LAS VEGAS // UFC champion Anderson Silva has retained his middleweight title with a second round TKO victory over bitter rival Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 - but not without a struggle.
The Brazilian star, unbeaten in 15 fights going into the heated bout in Las Vegas, capitalised after Sonnen missed a spinning back fist and lost his balance, with Silva following up with a knee and a number of heavy punches to his downed foe.
Referee Yves Lavigne stopped the bout with just under two minutes of the second round gone, to give the 37-year-old victory in his 10th title defence in the UFC.
Sonnen had controlled the first round, taking Silva down early in the round and keeping him pinned to the ground, utilising the superior wrestling skills that had put Silva on the back foot in their first bout two years ago.
The second round was more even, with Silva looking for an early clinch, then blocking Sonnen's attempts as the American muscled his opponent around the ring.
The finish was not without controversy after suggestions the knee may have been aimed at Sonnen's head - illegal on a downed opponent - but Lavigne indicated afterwards he felt the knee's trajectory was towards the fighter's chest.
Both men were clearly fired up for the bout, following almost two years of trash talking and comments which had built the long-anticipated rematch up to being one of UFC's biggest fights of all time.
Afterwards, a shell-shocked looking Sonnen admitted: "He's a true champion."
Silva urged the large numbers of Brazilian supporters in the crowd to applaud his rival, despite Sonnen's comments about his country, to show that the people of Brazil 'have manners'.
Elsewhere on the card veteran MMA star Tito Ortiz lost his retirement bout from the sport with a unanimous points defeat to Forrest Griffin.
Both men had controversial victories over each other going into the rubber match, but a clearly emotional Ortiz looked to gas early on in the bout.
He still managed to land strong punches on former Light Heavyweight champion Griffin, but the younger man controlled much of the pace of the bout, finding his distance with leg kicks and punches to keep a tired Ortiz at bay.
Elsewhere on the card, Cung Le won a unanimous judges decision over Patrick Cote, while Demian Maia scored a 47 second victory over Dong Hyum Kim after the Korean star looked to break a rib while being taken down.
Chad Mendes recorded a quick win over submission specialist Cody McKenzie after dropping him with a body punch counter to a kick to score victory in just 30s, while Ivan Menjivar lost his fight against Mike Easton on points.
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