuesday at the UFC’s Calgary press conference that Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II will take place in a soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event will be UFC 147, and it will take place on either June 16th or June 23rd.
We’ve been waiting nearly two years for the rematch. In August of 2010, Chael P. Sonnen (the P stands for “perfection”) was nearly perfect in a five-round title fight against pound-for-pound kingpin Anderson Silva. For four and a half rounds, he repeatedly took Silva down and even beat him to the punch in most of the striking exchanges. But with less than two minutes to go in the final round, Chael got caught in a Silva triangle choke and was forced to tap out. He was only 1:50 away from the upset of the century, but fell short. It left fans wondering what might have happened if Chael had been a bit less careless down the stretch.
Despite the loss, Sonnen has continually referred to himself as the UFC Middleweight Champion, and has done a brilliant job with an anti-Silva trash talk campaign that would make even Vince McMahon blush. We know how much the average Brazilian fight fan despises Sonnen. Thus, it will be interesting to see what great lengths the UFC must now go to in order to provide him with adequade security for fight week. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see Chael riding around the streets of Rio in a bullet proof Pope bubble.
Sonnen refers to Silva as a chicken, and once made a not-so-subtle comment about patting Silva’s wife on the ass after she cooked him a steak. In case you’re wondering, Chael likes his steak medium rare. Needless to say, Silva is none to happy with Mr. Sonnen. He’s had to endure constant badgering since 2010. He’ll get his chance to shut Chael up this June.
After doing some digging, I’ve confirmed through Brazilian site Tatame.com that UFC 147 will take place at Rio soccer stadium “Engenhao.” According to Wikipedia, it holds 46,931 people. When Dana White made his announcement, he said the fight would take place in front of 80,000 fans. He either plans to pack them in like sardines, or hopefully, he was just grossly exaggerating that figure. Remember, this is the same Dana White who confidently reported that Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez was viewed on television by 80 million people in Brazil. The actual TV ratings figure was around 18 million.
Here’s a look at Engenhao in Rio
And now to the question on everyone’s mind: will Chael be victorious over Silva in the rematch? You won’t find too many people out there who admire Chael more than I do, but even with that in mind, I can’t pick against the champion in this one. In their first matchup, Silva was injured with broken ribs, but fought anyway. It’s safe to assume this injury had him at a weakened state, yet he still pulled off the victory. Sonnen fought brilliantly against a wounded champion, but still couldn’t finish the job. Keep in mind the fact that throughout the four and a half rounds of that battle, Sonnen hit Silva with dozens of unanswered strikes on the ground, but couldn’t earn the finish. He beat Silva with everything but the kitchen sink, yet the champion still had enough energy and awareness to catch him in a late submission. If I’m Chael Sonnen, how worried must I be about the fact that I hit Silva with my best shots for 23 minutes, yet he was still fresh enough to finish me late in the fight. Chances are, Silva won’t be so vulnerable in the second matchup. He’s going to hit Chael harder than Chael can hit him. He’ll likely be better equipped to defend Chael’s takedowns. Will Chael be able to catch lightning in a bottle again? Even if he finds a way to duplicate his previous performance, what makes us think it’ll be enough to bring him victory this time, when he fell short in the first fight. Chael will have to be even better than he was in August of 2010. And this time, he’ll be fighting on Silva’s home turf in Brazil. You can expect Silva to be energized and motivated in a way we’ve never seen him before. For Chael Sonnen, that spells trouble.
Meanwhile, The Ultimate Fighter Live returns Friday for episode number three on FX. Last week’s second episode experienced a slight dip in ratings from the first, with a 1.1 rating (as opposed to 1.3 on the premiere). If they don’t bounce back this week, it’ll be time to start getting worried. Friday’s episode features a tremendous live fight matchup, when Team Cruz number one overall pick Justin Lawrence meet’s Faber’s number 2 pick, Christiano Marcello. Lawrence looked dynamic in his TUF Premiere victory, but at just 4-0, will give up significant experience to the 13-3 Marcello. Marcello is a veteran of the Pride Fighting Championships, with experience fighting all over the world.
Sparks began to fly last week between opposing coaches (and arch rivals) Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz. Team Cruz member James Vick won his fight over Daron Cruickshank of Team Faber. That gave Cruz control to pick the matchup for the following week. Cruz picked his own fighter, Justin Lawrence, but made an unexpected chess move by asking Faber to pick Lawrence’s opponent. Faber was so thrown off, that he literally froze up on live TV. UFC President Dana White seemed equally shocked. After his initial surprise wore off, Faber, clearly unable to choose himself, asked his team “which one of you guys wants it?” Surprisingly, no one stepped up. Cruz stepped in to choose Christiano Marcello, putting an end to a delightfully awkward moment on live TV. I spoke to Cruz this week on Miami’s 790 The Ticket, and we discussed the ordeal at length. He doesn’t pull any punches while discussing his rivalry with Faber.
The fight between Lawrence and Marcello is quite intriguing. As the most experienced fighter in the house, one could argue that Marcello is better equipped than anyone to upset the top overall pick. He’s a crafty Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. If he takes Lawrence down and gets in top control, Lawrence will likely feel like he’s caught in quicksand. Lawrence makes no secret of the fact that he’d prefer to stand and trade with Marcello. “He’s a very good grappler so I really want to try and stay on my feet and make him feel uncomfortable as much as possible,” said Lawrence. Lawrence is a member of Team Blackhouse (the home of Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers). He employs an unconventional Karate style of striking, using swift movement and kicks and punches from awkward angles. Not to make a comparison in terms of skill level, but think of his style as similar to that of Lyoto Machida. If he can defend Marcello’s take downs, this fight should be really fun.
Episode Three of TUF Live begins at 10:00pm EST. Before TUF begins, you can catch two hours of live fights on MTV 2. Bellator 62 takes place Friday night live from Laredo, TX, featuring a heavyweight main event between Eric Prindle and Thiago Santos. Prindle vs. Santos is the rematch of their season 5 Heavyweight Tournament Final fight from November of 2011. That bout ended in a painful kick to the groin from Santos to Prindle. The kick was so hard that Prindle was declared unable to continue. Apparently Santos was attempting to kick Prindle in the thigh, but scored such a straight and direct hit to the junk that it appeared quite intentional. However, the referee ruled the kick accidental and declared the fight a no contest. Hopefully the rematch won’t feature any nut shots. Regardless, it won’t be a long fight. Prindle has brutal knockout power, coming from a boxing and wrestling base. Santos is a black belt in BJJ, who’s earned five of his nine victories by submission.
The remaining four bouts on the main card will be lightweight tournament quarterfinal fights. Pay close attention to Patricky “Pitbull” Freire vs. Lloyd “Cupcake” Woodard. Don’t be fooled by his nickname, Lloyd can scrap. So can Pitbull. Pitbull has pulled off three knockout wins in his four Bellator fights. His flying knee KO of Toby Imada last April was especially explosive. Pitbull will be the favorite, but Woodard can make this interesting with his aggressive style.
Bellator 62 starts at 8pm EST Friday night on MTV 2 and Epix 2.