Despite the fact Chael Sonnen has a main-event fight against Mauricio Rua lined up for Saturday, it seems people are more interested in who Sonnen will fight after “Shogun.”
Many are eager to see a matchup with former PRIDE champion Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC MMA, 5-7 UFC), a fighter who has exchanged words with Sonnen (27-13-1 MMA, 6-6 UFC) for years with talk ramping up in recent weeks.
In the days leading up to UFC Fight Night 26, where he fights Rua at TD Garden in Boston, Sonnen has said publicly he wants Silva next. However, he doesn’t believe the Brazilian would ever put pen to paper and sign a bout agreement.
For someone on a two-fight losing streak, Silva believes Sonnen is in no position to make assumptions as to what fights he would or would not accept.
“This is a joke – he’s a clown,” Silva told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) in response to Sonnen’s statements. “He’s a second-level fighter. He’s not Top 10 – he’s not a top fighter. He can’t say anything about that because he’s not in the position. His results don’t give him the right to talk like that.”
Before any real conversations regarding the potential grudge match can be had, Sonnen must first get past Rua, a former UFC light heavyweight champion who is eager to get back in the win column after losing to top contender Alexander Gustafsson this past December.
Rua is a dangerous opponent with a legitimate chance of handing Sonnen his third consecutive defeat, something Silva is so certain will take place that he is willing to wager a significant amount of money on it.
“‘Shogun’ can beat him anywhere. In the standup or on the ground – he can submit and he can knock out,” Silva said. “I don’t see any chance for Sonnen in that fight. I don’t gamble, but I talked to my wife. I want to put $100,000 on ‘Shogun.’”
While Silva has an obvious bias towards Rua due to their close relationship, he believes a gap in skill will be too much for Sonnen to overcome and believes the level of violence his countryman brings to the table will not only be enough to get the win, but perhaps force the 36-year-old Sonnen into retirement.
“‘Shogun’ is going to hurt him,” he said. “I think it’s maybe going to be Sonnen’s last fight. He’s not going to fight after that fight anymore.”
The main event of Saturday’s fight card from TD Garden in Boston is “Shogun” vs. Sonnen. But as UFC President Dana White said Thursday, Silva was originally offered the slot opposite Sonnen, but turned it down due to injury.
While Silva wouldn’t have been fit to fight at Saturday’s event, he revealed he is now back to proper health and eyeing a return to the cage by the end of 2013.
“I had a problem with my sciatic in this last fight and the pain comes, the pain goes,” Silva said. “I don’t have that problem anymore and I’m ready to get back.”
Silva knows fans are clamoring to see him sort out his differences with Sonnen inside the octagon, and regardless of the outcome against Rua, “The Axe Murderer” is eager to give the people what they want.
But more than anything, he finally wants to settle the score with Sonnen and make him regret ever speaking ill of him.
“When I fight with him, it’s going to be a great fight, it’s going to be a good match,” Silva said. “But when I fight with him, he’s going to know what’s going to happen.
“I’m not going to just fight. I’m going to hurt him.”
For the latest on UFC Fight Night 26, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Wanderlei Silva)