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Anderson Silva back to being himself after dispatching Chael Sonnen at UFC 148

Silva won’t comment on potential for superfight against Jon Jones or any other opponent

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Associated Press

Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen battle it out during their UFC 148 middleweight championship fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday, July 7, 2012 in Las Vegas. Silva won with a TKO in the second round. (AP Photo/David Becker)

UFC 148: Undercards

John Alessio gets tied up by Shane Roller during their preliminary bout at UFC 148 Saturday, July 7, 2012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Roller won by decision. Launch slideshow »

UFC 148

Champion Anderson Silva smiles while Chael Sonnen is attended to after Silva scored a second round TKO during their fight at UFC 148 Saturday, July 7, 2012. Launch slideshow »

UFC 148: Griffin vs. Ortiz

Forrest Griffin nails Tito Ortiz with a left during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 148 Saturday, July 7, 2012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Griffin won a unanimous decision in what was Ortiz's retirement fight. Launch slideshow »

UFC 148: Le vs. Cote

Cung Le reacts as he is announced the winner over Patrick Cote during their middleweight bout at UFC 148 Saturday, July 7, 2012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Le won by unanimous decision. Launch slideshow »

Like a wild animal that camouflages itself until it’s out of danger, Anderson Silva reverted to his original form immediately after beating Chael Sonnen at UFC 148.

Gone were the scowls, the drawn-out proclamations of anger and the excuses for one subpar performance. Returned were the grins, the one-word answers and the modest responses after getting showered with praise.

“I’m very happy right now that I was able to go in there and put on a great performance,” Silva said through a translator. “Chael came very well prepared and I was able to put on a performance not only for everyone in the arena, but everyone watching UFC all over the world.”

Silva achieved exactly what most thought he would when he first met Sonnen for the middleweight championship two years ago Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. He left the challenger in the same incoherent state on the ground as so many of his other opponents over a 15-year mixed martial arts career.

Although he lost the first round in lopsided fashion by getting taken down and controlled, Silva responded by swarming Sonnen with strikes until the referee pulled him off to signal a TKO victory at 1:51 of the second round.

“Chael came prepared, he came 100 percent,” Silva said. “He did what he did best and took me down. What we trained was to be prepared for this.”

Despite everything Sonnen said to rile up Silva before the fight, the champion let it go afterwards. He wrapped his arm around Sonnen in the octagon and invited him to a barbecue.

After the two emerged an hour later in the press conference, Silva continued to pass on any opportunity to drop an “I told you so”-like line. When asked if he still had negative feelings for Sonnen, whom he told less than two weeks ago would get all of his teeth broken in their fight, Silva shook his head.

“I thought it was very nice of him,” Sonnen said of Silva’s post-fight demeanor. “It’s very important when you lose a fight you don’t say things like, ‘my opponent was better tonight.' The better guy wins every time. The better guy won tonight.”

But Silva is fooling himself if he truly believes this win is just another one in his record-shattering stretch of 15 straight UFC victories and 10 consecutive title defenses.

To most, Sonnen represented the last major challenge for Silva in the middleweight division. Although the champion already defeated him once, Sonnen nearly took Silva’s will by landing a record amount of strikes and coming two minutes away from the historic upset in August 2010.

Everyone at the MGM had flashbacks to that night when Sonnen planted Silva on his back and threw ground-and-pound for the opening five minutes Saturday.

“The only difference this time was I wasn’t hurt,” Silva said. “I knew I would come back in the second round and do what I had to do.”

In breaking with tradition, Sonnen wouldn’t contest anything Silva said. He emphasized the importance of staggering Silva with a big shot in the first round, but Sonnen felt he wasn’t able to do it.

Sonnen made a mistake in the second round by slipping for a split-second after throwing a spinning back fist. Such miscues can’t come against champions, and it gave Silva the opening that led to the closing sequence of the fight.

If there’s a single bout favored to define Silva’s career, it’s the second match with Sonnen.

“I’m in awe of this guy,” UFC President Dana White said. “I’ve said it for a long time, I think he’s the greatest fighter to ever be involved in mixed martial arts. This guy does things to people that other people can’t do.”

Silva turned 37 years old three months ago, leading some to believe his days in the sport are numbered. Therefore, it would make sense to book him in blockbuster matches while his earning potential and draw remain at their highest.

A hypothetical bout against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is the one fight the UFC could make that everyone wants to see. But, as is normal for Silva, he refused to publicly address anything about future opponents.

“Are you sure you want to hear my answer?” Silva said when asked about who he wanted to fight next.

White told him to go ahead, the whole room was dying to hear it.

“My clone,” Silva said.

It’s a line that Silva has used for years, but the kind of remark he had stashed away before fighting Sonnen.

“That’s right,” White said. “I forgot about that.”

It was easy to forget about all of Silva’s usual quirks with Sonnen around. Now that he’s out of the way, Silva can act natural again.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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