Saturday, 7 January 2012

UFC 134 Anderson Silva vs Yushin Okami 2 in retrospect

There were no surprises come Saturday night, as Anderson Silva did what many expected and clinically picked apart Okami before finishing him in the second round to retain his UFC Middleweight belt and continue his impressive winning streak. The Spider looking comfortable as ever, quickly found his rhythm and went to work on the Judoka standout. The first round exposed Okami’s inability to stand with the champion, and he was forced to close the distance. The clinch didn’t seem any more favourable as Silva landed a couple of brutal knees which tempted Thunder into shooting for wishful takedowns. After separating, Silva landed a head kick to finish the round and set the tone for that which was to come.

Round two saw the champion bursting out of the gates and, in what was virtually a remake of his UFC 101 bout with Forrest Griffin, Silva toyed with a hesitant Okami. The middleweight king dropped his hands, stood in the pocket and even played the fool in an attempt to goad his opponent. Okami, reluctant to fire, was punished whenever he gathered the courage, and found himself on his back twice in quick succession. The first time courtesy of a straight right hand, the second a right hook. He would rise but once. Silva pouncing on the wounded challenger finished him with knees and punches and put an exclamation mark on yet another title defence, simultaneously avenging his disqualification loss acquired at the hands of Okami in 2006.

So where did Okami go wrong?
Many people have compared Yushin Okami to Chael Sonnen, and looked to Okami to finish what his training partner Sonnen could not, at UFC 117 a year ago. The major question raised was whether Okami, who lacks the wrestling pedigree of Sonnen, would have the ability to take Silva down as his partner had done. On Saturday night, Thunder was unable to execute this game plan, but one was left feeling this was more due to an exaggerated respect for the champion and his abilities than his own shortfalls. Okami, a talented fighter, was made to look less than ordinary by a confident athlete who exploited the situation. It is nigh impossible to imagine Sonnen hesitating for even a moment had Silva toyed with him as he did Okami, and therein lies the difference. Sonnen believed he was better, Sonnen believed he could win, and as a result he stood a chance. Many fights are won in the mind.

Where does Silva go from here?
Rumours have already begun circling about possible rematches with Strikeforce Light  Heavyweight champion Dan Henderson and UFC nemesis Chael Sonnen. While Silva managed to defeat both men, they did each expose chinks in his armour, which have been instrumental in developing a blueprint for beating the middleweight great. Sonnen, for his part, largely did this, only to lose via a Triangle choke with 2 minutes left on the clock. While these fights do make somewhat sense, as a fan it is a little frustrating to constantly see title fight rematches. I would like to see something new and interesting, which leads the argument of super fights. I don’t think anyone would deny that Silva vs Jones would be a great fight, but with the LHW division so stacked, it doesn’t make sense for the UFC to make this fight. This takes us right back to Silva vs GSP. Both men have cleaned their divisions. Both men are constantly forced to defend their title in rematches. Both men seem to lack a challenge... so give them one. While the UFC must protect the brands they have created in both of these athletes, a super fight would certainly be one for the books!


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