The potential for a Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva fight inched a little closer to reality on Wednesday night, but it apparently will hinge on Silva’s health.
Sonnen (29-13-1 MMA, 7-6 UFC), fresh off a big submission win over Mauricio Rua in the main event of UFC Fight Night 26 on Saturday, issued a challenge to his boss, UFC President Dana White, to put the fight against Silva (35-12-1 MMA, 5-7 UFC) together as the co-main event of November’s UFC 167 card.
While White was an in-studio guest on Wednesday’s “FOX Sports Live,” a taped video was played wherein Sonnen, who also works as a UFC analyst for FOX Sports and as co-host of “UFC Tonight,” asked White to make the fight.
“Dana, it is no secret that I am the biggest draw and the highest paid athlete in the UFC, and the only person that comes close to rivaling me is Georges St-Pierre,” Sonnen said. “And as I see it, in November, when he takes on Johny Hendricks live and in Las Vegas – tickets on sale now – he does not have a co-main event. I ask that you put me and Wanderlei Silva on that card.”
UFC 167 takes place Nov. 16 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and St-Pierre defends his welterweight title against Hendricks on pay-per-view.
Sonnen also referenced comments Silva made that he would be willing to bet $100,000 on Rua, his fellow Brazilian, against Sonnen. Sonnen submitted “Shogun” with a first-round guillotine choke in the main event at TD Garden in Boston.
“He said last week publicly that he would bet $100,000 on ‘Shogun’ against me,” Sonnen said. “I came out publicly and accepted that bet. He has yet to pay up. I am asking that $50,000 go to the Hire Heroes Foundation headed by Brian Stann and the other $50,000 go to the bombing victims of Boston. I don’t know if he’s a welcher – I believe he will pay up. But either way, I ask you, Dana White, my plea to you: Please, put this fight together.”
For his part, White said it’s a fight he would like to make – if Silva is healthy.
“Well, there you go,” White said. “We can do that fight. The question, I think, is Wanderlei Silva is out until the beginning of the year. I’m not sure if he’s healthy. But if he’s healthy, I will definitely make that fight, and I will definitely make it the co-main event.”
Silva in March knocked out Stann in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 8 in Japan. He won both “Knockout of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” bonuses for the performance at light heavyweight.
Sonnen fought Rua at light heavyweight, but did not indicate if he would want a fight against Silva, also a former middleweight, to take place back at 185 pounds, at 205 or at a catchweight.
Silva has bounced between wins and losses the past four years. His return to the UFC in 2007 started with a “Fight of the Year” loss to Chuck Liddell, and after beating Keith Jardine, he dropped fights to Quinton Jackson and Rich Franklin. He rebounded by beating Michael Bisping, but was knocked out by Chris Leben after that. He won “Fight of the Night” for his TKO of Cung Le at UFC 139, won another bonus in a loss to Franklin at UFC 147, and then returned to the win column against Stann.
Sonnen snapped a two-fight skid with his win over Rua. Before that, he had lost a light heavyweight title fight to champ Jon Jones and a middleweight title fight to then-champ Anderson Silva.
For more on UFC 167, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Chael Sonnen)