In-Depth Look Behind Anderson Silva’s Immaculate Submission of Chael Sonnen

Written by Tom Ngo
August 11th, 2010

Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen Weigh In UFC117

While fans across the globe continue to marvel over Anderson Silva’s miraculous comeback victory at UFC 117, it appears the planet’s baddest middleweight called his shot prior to entering the Octagon on Saturday night – a la “The Great Babmino.” In fact, most believe Chael Sonnen should have seen the triangle armbar submission coming from a mile away.

“He should have recognized that wrist control and peeled the hands,” Matt Lindland, MMA legend and Sonnen’s cornerman, told SI.com following the disappointing loss.

Although the chatty challenger wasn’t able to identify the slick submission before it was too late, it appears the champion predicted the outcome in his locker room before taking center stage.

According to SI’s Josh Gross, the sport’s most efficient striker told those closest to him that he expected to be taken down and would have to win the fight from his back. However, that wouldn’t be before he established a sold full-guard and allow Sonnen to recklessly punch himself into a bad spot.

It was something Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, former UFC interim heavyweight champ and the man who awarded Silva the “free Happy Meal toy” that he considers a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt, noticed when watching film of Sonnen’s past fights. Specifically, his triangle choke submission loss to Demian Maia at UFC 95 in February 2009.

“We saw just that sometimes Sonnen gets too confident with his punching and he opens holes,” Big Nog shared.

While everybody this side of Chael Sonnen never imagined Silva’s prayers would be answered with only 110 ticks remaining on the clock, Nogueira said he saw “The Spider” attempt what they had specifically worked on in camp seven times before the 5thRound came calling. However, unlike the sub that ultimately sealed the deal, Sonnen was able to neutralize those threats by staying active in Silva’s guard.

Speaking of Hail Marys, Nogueira admitted that he couldn’t bring himself to watch the final go-for-broke stanza, as he “kept his head down and prayed.”

Although the teacher turned away and missed seeing his protege’s crowning achievement, it doesn’t mean he didn’t know exactly how it went down.

“Anderson has long legs and Sonnen was really inside his guard,” Nogueira expressed. “He was too outside or too inside. He was never in the middle. And in the middle of the position is when you find the time to submit a guy. Anderson held his arm and wrist and let Sonnen punch and get confidence.

“He put himself in the middle position and Anderson took the chance to take his knee outside so it was one arm in, one arm out so he could do the triangle.”

Despite dominating arguably the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter for 23 minutes and 10 seconds, a brief lapse in concentration cost Sonnen the opportunity of a lifetime.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it’s called mixed martial arts.

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