This weekend’s UFC Middleweight Championship rematch between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen is without a doubt the biggest MMA fight of the year, and the UFC is fully aware of it.
They’ve been promoting it as such with ad spots all over TV and the Internet, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chael doing a guest spot or two this week to hype it up even further.
But for fans who will be watching no matter what, one highlight of big PPV events are the free fights released leading up to the event. This time, the UFC has put out a good amount of past fights featuring Saturday night’s main and co-main event fighters, including the big one: Silva-Sonnen I.
For the champion, the UFC is showing Silva’s two fights since his first encounter with Sonnen – knockout victories over former champion Vitor Belfort at (UFC 126) and Yushin Okami (UFC 134).
Since he’s easily the most popular fighter on the card and still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters around, the UFC didn’t have to reach too far into the vault to show Anderson at his best. Keep in mind that the Anderson Silva that we saw in the first Sonnen fight was dominated for 4 1/2 rounds and many had no idea what to expect from him against someone as dangerous as Vitor Belfort. Okami was also the last fighter to beat Anderson (although it was by disqualification.
For Chael, you can see his victories over Brian Stann (UFC 136), Nate Marquardt (UFC 117) and Dan Miller (UFC 98). The Miller fight was Sonnen’s second since returning to the UFC. He had lost his first match via first round triangle. The Stann fight was Chael’s first since losing to Anderson, and questions had been raised about how well he would perform after a year-long suspension for banned substances and other legal issues. In his #1 contender fight against Marquardt, few expected him to come out on top. Those who remember Marquardt’s first fight against Silva certainly weren’t anxious to see Nate get another crack at the champion, though.
For the co-main event, we have the rubber match between former champions Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz. Both have put together Hall of Fame careers in the Octagon and Ortiz has said that this Saturday will be the final match of his career.
The UFC fittingly brought out the three best UFC fights of Forrest Griffin’s career (which are also three of the best fights in UFC history). His Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale match with Stephan Bonnar is still widely considered the best fight in UFC history and helped put both the organization and the popular reality show on the map back in 2005. His fights against former Light Heavyweight champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson also made the cut and are just as thrilling as the first Bonnar fight. All three fights are textbook examples of Griffin’s heart and determination, which have become synonymous with his MMA career.
For Ortiz, the UFC had to go back much further. Despite his legendary career, Ortiz hasn’t been relevant for years, losing six of his last eight fights (one draw). You can see the third fight in his trilogy against Ken Shamrock in 2006 and his submission win over Yuki Kondo 12 years ago all the way back at UFC 29.
The links for all the fights are up top. I’ll post any more that I find throughout the week. HAPPY FIGHT WEEK!