Sonnen's famed wrestling was on full display Saturday as he used it to grind out a unanimous decision win over Silva in the main event of Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. The bout was the resolution of a conflict that dated back to 2013 when Sonnen and Silva were cast as competing coaches on the third season of "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil."
Following the win, Sonnen proclaimed his disdain for the city of New York, taunted rival Tito Ortiz, and called out heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko:
It was a much-needed bounce-back performance for Sonnen after his Bellator debut ended with him tapping out inside of a round to Ortiz. Sonnen had repeatedly said in interviews that the loss made him feel like the worst fighter in MMA, but the 40-year-old showed he had enough left in the tank to outwork Silva.
Sonnen took "The Axe Murderer" down early and often, nullifying most of Silva's attempts at initiating a striking game that was once one of the most feared in all of MMA. During a rare occasion when he was on his feet, Silva actually managed to flash those skills in Round 1 with a short right knee that briefly robbed Sonnen of his equilibrium:
But that was essentially it for Silva's offense, as Sonnen took him down at will for the rest of the bout and scored with punches of his own from top position:
Sonnen didn't have enough energy to finish Silva off, who in turn couldn't find a way to get up off his back, resulting in a fight that inevitably ended up in the hands of the judges, who ruled the bout a clear-cut win for Sonnen.
While Sonnen is now 1-1 in Bellator, Silva loses in his first fight since March 3, 2013, a span of almost 1,600 days. The 40-year-old Brazilian signed with Bellator last March, but was not eligible to compete until 2017 due to an existing suspension stemming from a refusal to submit drug tests to the Nevada State Athletic Commission back in September 2014.
Silva has now alternated wins and losses over his last seven contests, and his professional record falls to 35-13-1.