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Return to UFC
Following the dissolution of WEC's Middleweight division, Sonnen returned to the UFC.
In his first fight for the promotion since UFC 60, he was submiited by jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia via triangle choke at UFC 95.
At UFC 98 in May 2009, Sonnen defeated Dan Miller via unanimous decision. He was a late replacement for Yushin Okami, who tore ligament while training. He took the fight on 22 days notice, and lost 36 pounds in order to compete.
In his next fight, at UFC 104, Sonnen outwrestled Okami for a unanimous decision victory.
Sonnen was expected to face Nate Marquardt at UFC 110, but the fight was moved to UFC 109 on February 6. Sonnen won a unanimous 30-27 decision, after escaping two deep guillotine chokes in the first and third rounds. With the victory, Sonnen became the number one contender for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Silva vs Sonnen
Sonnen landed 320 strikes against Silva, the most since Royce Gracie landed 335 strikes over Ken Shamrock at UFC 5.
At UFC 117 on August 7, 2010, Sonnen challenged Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Sonnen had trash talked to hype the fight, stating he was going to retire Silva. Heading into the fifth round, Sonnen led on the judges' scorecards (40–34, 40–35, and 40-36). At 3:10 into the final round, Silva caught Sonnen in a triangle armbar and made him tap out. In a later interview, Sonnen stated it was the choke, not the armbar, that made him submit.[citation needed