So where does the rivalry go from here?
When you consider Sonnen’s domination in round one and recognize that his own negligence played a significant role in the stoppage, a future victory over Silva is at least conceivable. With that being said, Silva has now defeated Sonnen on two separate occasions. This alone should trump any argument in support of an additional rematch.
Of course, there are always exceptions. As demonstrated by Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock, MMA fans possess an unquenchable thirst for rivalries predicated upon legitimate revulsion. A third contest between Silva and Sonnen could be justified (and marketable) if the lingering hatred is perceived as genuine.
Sadly, that possibility was curbed in a sentimental post-fight interview. Silva’s comments even suggested the prolonged war-of-words may have been rooted in promotion, rather than disdain. If that’s true, the Sonnen/Silva rivalry is certainly over.
And for UFC fans, that’s unfortunate.
One year ago, the company proudly boasted three high-profile, long-term rivalries. With Sonnen/Silva, Lesnar/Mir and Edgard/Maynard, the UFC was blessed with storylines that engaged fans and stimulated discourse on a daily basis.
Today, with the possible exception of Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, the UFC finds itself without an exciting, big-ticket rivalry. When you consider the injuries to Cruz and Georges St. Pierre, the personal issues of Jon Jones, and the uncertain future of Anderson Silva, the immediate establishment of a new, intriguing rivalry is unlikely at best.
Ultimately, UFC 148 will likely be remembered as the night Anderson Silva silenced Chael Sonnen. But, more importantly, it may be remembered as the death of the high-profile, long-term rivalry.
Joe Silva, please bring back the hype.