Card changes fall in Sonnen's favor
January, 18, 2012
By Chuck Mindenhall
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesChael Sonnen, top, might as well book his flight to Brazil for an Anderson Silva rematch.When Dana White announced that Mark Munoz was out of his UFC on FOX 2 fight with Chael Sonnen just 11 days before the Jan. 28 card, it sent MMA’s Twitter feeds into dawning.
It trickled in like this: Too bad for Mark Munoz (he’s such a nice guy, and let’s hope he’s OK). Great for Michael Bisping (and very deserving). What happens to Demian Maia (somebody plug Rousimar Palhares in, and let him charge). Great for Chris Weidman (what an opportunity to fight Demian Maia).
It’s a lot of epiphany to absorb in one scroll and, as always, people exercised their right to congratulate other people as publicly as possible.
One interesting thing was that many seemed to think that the new makeshift lineup was better than the original, if not far more just -- Bisping should have been fighting Sonnen all along. In other words, we were sitting on a pile of unaired complaints until yesterday, which is exactly why UFC matchmaker Joe Silva doesn’t have a Twitter account.
Yet there was one thing that nearly everybody outside of England agreed upon -- with the new pairing of Sonnen and Bisping in a middleweight title eliminator, Sonnen just got clearance to land in Sao Paulo for his fight with Anderson Silva come June.
Michael Bisping, for as sturdy and willing and ultimately successful as he is, won’t match up well against a guy who fights horizontally. British fighters aren't known for their wrestling. Worse, the British can't stop Americans from wrestling, not with snarky verbal protests, anyway. This thing looks one-sided. Even Vegas opened the books with Sonnen better than a 4-to-1 favorite. With odds like that, it looks like a Strikeforce event.
Al Powers for ESPN.comThe old jab-and-run routine won't be an option for Michael Bisping come Jan. 28.
Yet despite all the quickly digested excitement of the Chicago card rearrangements, think about the (potential) gift this is to Sonnen.
He went from fighting a guy in Munoz who looked like a huge monkey wrench in his plans to rematch Silva, to the type of fighter he is accustomed to dominating. Sonnen doesn’t do Muay Thai plum, and he doesn’t tolerate jab-and-retreat. He tackles. Then he buries his head in chests and flails the loosest appendages he can toward the supine man’s head. He did it to Nate Marquardt, Yushin Okami and Brian Stann. His thing is to conquer.
Against Bisping, it’s hard to envision it going much differently. Bisping should show up to Chicago with a bow on top.
At least, that’s the thinking. While Chris Weidman looks like a Charlie Brenneman special for Demian Maia, Bisping appears more like a turnstile for Sonnen. The puncher’s chance will always be in play, but he might need to land it from his back.
And if Sonnen does walk through Bisping as so many believe, he might consider throwing out this all-purpose word in his postfight speech: Obrigado.
After all, there will be millions of paulistanos saying the same thing.