I could not possibly be more excited for Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen 2 to happen and I've been thinking a lot about Anderson's title reign and the middleweight division. If Sonnen were to win, would he be the second-best middleweight ever? Might he already be now? It seems suddenly important to me that there is no real, clear second-best middleweight ever. It really just Anderson. If Sonnen beat Silva, would that make him an all-time great? -- Jess from Idaho
Chris Nelson, associate editor: I’m giving this another try, Jess, since the editors rejected my original response which simply said “No.”
First, let me share in your excitement for the Silva-Sonnen rematch. With the UFC running more and more cards all the time, I find it harder and harder to get really jazzed for fights the way I used to. Even exciting stuff like Benson Henderson-Frankie Edgar doesn’t get me riled up the way the main event of UFC 148 has. It’s got nothing to do with the pro-wrestling-style smack talk -- okay, maybe a tiny bit -- but everything to do with the fact that one of the greatest fighters MMA has seen is about to tangle again with the man who gave him absolute fits in their first bout.
That said, I do believe Silva’s rib injury was a major factor the first time around, and I don’t think Sonnen will be able to repeat his performance come July 7. Even if he does, it would be hard to make a case for him as the No. 2 middleweight of all time (keeping in mind that “all time” is kind of a silly concept at this point in the sport’s history). I’m not a rankings man, but right now, Sonnen is probably in the lower half of the top 10 best middleweights in MMA to date. I’d still put Sonnen’s old nemesis, Paulo Filho, above Chael in the discussion, in spite of the Brazilian’s freefall over the past few years. Similarly, despite their shifting weight classes, Rich Franklin and Nate Marquardt both had great runs at 185 pounds. Longtime Sonnen training partner Matt Lindland would be neck-and-neck with him, too, as would his old Team Quest running mate Dan Henderson. Oh, and we can’t forget about Jeremy Horn -- I’m guessing Sonnen hasn’t.
In short, no, I don’t think Sonnen will be the second-best middleweight ever if he beats Silva.
As for all-time greatness, one win over Silva won’t do. Sonnen’s had a few solid wins in his latest UFC run, but, aside from his near-victory over the champ, nothing that really screams “legend.” He’d have to rout Silva again, probably win another rematch, then defend the belt for at least a few years, defeating increasingly tougher, younger and better-rounded competition as he goes. To me, that seems highly improbable, but stranger things have happened -- just ask Ryo Chonan and Daiju Takase.
Continue Reading » As Foes and Fighting Foils