My Weepy, Whiny, and Wistful Reaction to Silva v. Sonnen.

My Weepy, Whiny, and Wistful Reaction to Silva v. Sonnen.

So I wrote about this fight a while ago. Right about 8 months, in fact. And since then, I’ve gained a lot of perspective on, and respect for Chael Sonnen. I read his book, listened to his interviews, and laughed my ass off at his surprisingly intellectual appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast. I got a good feeling from this guy’s content. I was inspired by his work ethic, intrigued by his legal battles, and watched anxiously as he squeezed by a very game Michael Bisping to set up the rematch of all rematches. Suffice to say, I did a complete 180 on my opinion of him. I managed to do this just in time to see him lose. I gotta tell you folks, I was way more disappointed about this than I expected to be.

I’m a little bit surprised at myself. I’m normally pretty good at rooting for the guy who wins. Not this time. I’m acting like an emotionally crushed little boy. Watching Chael Sonnen get his ass kicked that second round made me feel like all the hippie chicks in the world must have felt when the Beatles broke up.

Damn you, Yoko. Damn you, Silva.

It’s weird too, because I saw it coming. I was rooting for Chael, but I was betting on Silva. And maybe that was the mistake. Call me crazy, but I’m one of those psycho fans who think that belief effects reality. Chael believed he could win, although it’s probable he lost confidence in the second round. However, when he was walking to the cage he looked focused, unperturbed, and climactically ready for combat. His eyes were steely, his mouth was shut, and his fists were clinched. I watched that first round, and I was convinced we were going to see a one sided ass beating of epic proportions. I was ready to change my bet.

For what it’s worth, I was right. It was a pretty one sided ass beating, in both rounds. The only the thing that changed was the guy dishing out the beating. It got to be kind of a questionable though. With the Vaseline Silva wiped on his body, the grabbing of the shorts, the quick stoppage, and that knee–which was legal, but sure as hell looked like it hit him in the face– I was smelling a rat. However, none of it really made that much of a difference. None of it would have changed the end result. It was a quick stoppage, but I don’t think it was an early one. The Vaseline was spotted by Yves Lavigne long before it would ever become a factor, and not much damage was done when Silva grabbed Sonnen’s shorts. All it really did was further my dislike for Silva, and open up tiny avenues for complaint.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have been a huge fan of Silva’s for years. It’s hard not to be, I mean, he is the best ever. He’s dominated all sorts of competition at middleweight and light heavyweight. His highlight reel is nothing short of astounding, and at 37 years of age, he still hasn’t met with any legitimate competition that he hasn’t been able to dominate in the most competitive and aggressive sport on the planet. The guy is incredible, but he’s kind of a douche.

The shoulder bump at the weigh-ins was one thing, technically assault, but there’s no way he didn’t know wiping Vaseline on his body was illegal. And grabbing his opponent’s shorts? Come on, man.  Really? That’s how a champion acts? Even his “classy attitude” at the end of the fight seemed like thinly veiled sarcasm to me.

However, I am perfectly willing to admit that I’m so close to this fight, even after the fact, that I can’t be objective about it. I’m just too emotionally charged. I feel like a woman 5 months pregnant in tears over spilled milk. Not a pleasant thing to be feeling, especially for a guy in his mid-twenties. It is entirely possible that I’m just being a hater.

But that’s what’s so great about watching professional sports. I can’t be apathetic and objective when I’m watching my guy get his ass kicked. The brilliant minds at the UFC hacked my senses, had me riveted to the screen, took my money, and delivered a form of entertainment so strikingly beautiful that broke me out of the existential malaise of everyday life.  I’m telling you guys, this really killed me. When Sonnen missed that spinning back-fist and flopped sloppily onto the canvas, my heart dropped with him. It was like my soul took a knee to the chest as I shouted angrily about how it illegal it looked.

But it wasn’t.

It was a perfectly legal knee, despite word from Chael’s coach demanding a rematch, and citing the knee as just cause. There won’t be a rematch unless Chael defeats three or four top contenders in a row, and at age thirty-five that may be a tall order before he retires. He’d have to at least beat current frontrunner Chris Weidman, Hector Lombard, Alan Belcher and probably Vitor Belfort too. All of whom are natural born killers. I mean, straight wrecking machines. A few of those names are certainly interchangeable with some other notables, but considering Chael’s already beaten three of the other top ten guys, he  just lost to the champ, and is the official number two on just about everyone’s list, I figure that’s a pretty comprehensive group of names. Oh, and let’s not forget that Anderson Silva is already thirty-seven, and would have to survive at least two more title defenses before the UFC would even consider a rematch. No, there doesn’t seem to be a great likelihood for a rematch at the moment.

Thus, my heart sinks another few feet below sea level. Where are my American heroes? It’s hard to name anybody that I can really relate to and believe in. At heavy you’ve got JDS, who is a beast and a gentleman, but he’s Brazilian, so I don’t get to go all nationalistic with my fandom. At light heavy you’ve got Jones, who was my top pic as a dominant American champ to get behind, but he’s a)younger and brash b)a little too cocky, and  c) dealing with the fallout from his DUI, which I don’t really begrudge him for, but it doesn’t endear me to him either. I’m too traumatized to put any faith on anybody beating Silva at middleweight right now, although Weidman is looking like a well-trained and likable assassin… Welterweight is GSP, who would be perfect, but he’s quite obviously Canadian. We’ll see how the match with Condit plays out, but I’m not expecting George to suddenly start losing. I’m too shy to start courting Ben Henderson just yet, especially when he robbed me of my Rocky-esque hero Frankie Edgar, (who I am counting on to win back the title, and help me believe in the underdog again.) Jose Aldo is another Brazilian bad-ass. Dominic Cruise is benched, and a douchebag–albeit an amiable one. I liked Faber for their rematch, but it was not to be. I can’t have my California Kid hero worship for another 14 months or some-such nonsense. Stupid Cruise, though there is again a silver lining where I get to see Faber against Barao, who has yet to face a high level wrestler–the ultimate test for a Brazilian in the octagon.  And finally, the flyweights haven’t been around long enough for me to care about any of them. Might Mouse Johnson isn’t really hero material in my book. He hasn’t saved the day for me yet. Not even once.

