Chael Sonnen (top) file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Embattled middleweight champion Anderson Silva, chided for his recent antics inside the cage, will defend his crown against the mouthy Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 on Saturday when they square off at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
Sonnen has barked at the champion relentlessly, attacking his character, his team and everything else under the sun in a clear attempt to hype their fight. Silva, on the other hand, has said almost nothing in response.
Sherdog.com caught up with dozens of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the battle between the world’s top two heavyweights:
Cristiano Marcello: I believe in an easy victory of Anderson if he fights seriously. I see a knockout in the first round, even though his opponent has apparently trained a lot on his mouth.
John Hackleman: Oh shoot, that’s a tough one, man. It’s going to be a draw, but I’ll say something so I can go onto Sherdog. I love both guys, and I think they’re both friggin’ unbelievable. It depends on what Anderson shows up and also what Chael shows up because, to me, they are both superstar athletes and the best at what they do. And what they do is very different, yet very effective. I don’t like to use these words because they are Randy Couture’s phrase, but whoever imposes his will wins the fight. I think they are both super talented at what they do, so I think it’ll be a pretty exciting darn fight. And you can use the word “darn,” too, so I sound like a redneck.
Junior dos Santos: I think Anderson wins the fight, for sure. I think he is a much better fighter and has many more skills than Sonnen. But the fight is a fight, and we have to pay attention all the time. I expect Anderson to do that and have a great performance. I hope he shows how hard he’s worked with a spectacular fight. I think he’ll show Sonnen that he talked too much. You can say what you want, but inside the Octagon, things are different.
Gabe Ruediger: This fight has been built up great by Chael. He has played the heel perfect and, on top of that, will bring the fight. I’ve known both guys for years and it makes it hard to make a decision, but if I put zero bias into it, I’m going with Anderson. Chael will come to fight and get the fight to the ground. This will make the fight interesting and should stop the Anderson hate, because that’s what needs to happen for Anderson to unleash. Will Chael be able to take Anderson down for five rounds? I just don’t see him being able to without taking punishment or getting submitted. This is actually a match that I really want to see.
Rafael dos Anjos: I hope that Anderson wins this fight. I think he will, and he won’t let it get to the fifth round. He will end this fight before then.
Elvis Sinosic: This is a tough fight to call. It all depends on which Anderson Silva turns up -- the one that looks like he wants to win “Dancing with the Stars” or the one who wants to win a world title. Anderson displays great footwork, whether he is dancing around or whether he’s dismantling opponents. Anderson’s accuracy with his strikes is also devastating when his opponent brings the fight to him. Sonnen is a dangerous opponent. He won’t play the stand up game and will just continually shoot. His strength is ground-and-pound. He won’t submit Silva, and I doubt he will knock him out. His best way to victory is a ground-and-pound stoppage or a decision. Sonnen has really sold the fight. His trash talk has everybody talking about the match, even if it has gone too far. Even when it hits the ground, Silva is no slouch. Sonnen has been subbed from guard several times already, and we know Silva has the skills to do that. Also, this is five rounds. We know Silva can fight five rounds, as he has done it before. Can Sonnen keep up his pace for five rounds? He was looking gassed in the third round of his last fight, though I am sure he will come in a lot fitter. In the end, I would have to say my prediction will be Silva for the win. I just don’t know if he will dance out a decision or whether he will get his TKO or submission in the third round.
Marlon Sandro: Anderson wins. I don’t see how Sonnen can beat him. Anderson has several weapons, and Sonnen has only one.
Stephane Vigneault: At first, I wanted Sonnen to beat up Silva because of all the bulls--t fighting he does. But after seeing all the trash talk Sonnen did, I want to see Silva bust his face. After some more reflection, I am tired of seeing Silva there. UFC needs a new champion, and I think Sonnen is no joke. Style on style, it’s not a good matchup for Silva. Sonnen has the best style against him, but he’s not the best fighter with that style. Silva will win by submission in round three, and I am gonna be pissed again. Please bring on Vitor [Belfort]. Silva over Sonnen by triangle in round three.
Bebeo Duarte: I think Anderson wins this fight by knockout. I think he will give a fair punishment to Sonnen.
Tom Gavrilos: Sonnen has dug his own grave with that big mouth. Even if he does get Silva to the ground and in some trouble, Silva will easily recover guard, slap that figure four on and stall for a stand up. With Anderson being light years ahead on striking and jiu-jitsu, Sonnen’s only shot is having enough cardio to eke out a decision. That’s about it. Looking forward to seeing him eat his words.
Marcelo Gomes: Anderson wins in one more massacre.
Kultar Gill: Sonnen has done a lot of verbal ass-whooping; now it’s time to pay the piper. “The Spider” by broken orbital bone, round three.
Rodrigo Ruiz: Anderson wins by knockout.
Billy MacDonald: I see Anderson slapping the taste out of Chael’s mouth on this one. Selling a fight is one thing, but when you drag his family and friends into the mix, it gets personal. That being said, Chael is tough and resilient, and I don’t see an early finish. I’ll say Anderson via TKO late in round three or early in round four.
Keith Berry: Finally Silva has a legit challenge. I think it’s the worst style for Silva. Sonnen will use his wrestling and make it a grueling fight. I can’t wait. I’m really pulling for Sonnen. I say Sonnen by decision -- all five rounds.
Roy Arriola: To be completely honest here, I’m not interested in this fight at all. Silva’s last few performances have been very disappointing. I was once a huge fan, although he has walked through his opponents with ease. He reminds me of the Mike Tyson era when good ol’ Mike would destroy guys in under a minute and no one wanted to buy the PPV anymore. Well, the difference here, in my opinion, is that Mike Tyson came to crush his opponents and Silva has lacked that same killer instinct. I’ll be playing Monopoly with my kids and wait to read about it next month in the UFC magazine.
Pat Miletich: I remember Silva as the new skinny kid on the Chute Boxe team when our teams had a pretty big rivalry. He has been around for what seems to be forever. His striking is on another planet, and he has very good submission skills. His one weakness is takedown defense. That could prove to be a problem against a wrestler like Sonnen, but Sonnen has to use his wrestling wisely. Use the striking too much, and Sonnen goes to sleep. Sonnen needs to strike just enough to get takedowns that land him in half guard or cross sides to avoid Silva’s submission game. Sonnen has been submitted several times by good grapplers but seems to have improved greatly in that area over the past couple years. Several fighters in the past few years have made serious game plan blunders with Silva and decided to try and strike with him. Who the hell is telling these guys to box with Anderson? I think Sonnen is a very bright guy and knows where this fight needs to be to win. I also think he can get the takedowns. If nothing else, Sonnen has sold this fight with very good and funny interviews in what seems to be a genuine dislike for Silva. I want to lean towards Sonnen being able to outsmart and outhustle Silva, but if he tries to strike with Silva at all, he’ll get demolished. The fight will be decided by how creative Sonnen is with a sprinkling of striking to get clean takedowns.