An Empty Division Once Again (UFC 148 Review)

The UFC has had a tradition of long reigning champions with Tito Ortiz, Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, and Anderson Silva. Throughout the years that these men stood atop their divisions they have been able to empty out the division. The most recent of these fighters are Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva who have both dominated their divisions beating every challenger that has come their way. For Anderson Silva this has been the story of his legendary UFC career as he has essentially left no challengers in the Middleweight division. That was until Chael Sonnen made a meteoric rise in the division. Chael Sonnen came into the division and made an impression beating some of the biggest names in the division. Because of this rise Sonnen moved to the #1 contender spot in the division and would take on Silva as one of the last people who could challenge the championship. In their August 2010 fight Sonnen was able to dominate Silva in what seemed like it would be Silva’s first loss. Then in the last round Silva was able to sink in a triangle choke that ended the fight and continued Silva’s reign as champion. Since that fight Chael Sonnen has been one of the most vocal fighters in the UFC claiming that he was the true champion and that he really did beat Silva. Sonnen continued to talk and demanded a rematch so that he could prove that he was the real champion. This rematch happened at UFC 148 as Sonnen would face Silva for the second time to determine who the best middleweight fighter is in the UFC. The rematch was one of the most hyped fights in the UFC in years as both fighters did their share of talking before the fight. It was an unusual build up for Silva who rarely talks trash before a fight but Chael Sonnen had seemingly gotten under his skin. Nobody had seen Silva so angry before and so going into the fight there was a lot of uncertainty. Would Silva be too shaken by the trash talk or would he be fueled by the trash talk? Sonnen did not have this uncertainty as he would come in almost exactly like he did in their first fight where he took Silva down and used his ground and pound. The one difference Sonnen would come in with is the knowledge that Silva can submit anyone at any moment. The hate between these two fighters was evident in the days leading up to the fight as the press conference was very heated and the weigh-in saw Silva shoulder check Sonnen when they faced off. The hate remained as both fighters entered the octagon with both of them forgoing the traditional pre-fight handshake. The first round was almost a replay of the first fight as Sonnen immediately went for the takedown and got on top of the champion. In the guard Sonnen was able to do enough to stay on the ground while Silva seemed helpless to defend. After round 1 many though that the fight would again be Sonnen’s to lose. The second round was different though as Sonnen could not get the takedown instead pressing Silva against the fence. As Silva escaped he landed his first effective strikes even though he was grabbing the shorts of Sonnen. Trying to get back to it Sonnen attempted another takedown but couldn’t get it and then threw a spinning back fist. The strike didn’t land and sent Sonnen to the mat where Silva pounced. With Sonnen against the fence Silva landed a great knee that came close to the head but was in the chest which hurt Sonnen. The challenger stood up but it seemed he was close to finished and Silva made sure of hit throwing some good punches. He landed big with an uppercut sending Sonnen down where Silva continued to throw and forced the referee to end the fight. Anderson Silva took the win and remained the champion while essentially eliminating his last true test. Silva may take a break from the middleweight division until they can find an opponent as he may fight another match in the Light Heavyweight Division. Sonnen will move back into the rest of the division where he will likely be the top fighter without a belt.

In the co-main event fight fans saw the end of an era in the UFC when Tito Ortiz took on Forrest Griffin in what would be Ortiz’s last fight. Ortiz is a member of the old boys club who helped build the sport when there was a fraction of the fans there are now. He was rewarded for this before the fight as he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame joining members of the hall like Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. He would finish his UFC career with the end of a trilogy that has made some great fights. Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz had fought twice before with Ortiz taking a split decision in their first fight and Griffin earning a split decision in their second fight. They would face off for the third time to end the debate as to who the better fighter was with both hoping to end the fight early so that they would not lose on another split decision. The fight saw Ortiz work his legendary ground and pound but it was not enough for Ortiz. Griffin was clearly the faster fighter throwing more punches and moving better than Ortiz. Both fighters did not look great in the octagon as they seemed to be much slower than they used to be. Both fighters looked like they were at the tail-ends of their careers which for Ortiz was true but for Griffin may not bode well for the future. Still Griffin was able to take the win spoiling Ortiz’s retirement fight and will likely only have a few more fights left until he joins Ortiz in retirement.

The bonuses for the night had limited options with only three fighters earning the $75,000 bonus for their efforts. With no submissions on the night there was no “Submission of the Night” bonus handed out and many of the other fights were not good enough to warrant a second bonus in a category. There were a few options for the “Knockout of the Night” but the money went to the champion as Anderson Silva for his TKO win over Chael Sonnen in the main event. The “Fight of the Night” went to the Co-Main Event as Tito Ortiz got a great send off with Forrest Griffin also taking home the bonus for his win. The fight card was a little disappointing overall and the most hyped fight of the year was nothing close to the hype they put on it, although nothing could come close to it, but it was a good fight. Now with Anderson Silva again on top there is no doubt that he is one of the best fighters in UFC history and will continue to be there until someone can unseat him.

 

Fight Results

Main Event:

Anderson “The Spider” Silva def. Chael Sonnen [Middleweight Title]

(TKO, Rd. 2)

 

Main Card:

Forrest Griffin def. Tito “The People’s Champ” Ortiz

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Cung Le def. Patrick “The Predator” Cote

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Demian Maia def. Dong “Stun Gun” Hyun Kim

(TKO, Rd. 1)

 

Chad “Money” Mendes def. Cody McKenzie

(TKO, Rd. 1)

 

Mike “The Hulk” Easton def. Ivan Menjivar

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Undercard:

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard def. Fabricio “Morango” Camoes

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov def. Gleison Tibau

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Constantinos “Costa” Philippou def. Riki Fukuda

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Shane Roller def. John “The Natural” Alessio

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Rafaello “Tractor” Oliveira def. Yoislandy “Cuba” Izquierdo

(Unanimous Decision)

 

Upcoming Events:

UFC on Fuel TV 4: Munoz vs. Weidman (Wednesday July 11th; 8:00 pm ET)

– Free Live on Fuel TV/Sportsnet

– San Jose, California (HP Pavilion)

Main Event: Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz vs. Chris “The All-American” Weidman

Notable: James Te Huna vs. Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran

 

UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao (Saturday July 21st; 10:00 pm ET)

– Calgary, Alberta (Scotiabank Saddledome)

Main Event: Urijah “The California Kid” Faber vs. Renan Barao [Interim Bantamweight Title]

Notable: Hector Lombard vs. Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch

Notable: Chris “The Menace” Clements vs. Matthew Riddle

 

UFC on Fox 4: Rua vs. Vera (Saturday August 4th; 8:00 pm ET)

– Free Live on Fox/Sportsnet

– Los Angeles, California (Staples Centre)

Main Event: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Brandon “The Truth” Vera

Notable: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader

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