Sonnen and Silva have never fought but the two nearly came to blows over the weekend at an expo in Las Vegas. According to Silva, he didn’t “smash” Sonnen because he wanted to keep things professional but his behavior was anything BUT that when face-to-face with his potential foe, delivering a handful of profanities and threats during the exchange (which he also happened to tape). Their rivalry has been going on for years, starting when Sonnen insulted Silva’s homeland of Brazil. Since then Sonnen has accused Silva of ducking him, but at this point it seems keeping the two apart for much longer is virtually impossible based on the emotions involved. Things weren’t particularly nasty between Daley/Koscheck during the build up to their bout at UFC 113. However, the climate changed during the confrontation due to Daley’s frustration with Koscheck’s decision to repeatedly take him down and hold him on the mat. Both men exchanged insults during the bout with Daley promising to get at least one good shot in on Koscheck. Though he wasn’t able to do so within the allotted timeframe, Daley notoriously walked up to Koscheck after the bell at threw a strike. Fortunately it didn’t connect with full force, but the sucker-punch was still enough to get Daley kicked out of the UFC. What started out as little more than hype through social media has turned into a full-fledged war between Rousey/Tate. The trash-talk grew in intensity the closer the two came to fighting in Strikeforce a few years ago and even resulted in a semi-headbutt from Rousey during their staredown at the weigh-ins. While Rousey’s decimation of Tate in the actual tilt should have marked the end to their anger, things appear to be as bad as ever based on their behavior in recent months. While some of it is certainly aimed at marketing, it is equally obvious Rousey and Tate won’t be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon if ever. Sonnen turned himself from a middle-of-the-road player to a superstar in the sport by calling out Silva at a time “The Spider” was seen as invincible. Sonnen’s verbal barrage was relentless, calling into question Silva’s courage, ability, and character as a Brazilian. When the two met in 2010, Sonnen backed up his words with some surprisingly crisp stand-up and a ton of takedowns/top control. He even came within a few minutes of emerging with a decision victory but ultimately got caught in a submission and tapped out. Rather than admit defeat, Sonnen spun the performance in his favor and eventually landed a second shot at Silva. This time around it was evident Silva’s feelings towards Sonnen had soured and the typically soft-spoken former champion went so far as to deliver a shoulder blow during their final staredown. However, a second win for Silva in the actual scrap seemed to settle the issue, and he even went so far as to invite Sonnen to dinner after its conclusion. Ortiz and Shamrock marked the first real rivalry in the UFC. The former “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” seemed to know exactly what buttons to push on Shamrock to drive him crazy, eliciting a physical response on a handful of occasions. In one notable instance, Shamrock flipped a chair over at a press conference after Ortiz laughed at being threatened, and in another Shamrock had to be held back by competitors on TUF in a similar fit of frustration with his adversary’s behavior. After fighting three times the two finally squashed the matter, and though they may not be friends they certainly aren’t out seeking blood either as was the case years ago. Lesnar nearly did the unthinkable when he met Mir in 2008 by coming close to pounding the former champion out in what was only the former WWE Superstar’s second professional fight. However, Mir was able to secure a leg lock and got the tap. Instead of showing some humility in the wake of his hard-fought victory, Mir started a steady stream of smack aimed in Lesnar’s direction, even going too far at times by bringing up the possibility of death or a career-ending injury once the two locked horns. The situation awoke a beast in Lesnar who came out strong and absolutely smashed Mir in their rematch. Afterwards Lesnar stood over his badly beaten, fallen foe and understandably did a little talking of his own.
Most Mixed Martial Artists enter match-ups with the mindset of the fight being a professional matter rather than a means of settling a personal vendetta. However, bouts occasionally come with bad blood between the involved participants and in the blink of an eye things can turn nasty. While boxing has its fair share of ugly incidents, the
UFC is not without its own blemishes when it comes to competitors taking things a step or two over the line based on genuine dislike of a peer. Even as recently as this weekend, nearly threw down outside of the Octagon. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen