Let’s be honest, if you’re an MMA fan, tonight is like Christmas even circa you’re tenth birthday. It’s impossible to sit still, sleep at night and all you’re doing is counting the minutes until tomorrows UFC 148. Hey, there’s a lot going down tomorrow. Anderson Silva will finally get his hands on Chael Sonnen, and Chael will get the opportunity to prove he’s more than words. Not to mention Tito’s swan song and rubber match with Forrest Griffin. There’s a lot to live up to.
The UFC 148 weigh ins today were on fire. It was a packed house, and a unique end stage set up. Fighters came up, stood on the scale and posed. You’re thinking same old same old right? Not so fast. When Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen squared up, Silva hit him with a shoulder to the chin. It was a definitive strike, out of character and against the rules. He’s likely to draw a fine, but at this point, he doesn’t care.
For his part in the shenanigans, Chael stood pat. He didn’t react; he stood in and squared up. It’s been very interesting to see people’s reactions to the non-reaction. People have said Chael was scared, Chael outsmarted him and some went as far to say Anderson did it to get disqualified. Not likely.
The likeliest scenario is that Chael’s plan to cause Anderson to fight emotionally and make mistakes has worked. However, it’s also possible that Chael will be living the whole “be careful what you ask for because you just might get it” moment tomorrow night. It’s not beyond rational thought to think Chael has brought down a fury not seen before in Anderson.
Silva has hurt people in his UFC career. He was a genial fellow when he rearranged Rich Franklin’s face, twice. He smiled and jabbed away at Forrest Griffin before dispatching him like a weak sparring partner. He damn near kicked Vitor’s face off, and now, an inner demon has seemingly been woken. All I know is I don’t want to face Anderson Silva when he’s in a good mood, let alone when he is spitting nails and angry to the point of insanity. Then again, I’m no Chael Sonnen.
It’d be easy to write Chael off. It’s easy to think the first fight was just an aberration, a result of an injured Anderson Silva not being able to compete. The betting odds are titled in Silva’s favor. What if Chael’s first fight with Anderson wasn’t a fluke, but rather the near-perfect execution of a blueprint developed in rural Oregon? Chael has picked a fight with the best fighter in the world. He didn’t do it by accident.
This fight at UFC 148 has me both deliriously excited and puzzled. I want to just say, Silva by TKO. I want to say Chael’s fifteen minutes of fame are fading fast. My mind tells me, Anderson Silva wins this, but after the weigh ins, I feel like Chael is in control of an emotionally unstable Anderson Silva. It’s going to be awesome. Bruce Buffer is going to announce the fighters, the referee will explain the last minute rules, and they will fight. No hand shake, no fist bumps, just two men, one a legend and the other trying to become a legend killer. I can’t wait.
Switching gears, it’s an emotional night for the UFC as Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz will make the walk to the Octagon for the final time at UFC 148. He’ll enter the cage, and face Forrest Griffin in their third fight. Each man has a win to in his column and the winner tomorrow will be considered the better man. Both fighters are responsible for the exponential growth of the UFC and the sport of MMA. Tito carried the UFC during the dark days, becoming champion and defending that title five times. He carried multiple feuds in the UFC, with Ken Shamrock, and Chuck Liddell and was the first big UFC poster boy.
Forrest Griffin of course made history with Stephan Bonnar in the first Ultimate Fighter finale. Those two stood toe to toe and landed haymakers until the bell rang and Forrest was given the “six figure contract.” What he did was introduce a massive new audience to the sport and in doing so, carried it to new heights.
Whoever wins, it will be a bittersweet moment when Tito says goodbye. He’s been such a big part of the sport, and as a fan of his, I want to thank him for his efforts, win or lose tomorrow night. He’s an Icon, a Hall of Famer and one of the most fan friendly competitors in professional sports.
There’s a bunch of great fights on paper tomorrow night but the “big two” are why people are ordering. Expect the PPV numbers to be massive. One million buys massive. This is a HUGE weekend for the UFC and if this card can live up to 30 percent of the hype, it’ll be a card for the ages.
I’ll be like a kid on Christmas tonight, and I know a lot of other fans will be to. All I want for Christmas is UFC 148 to be all that it can be. Hell, maybe a little more.