Anderson Silva took all of Chael Sonnen’s pre-fight bluster and blew it up in his face.
Silva (32-4, 15-0 UFC) stopped Sonnen on second-round punches in the UFC 148 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Ruthless ground-and-pound brought it to a close 1:55 into round two, likely bringing resolution to one of the most heated rivalries in Ultimate Fighting Championship history.
Sonnen (27-12-1, 6-5 UFC) executed his game plan to perfection in the first round. He struck for a takedown inside the first 10 seconds, moved to half guard roughly a minute later and ultimately mounted the champion. Silva spent the final 4:54 of round one on his back, silenced and neutralized by the challenger’s heavy top game.
Round two was a different story. Silva denied Sonnen’s advances and later dodged a wild and ill-advised spinning back fist from the 35-year-old Oregonian. Sonnen wound up on the seat of his pants after the attempted strike, leaving him vulnerable to one of the game’s most vicious finishers. With Sonnen on the ground, Silva planted a knee firmly in his chest, sapping both wind and resolve. The American regained his footing briefly, only to go down again. This time, Silva finished it, unleashing a series of jackhammer punches and forcing referee Yves Lavigne to intervene.
“I was on the ground, and he got me with a good knee,” Sonnen said. “Other than that, I’ll have to look at the tape.”
Silva has won 16 consecutive fights, a record 15 of them inside the Octagon. He has now defended the middleweight title 10 times, also an all-time record. Afterward, the two men seemed to bury the hatchet.
“They gave me the opportunity. Nobody owes me anything,” Sonnen said. “He’s a true champion.”
Griffin Spoils Ortiz Swan Song
Former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin weathered a pair of knockdowns -- one in the first round and another in the third -- to defeat retiring UFC hall of famer Tito Ortiz by unanimous decision in the co-main event. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Griffin (19-7, 10-5 UFC), who won for the third time in four appearances.
Ortiz (16-11-1, 15-11-1) showed glimpses of his former self, as he delivered takedowns and some patented ground-and-pound in the first and third frames. However, it became clear midway through the fight that he lacked the energy required to finish the job. Griffin consistently beat him to the punch, landing two, three and sometimes four strikes to his one.
The 37-year-old Ortiz saw his last best chance at victory come and go in round three, when he floored Griffin with a clean left hook. He did not have the reserves he needed to pursue the finish. Griffin recovered, picked up where he left off and took the rubber match between the two former champions.
“It felt close,” Griffin said. “I feel like we’ve got three draws [against each other]. I want a fourth round. He gassed at the end. I didn’t have enough gas, either.”
Ortiz exits the Octagon with 27 appearances, the most in UFC history, and 15 wins, tied for fifth most in UFC history.
Former Strikeforce Champion Le Outduels Cote
Former Strikeforce champion Cung Le registered his first Octagon victory with a unanimous decision over Patrick Cote in a middleweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for the 40-year-old Le (8-2, 1-1 UFC).
Le kept the Canadian at bay for much of the fight with his vast arsenal of kicks to the head and body, and he backed those up with sneaky counter punches. Cote (17-8, 4-8 UFC), a replacement for former middleweight titleholder Rich Franklin, started to dial in his right hand in the second round, but his offense was sporadic at best. Le mixed in a pair of takedowns in the third round to seal it.
“I feel good; a little tired,” Le said. “I was going to do a backflip, but I didn’t have any energy.”
Maia Halts Kim in Welterweight Debut
Demian Maia made a successful debut at 170 pounds, as he stopped Dong Hyun Kim on an anti-climactic first-round technical knockout in a welterweight showcase. Maia (16-4, 10-4 UFC), a 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, closed it out 47 seconds into round one.
Maia moved immediately to the clinch, fought for a takedown and dragged the South Korean judo black belt to the ground, appearently injuring his ribs in the process. The 34-year-old Brazilian moved to mount on the incapacitated Kim (15-2-1, 6-2 UFC), fired a few punches and raised his arms in triumph when it became apparent his foe was incapable of defending himself.
Mendes Fells McKenzie in 31 Seconds
Team Alpha Male’s Chad Mendes needed a little more than half a minute to dispatch Cody McKenzie, as he stopped “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 alum on a brutal punch to the body and follow-up ground strikes in a featured matchup at 145 pounds. McKenzie (13-3, 2-3 UFC) met his end 31 seconds into round one.
Mendes (12-1, 3-1 UFC) knocked the wind out of the Alaskan with a beautiful counter right hand to the body and trailed him to the ground, finishing it there with a series of punches and hammerfists.
“We knew that was something that could work against Cody,” Mendes said. “That was something we worked on. He’s got a long body.”
Easton Extends Streak, Outpoints Menjivar
Mike Easton recorded his eighth consecutive win, as he captured a unanimous verdict over Tristar Gym’s Ivan Menjivar in a bantamweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it for Easton (13-1, 3-0 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27.
Menjivar (24-9, 3-2 UFC) never established himself in the match. Easton backed up the El Salvador native with relentless forward movement and unleashed a multi-pronged striking attack, with brutal punches to the body and kicks to the head and legs serving as his most effective weapons. Easton sealed it with a takedown in the third round, as he capitalized on Menjivar’s aggression, ducked under one of his kicks and brought the bout the ground.
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