It takes more than two consecutive ass-kickings to keep a good Gangster down. As I [*cough cough*] PREDICTED, Chael Sonnen has no plans to retire following his recent title-fight loss to Jon Jones, and the American Gangster even has a name in mind for his rebound fight: Wanderlei Silva.
Bruised but in high spirits, Sonnen returned to the UFC Tonight studios yesterday where he discussed the experience of fighting Jones (“like getting into a bear cage”), the slightly-controversial stoppage (Sonnen says he was still defending himself when the referee stepped in), and the prospect of winning the light-heavyweight championship on a toe-related technicality (“I’d have walked out of there to the boos…and I’d never look back!”).
Later in the segment, Kenny Florian asked Sonnen the question on everyone’s mind — is this the end for our hero? Sonnen had this to say…
“I will definitely continue, and at 205 pounds, unless they come up with a catchweight — and they have a couple of guys they let do that. I know Rich Franklin’s fought at catchweights a bunch, it’s very rare that you do that. But I’m not going to be in contendership any time soon, and neither is Rich Franklin or a pool of other guys. So there is a little bit of room where we could meet in the middle. And now that I’ve dropped Rich’s name, this wasn’t my way of challenging Rich, I was speaking to the point of the catchweight situation. So yeah, I’m going to stick around. I keep getting asked the retirement question…I’m 36 years old, and at that age and this point of your career, you’re just going to get asked that question. I have a lot of goals I want to achieve still, and retirement won’t help me get that done…
“My problem at 185 [pounds] is there was no one left to fight. I had fought everybody in the top ten including the champion a couple of times, and I just wasn’t going to get that opportunity again, and I didn’t want to be one of the guys. So I move up to 205 to get a fresh coat of paint and start over. Well now I got a problem there too, as I fought the champion, it wasn’t a competitive enough match to warrant doing it again. So what do I do? And the thing for me at this point, it was just a lot better experience not having to get that weight off. I’d rather give up the size but have a smile on my face. I could be talked into going back down a weight class — if that’s where the fights are, that’s where the fights are. But you know, the landscape changes quickly, so my opinion and my answer to you could change quickly too, but let’s see what happens. I think there’s gonna be a big shakeup July 4th weekend when Weidman gets his hands on Anderson.”
On the topic of who his next opponent could be, Florian floated the names Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, and it was clear which way Sonnen was leaning:
“As far as Wanderlei goes, he’s called me out before, and I’ve called him out, but the fight never really made sense — I was a contender, and he was just a guy on the card — and now I think the fight does make a little bit more sense. I’m not leaving this sport. Whenever I get asked about retirement, I never say it, but I always think it: I’m not going anywhere until me and Wanderlei straighten this thing out once and for all…
Wanderlei pulled a real dirtbag move on me one time. We’re in a van together, he mutters something at me, I can’t understand what he’s saying for the life — you know, truly, I can’t understand it. He then puts it on YouTube, with subtitles, because he knows that I can’t understand him. So he puts it in these subtitles, I don’t know if that’s what he said or not, but essentially he tells me off and it looks as though I’m conceding to him. If you’re a fighter, that doesn’t fly. If a guy calls you out, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a van or not, you must respond to him. I’m ready to respond, Wanderlei.”
Wanderlei Silva most recently won Knockout of the Night and Fight of the Night honors for his frenzied brawl against Brian Stann at UFC on FUEL 8 in March, where he competed as a light-heavyweight — and the Axe-Murderer’s next dance partner hasn’t been determined yet. So yes, the matchup would make a lot of sense. But would you want to see it? And how would that fight shake out?