One of the best things about mixed martial arts has always been the rivalries that develop between some of the biggest stars in the sport. Whether it be due to a personal grudge or simply because they’re both chasing the title, there’s always an extra layer of intrigue when fighters have a genuine problem with one another.
For better or worse, that regularly leads to exciting fights, and it can also make a lot of money for the promotion that plays host to the encounter.
That’s never been more true than in the UFC and within the context of ‘GOAT’ feuds, the war between Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva has to be up there with the very best of them.
The two men fought twice under the banner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and on both occasions, the UFC middleweight title was on the line.
In their first collision at UFC 117, Sonnen used his superior wrestling ability to neutralise and control Anderson for almost five whole rounds – only to let the belt slip away from him thanks to a late submission win for ‘The Spider’.
Then, two years later at UFC 148, a second round TKO for Silva brought an end to the rivalry, although Chael had certainly earned the respect of fans across the globe for what he brought to the table.
In a recent interview, both men gave their thoughts on that particular chapter in their careers.
Video: Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen look back
Sonnen: “People do say it was the greatest rivalry ever and that means something to me. You want to leave something behind and you don’t always get to do it, I feel like Anderson and I did. I feel like many people are even trying to duplicate and copy it, and I don’t want to take credit for what they’re doing but in some ways, I think we do live on a little bit and I do think that rivalry changed the way this sport is presented.”
Silva: “I’m so happy because this man here helped me to build and do more for my legacy. It helped show to the new generation, to my kids, for kids in Brazil and in the world, how much this sport can change everybody.”
Anderson’s next challenge
The reason both men were together is because Anderson Silva will be returning to the boxing ring on October 29 to take on Jake Paul, with Sonnen serving as the host of their press conference earlier this week.