LOS ANGELES – Anderson Silva is the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s version of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the perfect mixed martial artist whose unbeaten run as middleweight champion since 2006 is testimony to the variety of his skills in the octagon.
In winning 15 consecutive fights, Silva (29-4) has delivered a defining kung fu kick to the jaw to defeat Vitor Belfort, withstood the best wrestling effort of Dan Henderson to win a submission, ripped former champion Rich Franklin twice with fight-ending knees and knocked out another ex-champion, Forrest Griffin.
Tonight is Silva’s greatest test, his rematch at MGM Grand in Las Vegas with brash challenger Chael Sonnen, who dominated Silva for four rounds in August 2010 in Oakland, Calif., before Silva pulled off a brilliant fifth-round submission by triangle armbar.
“I didn’t train that well for that fight,” Silva said this week. “I had a lot of problems in training with two badly bruised ribs. The doctor recommended the fight not go on. But I was like, ‘The show must go on.’
“Even with everything wrong that night, he still couldn’t beat me.”
Meanwhile, Sonnen (28-11-1) has ridiculed those in Silva’s home country of Brazil, made a disparaging remark about the champion’s wife and declared Silva is a “phony” who often handpicks softer opponents.
Sonnen vowed to five full rounds today, duplicating the best moments of his 2010 bout against Silva, when he repeatedly took down the champion, beat him in striking positions and outwrestled him before ending up in the tough fifth-round spot.