I am not sure of what to make of the main event of UFC 117.
One thought is that Anderson fought through his injury by enduring 4.5 rounds of annoying and brutal strikes from Sonnen to finally pull of the most obvious submission he had. It seemed to me that he was setting up the triangle for a long time. There was even one point where he seemed to have an obvious kimura. The injury must be pretty serious.
I have injured my lower ribs more than once while training. The pain is real. Any type of torso contortion results in a pause to deal with the pain. Pausing while fighting can be a bad thing. Maybe that is why Anderson was so slow to pull the trigger on Chael.
But here is another thought...
Rib injuries do not cause you to drop your hands. Chael actually seemed to have rocked Silva. Silva's striking seemed like he wanted to brawl. Anyone that saw the Forrest fight knows Anderson is not a brawler. He is too precise to do that. Even as Griffin was attempting to mount an offense, Anderson's head movement was stellar. And he was rocked by Chael?
I hate to call myself a conspiracy theorist, but hear me out.
Anderson is a martial artist. He trains in everything. There is youtube footage of him doing Capoiera. He even trained with Steven Seagal recently. I watched his fights with Leites and Cote and I saw Anderson trying unconventional things. Same goes with Maia for the first 3 rounds. He was ridiculed in all of those fights for not engaging. I am part of the minority that thinks that he is the champion. He is not obligated to put himself into danger to win. If you want his belt, TAKE his belt. He even said himself that most people do not seem to know what is going on in the cage. Anderson is a calculating strategist. I think he was thinking beyond the Chael fight.
So lo and behold, the Chael fight happens. Anderson gives the fans exactly what they want to see. It is almost reminiscent of the Roman Coliseum: spectators cheer damage inflicted on the human body. Anderson's previous fights had fans wanting to see him punished for his "dancing". He stopped being experimental and brawled to amuse the crowds. And the crowds liked it. In an interview before the fight, Anderson even said he was going to "brawl". I am not in Anderson's mind. I do not know what he is thinking. But I do know that he had that triangle set up for a long time. It seems as if he wanted to play into the hearts and minds of the fans. Almost as if it was planned.
Some critics are calling it the best fight ever - a spectacular, come from behind, testament to the true heart of a champion. Maybe...
Then of course, Chael could be just that good.