By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times –
LAS VEGAS — Anderson Silva again turned strife into conquest in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon Saturday in a repeat victory over tough challenger Chael Sonnen.
Middleweight champion Silva, in deep trouble from a first-round takedown that kept him exposed to tight punches and elbows with his back on the canvas, rallied in the second round to record a technical-knockout victory at MGM Grand.
After failing to repeat a takedown of the elusive, six-year champion, Sonnen (28-12-1) missed a spinning hit and tumbled to the mat.
Silva (30-4) seized his opportunity, charging with Sonnen’s back pressed to the cage and delivering a hard right knee to the challenger’s chest.
Clearly stunned by the blow, Sonnen was left prone as Silva struck him with seven right-handed punches to the face, prompting referee Yves Lavigne to rush in and stop the fight at 1:55 of the second round.
“He got me with a good knee,” Sonnen said afterward. “After that, I’m going to have to look at the tape.”
Brazil’s Silva, who rallied from losing the first four rounds of their August 2010 fight in Oakland to win via fifth-round submission, has now won 16 consecutive UFC fights.
The victory also helped conclude a bitter verbal war with Sonnen, who has called Silva a “phony” and insulted the champion’s home country and wife, cracking that he’d like Silva’s wife to barbecue him a medium-rare steak in victory.
Because that didn’t happen Saturday, Silva invited Sonnen to join him in the middle of the octagon after the fight, asking his countrymen in attendance to “show Chael we have manners … I want everyone to applaud Chael.”
Silva then said, “If you’d like to have a barbecue at my house, I’d love to have you over.”
Sonnen said he was “very grateful for the chance” to fight Silva again, adding he was impressed by the performance: “Returning champion, man.”
The card also saw Tito Ortiz wear a gladiator helmet into the octagon, raising his index finger to the crowd to indicate he had this one fight left in his career.
The former CIF champion wrestler from Huntington Beach High in Southern California who helped build mixed martial arts beyond a fringe sport bowed out in a narrow decision loss to Forrest Griffin, 29-28,on the three judges’ scorecards.
“This is it,” Ortiz said. “I gave it my all.”
Ortiz, 37, dropped Griffin with a straight right in the second round, but the resilient Griffin rallied with punches, trying to follow through on his pre-fight promise to retire Ortiz “once and forever,” as Ortiz appeared to start running out of gas.
But Ortiz knocked Griffin down again in the third with a short left, and delivered a right elbow to the head, pressing down Griffin as he sought to escape.
The pair rose for the final two minutes, with Ortiz slightly cut under the right eye. Griffin and Ortiz exchanged in the final seconds, prompting roars of cheers.
“I think we fought a draw,” Griffin said.