By Leif Stuart-Smith
Instant title rematches have become something of a trend in 2010. In the cases of Lyoto Machida versus Maurico “Shogun” Rua and BJ Penn versus Frankie Edgar there was at least a somewhat plausible explanation for rematches. However, in the case of Anderson Silva versus Chael Sonnen, I just don’t understand how Sonnen deserves an instant rematch.
When Machida edged out Shogun in a razor close five round decision last October, a majority of the MMA community stood up in protest. Even UFC president and the face of MMA in America ripped the judges in the post-fight press conference and immediately announced a rematch. So when Shogun knocked out Machida in the first round of their May rematch, many felt vindicated that the better fighter finally had the belt that he deserved.
When Frankie Edgar edged out BJ Penn last April in Abu Dhabi, there wasn’t nearly the outcry as there was following the first bout between Machida and Rua. Nevertheless, it was still a very close decision. Also, most fans would agree that the Penn that fought in Abu Dhabi was not the same one that ran through top contenders Kenny Florian and the Nightmare Diego Sanchez is in previous two title defenses. Rumors of various injuries and ailments that afflicted BJ on fight night immediately surfaced. I even heard one rumor that Penn wanted to pull out of the fight, but Dana promised him an instant rematch because White didn’t want to disappoint their new investors in Abu Dhabi. So when the rematch was announced I wasn’t surprised. What was surprising was that Frankie beat BJ even more convincingly the second time around.
However, when it was announced that Chael Sonnen would receive an instant rematch for Anderson Silva’s middleweight title, I was shocked and disappointed. Here is a guy that didn’t lose a controversial, or even a close, decision. He lost decisively via triangle choke in the fifth round. Yes, he controlled a majority of the fight up till that point, yet in the end he was still finished. And not to blow my own horn, but he the fight ended in the exact fashion I predicted when the fight was originally announced. Granted, I thought Silva would win a lot sooner, but how was I supposed to know he was coming in with injured ribs. Further stupefying is the fact that Sonnen’s UFC record now stands a very pedestrian 4-4.
It’s not like there aren’t interesting matchups for Anderson Silva left in the MW division. First you have Vitor Belfort who was supposed to fight Silva at UFC 112 before pulling out due to injury. Vitor is the one guy who might be able to match Silva’s striking in both speed and technique. Then you have Yushin Okami who is the last man to beat the Spider; albeit by disqualification. While he isn’t the wrestler that Sonnen is, he still has the ability to get the fight to ground. Once there he actually has the submission game to finish the fight. Another potentially exciting fight would be a matchup against former Chutebox sparring partner Wanderlei Silva.
I really hope this is last instant rematch we see for a while, because the UFC is starting to look like the WWE where you have the same 2-3 guys fighting for the title every week. Not only is it tedious to see the same fight over again, but it also makes the rest of the division look weaker. So Joe Silva, Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita, etc. please stop granting instant rematches.