Where are my damned heroes?

Perhaps I’m playing it too picky. I’m a huge Uriah Faber fan, and I think he’s got Barao’s number on this one. Barao is no joke, but the he’s only had two opponents that could be considered elite world level competition. Not bashing his Vale Tudo wins either, it’s just that Brazil is a little pond compared to the Oceanic UFC. Either way, Barao is a big fish with a ton of experience for his age. After wins over Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgenson, I’d say he might be a maco shark. But Maco sharks don’t fuck with Marlins, and that’s the level I put a lot of the team Alpha Male guys at. Money Mendes, for example: Marlin. Unfortunately, he suffered a setback when he got ate up by a knee from the killer whale apex predator known as Jose Aldo. Cruise is a tougher test, but I got a feeling that this time Faber will manage a finish on count Chocula whenever his ACL  heals up. He’s just due. He’s had 4 title shots at higher weights and come up short, but the guy just has every quality and bearing of a champion. It’s harder to imagine him not succeeding.

Then there’s Jonny Bones, who I think is getting a little more heat than he deserves. Dude is young, talented beyond reason, new to fame, and hasn’t really gotten the public persona down like he needs to yet. He oughta take lessons from Chael. His religious leanings make him an easy target for a secular media, especially after his DUI/car crash that had implications of infidelity.

To address that quickly, I went to college, and have therefore known a lot of guys to drive when they shouldn’t have. It’s a gamble every time, and this time Jones rolled snake eyes. Luckily no one was hurt, he just has to buy a new Bentley, and plant a new tree. While I’m not defending his actions, I think someone needs to offer a little bit of alternative perspective on this scenario.  First off, he’s driving the economy by replacing his broken vehicles so there’s a huge silver lining. Hell, with the right publicist he could spin this as socially conscious. Secondly, that tree should have just gotten out of his way. Who just sits there and takes a hit from the 205 lb champion of the world? Stupid nature. Thirdly, there’s no proof that he was cheating on his wife, and to assume so is irresponsible of the media and damaging to his personal life, something pundits should be a little more careful of doing. The guy has kids that may have to read some of the malicious muck that’s being slung at their father someday, you know? He might just have been giving some old high-school friends a ride home for all we know, so why start making unsubstantiated assertions? I’m not saying he did or didn’t have some lascivious intent, but since I have no way of knowing, speculating on the matter in a public forum with a huge audience would put me one or two steps away from being a libelous bastard.

Going back to what I said about his public persona, he’s made a few statements that are easy to misconstrue. Everybody keeps asking him about a super-fight with Anderson Silva, and he says it’s just not a fight that makes sense for him. They’re both champions with a lot to lose legacy wise at this point, and the fight isn’t that attractive. That’s a fair statement, but definitely not what a violence hungry public wants to hear. Everybody wants to see Goku in the UFC.  They all want somebody who wants to fight the best no matter what, and someone with a power level way over 9,000. The thing is, it’s not practical to have that attitude from a career longevity standpoint.

Besides, there are still plenty of challengers coming up against the both of them. Silva has Weidman, Lombard, a Belfort rematch, Michael Bisping (should he ever get his act together and grab a marquee win that is,) Alan Belcher is an up and comer to watch, and even Brian Stann if he can put together a healthy win streak. Jones has to steamroll Dan Henderson, I’d like to see a rematch with Shogun, Glover Texiera is on the horizon if he can get past Rampage, and Alexander Gustofsson too. There’s plenty of competition for them to hammer out before they need to look outside their weight-classes. And even if there weren’t, a way better superfight with more historical implications would be Silva vs. GSP. I’d much rather see the two most dominant champions of their era battle it out, than see whether the new guard can dethrone the old. In sum, I would like to see that fight, but not just yet. There’s still a lot of house cleaning to do before we get to that point.

Besides, I don’t want Silva to get beat by somebody way bigger than him. I want him on even physical ground when he’s finally pushed off the top of the mountain. I want to know that the advantage wasn’t in anatomical size but in practiced skill. I want to see someone who can really claim to be the new best in the world. Well, honestly I think Jones could probably claim that title in a few years. I’m anxious to see how he’ll do if he ever moves up to heavyweight. Right now, I think JDS would eat him for lunch.

Anyway, I’ll have to apologize to my loyal readers here for such a longwinded ramble. To bring it back around to my point, I think there is a severe lack of relatable and lovable heroes in the MMA world right now, unless you’re from Brazil. I’m anxious to see a few of these guys, (notably: Faber, Weidman, and even Condit) to step up in a big way and upend the conventional wisdom about their competition. And while my heartbreak over Chael Sonnen has been quite devastating, I suppose it took me writing this many words to locate my hopes and dreams again. There is plenty of action, a lot of stars, and an abundance of drama to keep me on the edge of my seat. This is again the beauty of the sport. There are always new fighters and new competitions on the horizon that will raise their hands on a new day; allowing me that sweet taste of vicarious victory, and the exultant joy of picking a true and deserving champion.