Chael Sonnen reveals key reason behind his fifth-round downfall in first Anderson Silva fight

As one of the most articulate figures in MMA, Chael Sonnen will engage you in just about any conversation you’d want to have about the sport. But don’t ask him to sit down and walk you through one of his old fights.

Three-time UFC title challenger Sonnen (31-17-1 MMA, 7-7 UFC) was the first guest on MMA Junkie’s new series, “Legend 2 Legend,” as he joined former UFC site coordinator Burt Watson to shoot the breeze on a wide range of topics. But perhaps the most interesting tidbit from their conversation was the revelation that Sonnen had never watched back his infamous UFC 117 defeat to Anderson Silva.

In fact, he said he has never watched back any of his fights.

“I never watch any of my fights over,” he admitted to Watson. “It’s a weakness. I’d be better off if I did, but I never do. It makes my stomach nervous, my hands get sweaty – even if I know the outcome. I’ve never watched that fight, and I don’t think I ever will.”

Watson and Sonnen chatted about “The Gangster’s” memorable first clash with Silva as he dominated “The Spider” through four rounds before dramatically being submitted with just 70 seconds remaining in Oakland in August, 2010.

It was a moment that has stood the test of time as one of the most dramatic finishes to a title fight in UFC history, but Sonnen revealed a little-known wrinkle to the story that left Watson stunned.

“OK, so that was my first time in the fifth round. I had been scheduled for two other fights that were five-round contests in the WEC, (but) we never saw all five rounds, though. So it was my first time in the fifth round,” he explained. “The reason I bring that up is when you talk about running out of gas, I can tell you I was for sure very tired. Now, I don’t ever remember having a fight in my life where I left with any energy. I used it all, and I’m used to being tired. But this maybe was another level.

“I do remember one thing, which was in the fifth round – which I had never been to before – the corner had told me before the round that it was the fourth round, that we had two rounds to go. And I only bring that up to you because I have often wondered would I have done something different if I knew there was only a minute left? A minute left and I’m gonna be the world champion as opposed to a whole other round. That isn’t an attempt to blame the corner, I’m just sharing a story with you about that specific moment.”

It meant that, rather than looking to round off what was looking set to be a landslide decision victory on the scorecards, Sonnen continued to push the pace on Silva and was eventually caught in a triangle armbar that forced the tap at the 3:10 mark of the fifth and final round. It meant that Sonnen’s shot at glory fell agonizingly short as Silva made the seventh successful defense of the UFC middleweight title.

“Five isn’t all that big of a number, but when you’ve never been in the five-round club before it’s a very unique experience,” he continued. “You can look at fighters that have been doing this 20-25 years – Vitor Belfort comes to mind, absolute legend, world champion, will be in the Hall of Fame. He is not in the five-round club. He has never gone five rounds, and I don’t suspect he ever will. It’s a very rare club. Not many guys ever main event or have a title fight (or) are ever put in five rounds, let alone go the duration.

“I did lose track of the rounds. I didn’t really know where I was and he hadn’t hit me that many times, but every time he hit me, it affected me. So between all of the chaos that goes on, (I) lost track of the rounds and it was a choke – it wasn’t an armbar – that made me tap. I didn’t really know where I was. … It’s one of these things that, when you start to go out, even if it’s for half a second, it could be five minutes. It’s kind of like when you go to sleep at night. Have I been asleep five hours? Have I been asleep five minutes? You have to look at a clock.

“It’s kind of one of those strange moments and I’ve never seen the fight.”

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