In Fox’s Halloween episode of Raising Hope, the family at the center of the show discussed how they have trouble winning arguments with words. Perhaps they should enlist the aid of UFC middleweight-turned-instant-light-heavyweight-challenger Chael Sonnen. For Sonnen, it’s all about the words…and in some cases he’ll even create the argument just so he can use words to win it. Take notes, Raising Hope’s Chance family.
In July, Sonnen failed in his second attempt to dethrone long-reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Shortly thereafter, Sonnen’s shift to light heavyweight was announced, with original Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin slated as his opponent.
But, then came the ill-fated UFC 151 card. Sonnen had already taken his shots at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones via Twitter before it was announced that challenger Dan Henderson had to bow out of the UFC 151 headlining affair with Jones. Sonnen was offered the fight and accepted to step in against Jones. Jones balked at the idea.
After defeating Vitor Belfort a few weeks later, Jones was once again in need of an opponent. And eventually, that opponent turned out to be Sonnen, with the two coaching opposite one another on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. And to top it off, Jones’ belt will be on the line.
Sonnen’s mouth is the only reason for his immediate title shot upon reentering a division he hasn’t competed in for years. Sonnen knows how to stir the pot and create hype. Now, he’s managed to use his words to win an argument that didn’t even exist just a couple months ago—the argument of whether Chael Sonnen deserves a title shot.
That talk, and the hype it generated, is more than enough to lift Sonnen to the top of The Gauge rankings for the month of October.
If there’s one fighter who embodies the meaning of The Gauge rankings, it’s Sonnen. Without stepping into the cage, he can generate unparalleled hype. And without compiling wins at 205 pounds, he can still talk his way into a title shot. Nobody knows how to manipulate the collective MMA consciousness quite like Sonnen.
Remember when Michael Jordan ruled the NBA? Jordan, in his prime, was head and shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of his skills. Well, MMA has its Michael Jordan now. Anderson Silva has reached a level of superiority in the Octagon that goes beyond anything any other fighter has ever accomplished. The UFC’s middleweight kingpin stepped into the cage for a light heavyweight encounter at UFC 153 and left his hands down while leaning against the cage, waiting for opponent Stephan Bonnar to actually make him fight. Silva finally put an end to Bonnar’s night with 20 seconds left in the opening frame. The champ’s UFC winning streak is up to 16 fights, and he seemingly chooses when and how his fights will end with very little effort. For Silva, it’s now just a matter of how long he feels like putting on a show.
One of the biggest interview clichés in MMA comes when a fighter says that fans will see the “old him” in the cage. Usually, any return to an older version of the fighter is hardly noticeable. In Demian Maia’s case, however, we are truly seeing a return to his former self. The former middleweight is now competing at 170 pounds, and the aggression and ground game that once earned him a title shot against Anderson Silva are once again evident through his first two fights at welterweight. At UFC 153, Maia moved one step closer to contention in his new weight class with a dominant win over Rick Story.
“Big Nog” is a Pride legend, but in recent years, he’s slipped out of title contention. Many have even written him off as a fighter whose career is coming to a close. But Nogueira isn’t done yet. At UFC 153, he claimed a submission victory over Dave Herman. And just recently, the UFC announced that Nogueira will coach opposite Fabricio Werdum on the second installment of TUF Brazil.
Teixeira continues to prove why the established elite don’t want any part of a fight with him. The light heavyweight demolished Fabio Maldonado at UFC 153 to claim his second victory within the Octagon. Teixeira is now riding a 17-fight winning streak and is poised to be the biggest challenger to Jon Jones light heavyweight crown.
Eddie Alvarez has stood amongst the top lightweights in the world for several years now, but he’s been limited in proving himself under the Bellator banner. But at Bellator 76, Alvarez finished out his current contract with an impressive win over Patricky Freire. Alvarez is now a free agent, and the UFC has expressed interest.
Flyweights might still have a long way to go to convincing casual fans that their speed and technical style are more exciting than watching two heavyweight bruisers go at it, but if there’s someone to lead that charge, it could be John Dodson. The super-hyper 125-pounder took to the Octagon at UFC on FX 5 against Jussier “Formiga” da Silva and earned No. 1 contender status with a second-round TKO finish.
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva needed a win at UFC on FX 5 to turn his fortunes around following back-to-back losses to Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. And the big man delivered, destroying fast-rising prospect Travis Browne in the evening’s headliner and wrecking the Octagon in his post-fight celebration. Silva’s still not back in the contender mix, but with such a high-profile win, fans have definitely taken notice of him once again.
Nobody looked to Stephan Bonnar to win versus Anderson Silva at UFC 153. And Bonnar did what was expected, putting up a fight but succumbing to the superior Silva. But it’s Bonnar’s heart and fighting spirit that made him a legend among fighters. Bonnar recently announced his retirement, but it was fitting that he went out in the spotlight of the Octagon while giving his best effort against one of the all-time greats.
UFC veteran Rich Clementi might have been the one fighter most counted out in Bellator’s season-seven lightweight tournament. Against a group of prospects, Clementi looked the part of a recognizable name for one of the other members of the bracket to add to their resume. Turns out, Clementi was really a spoiler for the biggest of those prospects. At Bellator 77, Clementi squared off with Alexander Sarnavskiy. He exposed plenty of holes in the game of the formerly undefeated Russian. Clementi still needs to defeat another highly-regarded prospect in Marcin Held to advance to the finals, but the victory over Sarnavskiy was an impressive start.
Photo: Chael Sonnen (James Law/Heavy MMA)