In what will be just seven weeks since losing a light heavyweight title fight against Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen reportedly will return and save the co-main event spot at UFC 161.
Sonnen (27-13-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC), according to a report from Globo, will step up to meet Mauricio Rua (21-7 MMA, 5-5 UFC) in the co-main event of the card later this month in Canada. “Shogun” was in need of an opponent once Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) dropped off the card with a back injury.
UFC officials, however, could not yet confirm the report to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) early Monday afternoon.
UFC 161 takes place June 15 at MTS Centre in Winnipeg. It will be the UFC’s first trip to the Canadian province of Manitoba. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.
The card’s main event was hit by injury this past month when interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao was forced out of a title fight against Eddie Wineland with a foot injury. That moved a light heavyweight bout between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans into the main event spot. Now Sonnen apparently will step up to save the co-feature on account of Nogueira’s injury.
Sonnen has lost two straight – both title fights. Eleven months ago, he lost his rematch to middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 148 in Las Vegas. Then he announced a move to light heavyweight and got a spot coaching “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Jones this past Season 17. He lost by first-round TKO to Jones at UFC 159 in Newark, N.J., in late April.
Rua, a former light heavyweight champ currently ranked No. 8 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA light-heavyweight rankings, will be looking to get back in the win column after a December loss to Alexander Gustafsson. Although he hasn’t had a win streak since 2009, it should be noted that he’s never lost back-to-back fights, either. After a controversial decision loss to Lyoto Machida in a 205-pound title fight at UFC 104, he won their rematch to win the belt at UFC 113. But he surrendered it to Jones in March 2011.
Since then, “Shogun” has alternated wins and losses, beating Forrest Griffin and Brandon Vera, but losing to Henderson and Gustafsson.
For the latest on UFC 161, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Chael Sonnen)