“I think the rematch would look just like the first one, except I’ve got a game plan for Chael to finish him before the end of the third round. So, yeah it’ll look similar to their first encounter, but with some additional techniques and strategy, it won’t make it to the championship rounds… We do not employ BJJ. We employ American wrestling submissions… we would employ a submission hold finish or some vicious ground ‘n’ pound to finish that fight.”

— Chael Sonnen’s trainer Matt Lindland telling the Bleacher Report he has a strategy to finish Anderson Silva before the fourth round

Some of you will probably hate me for this, but I’m going to say it anyways. This is Chael Sonnen’s fight to lose.

Rib injury or not, Anderson Silva has never had great takedown defense and that hasn’t changed since Sonnen took him down at will in their first meeting. Even if Silva’s sharper than he was at UFC 117, the only way he’s going to stop Sonnen’s takedowns is by knocking him out on his feet first. This is Anderson Silva we’re talking about, so it’s certainly a possibility, but not probable given Sonnen’s ability to absorb a tremendous amount of damage. We may not see Sonnen catch Silva by surprise and outstrike him like we did last year, but I just don’t see how Silva stays off his back without running or dropping Sonnen first.

Assuming it does go to the ground, Silva could always catch Sonnen in a submission off his back again, but I’m sure Sonnen will be working extra hard in camp on staying out of the riskier positions much like Brock Lesnar did when he fought Frank Mir the second time. If Sonnen can get a finish out of it, good on him, but another dominant five-round performance sans the triangle of course will also do the trick and win him the “12 pounds of gold.”

Image via FIGHT! Magazine