Anderson Silva was trying to defend the UFC middleweight title for the seventh time when he faced Chael Sonnen at UFC 117.
Before the fight, UFC commentator Joe Rogan said, “What is the recipe to beat Anderson Silva? Taking him down and grounding and pounding and smash him with punches and elbows and rough him up. Chael Sonnen is just the type of guy (who will) be able to do that.”
The oddsmakers did not seem to think Sonnen could do what Rogan laid out. Silva was a -556 favorite over Sonnen, who was a +300 underdog on fight night.
Sonnen staggered Silva within the first minute of the fight with his strikes and then 40 seconds later Sonnen took the fight to the mat and peppered Silva with ground strikes. By the time the first round ended, Sonnen land 47 strikes to Silva’s four.
Silva was active to start the second round, but Sonnen shut that down quickly by taking the fight to the mat within the first 15 seconds of the stanza. Silva never got back to his feet. Sonnen’s striking total for the round was 71 to Silva’s 18. Silva managed one submission attempt.
Silva took a big swing to start the third round, but Sonnen got another early takedown. Sonnen then stayed busy with punches from Silva’s back before he put Sonnen in his guard with three minutes left in the round. That did not stop Sonnen’s attack. The striking numbers for Sonnen in the third stanza were overwhelming as he outlanded the champion 96 to nine.
Sonnen was ahead 3-0 at the end of the third.
Silva was very aggressive in the fourth round and took the fight to the mat, but Sonnen reversed with four minutes left in the stanza and took control of the fight on the ground.
Sonnen was bloody by the start of the final round, but he was 100 percent in control of the fight and on his way to earning the UFC middleweight crown.
With forty seconds clicked off the clock, Silva slipped and Sonnen followed him to the mat, where he once again landed ground strikes and looked to stay busy. As Sonnen landed strikes, Silva took control of Sonnen’s right arm, he then released that arm and threw in a triangle before he added an armbar and forced Sonnen to tap 3:10 into the final round.
The win was one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history.
Silva faces Uriah Hall in the main event of tonight’s UFC on ESPN+ 39 fight card, which takes place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Before that fight, watch Silva’s comeback over Sonnen.