As is usually the case with Chael Sonnen, the money quote was buried layers deep.

The UFC's master manipulator said all the right things after taking a thumping from Jon Jones on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 159. He spoke with eloquence about his conqueror's skills and strongly hinted it might be time to consider hanging them up, even though he never used the word "retirement."

"I'm not going to be one of the guys who hangs around if he doesn't have a road to the title," Sonnen said in his post-fight interview with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan. "I believe that was my last opportunity." 

But there's always an angle with the pride of West Linn, Ore. Sonnen's improbable, late-career run from mid-card castoff to pay-per-view titan came about through equal parts skills inside the Octagon and opportunism outside.

When Chael Sonnen speaks, people listen. Then they try to figure out the hustle.

In this case, the genesis of Sonnen's next chapter was buried in this little gem dropped into the post-fight news conference at Newark's Prudential Center:

"I'm terrible," Sonnen said. "I lost to (Jones and middleweight champion Anderson Silva). What are they going to do? Put me in with Wanderlei Silva? Who else am I supposed to beat around here?"

Sonnen doesn't drop names out of the blue. Wanderlei Silva, the former PRIDE 205-pound champion and a beloved legend of the game, is exactly the type of fight that can keep Sonnen in the headlines and atop a big fight card.

Presenting Silva's name into the middle of his post-fight soliloquy was Sonnen's way of pushing the ball forward at the same time he came to grips with the fact he's never going to get the gold strap.

[Related: Jon Jones beats Chael Sonnen at his own game; super fight looming?]

With the loss to Jones on Saturday, Sonnen dropped to 0-3 in UFC title fights, putting him in the company of Kenny Florian and Pedro Rizzo. It was the latest setback in a career which has cast Sonnen as the combat sports equivalent of the pre-2004 Boston Red Sox: Usually good, sometimes great, but unable to get the job done when it mattered most.

Sonnen was runner-up at the Pac-10 wrestling championships in 1999 and 2001. Runner-up at the 1998 world university Greco-Roman championships. U.S. Olympic wrestling alternate. Loser in his WEC middleweight title challenge against Paulo Filho, twice a loser to Anderson Silva, and a loser to Jones.

"You know what? When I get in there, I just want to know who's better," Sonnen said. "I just want to feel these other guys. I want to see what the hype's about. If they would have called it, I wouldn't have had any illusions. I knew in those first five minutes who the better fighter was."

Had Sonnen managed to ride out the storm and get through the final half-minute of the opening round, chances are, he would have went home to Oregon with the UFC light heavyweight title belt in his possession. There was little chance Jones would have been cleared to continue in Round 2 with the grotesque compound fracture of his left big toe, which would have meant a flimsy TKO victory for Sonnen.

But as of Saturday night, at least, Sonnen was having none of that talk.

"I'm sure it would have gone to a rematch and we'd have had to do that again, because it would only have been right to Jon. But I got my questions answered tonight. I've had a lot of fights, and they haven't all gone my way," But I've only been beaten up twice and that was No. 2. And he beat me at my own game. It's frustrating and it's tough. That's it."

"I had to watch the replay. He was in on my leg before I knew it. I don't know how he set it up, if he threw a punch. I don't know what happened. He was just on my leg. I've been in that spot my whole life. I got up and he hit it again, and I got up and he hit it again. I've only been taken down three times in my career. He took me down three times in one round."

[Related: Jon Jones makes quick work of Chael Sonnen, suffers gruesome injury]

While Sonnen certainly appears to be making peace with the fact he's never going to be champion, he also remains a fighter who hasn't lost a non-title fight since 2009. Take it back to the summer of 2006 and his record in non-championship tilts is 12-1.

Once the sting of coming up short in his title quest wears off, it's hard to believe that the carnival barker side of Sonnen won't realize that he's still got a lot of legs left as a big-money headliner when presented with the right matchups. And Sonnen the competitor will realize that even if he keeps placing second on the biggest stage, the silver medalist is still in a better position than the rest of the pack.

Which brings us back to Sonnen's comment on Wanderlei Silva. The two already have a history of trading barbs back and forth. Sonnen is public enemy No. 1 among Brazilian MMA fans. Silva is coming off his most exciting victory in years, his recent TKO of Brian Stann in Japan.

Sounds like the recipe for a main event. Sounds like Sonnen is still a step ahead of the game.

Related UFC video on Yahoo! Sports

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Packers announce long-term contract extension for Aaron Rodgers
Thunder's Russell Westbrook out for season after knee surgery
Rick Pitino follows through, gets tattoo
Two RCR crewmembers arrested after post-race fight

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Trading Shots: Do accusations of a fix tell us what fans really think of Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen?

  • 29 days ago
  • 48 views

Many fans thought something fishy was going on with Tito Ortiz's submission win over Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170. But does that tell us more about what they think of the two men involved than about read news >>

Tito Ortiz and Dana White Buried the Hatchet Following Retirement Bout | MMAWeekly.com

  • 28 days ago
  • 34 views

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz and UFC president Dana White have had an up-and-down relationship, but buried that hatchet on Saturday. read news >>

Weighing the Options of Chael Sonnen | FIGHTLAND

  • 27 days ago
  • 3 views

Photos via facebook/BellatorMMA? 2016 was a banner year for Bellator—arguably the best in its history. Over the course of the year, the promotion picked up a procession of high profile free agents, s read news >>

Chael Sonnen Gets Fired From "Celebrity Apprentice" for Acting Like Donald Trump | FIGHTLAND

  • 26 days ago
  • 8 views

Screenshot via YouTube/The Apprentice This past Monday on Celebrity Apprentice, former UFC star Chael Sonnen bought his struggling team some extra time to complete a challenge by “creating” a “techni read news >>

John McCarthy wishes he could put fight-fix accusers in choke Tito Ortiz used to tap Chael Sonnen

  • 26 days ago
  • 413 views

There are some people who just want to create controversy, longtime MMA referee “Big” John McCarthy said about those who called a fix in the headliner of this past Saturday’s Bellator 170.Filed under read news >>

Tito Ortiz Blasts the Haters Who Claim Fix in Chael Sonnen Fight (video) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 26 days ago
  • 21 views

For those that think the his fight with Chael Sonnen was a work, Tito Ortiz has a strong message. read news >>

UFC on FOX 23's Nate Marquardt talks staving off retirement, fighting former training partner in Alvey

  • 26 days ago
  • 6 views

DENVER – It wasn’t that long ago that Nate Marquardt was ready to hang up his gloves and move on to something else. Filed under: News, UFC, Videos read news >>

For Chael Sonnen All That's Left Is Making the Walk

  • 26 days ago
  • 0 views

Chael P. Sonnen returned to mixed martial arts knowing that as long as he made that walk to the cage, everything would sort itself out. Sonnen has described this march like some kind of a ritual, and read news >>

Chael Sonnen Gets Fired From "Celebrity Apprentice" for Acting Like Donald Trump | FIGHTLAND

  • 26 days ago
  • 1 views

Screenshot via YouTube/The Apprentice This past Monday on Celebrity Apprentice, former UFC star Chael Sonnen bought his struggling team some extra time to complete a challenge by “creating” a “techni read news >>

UFC Fight Night 105's Johny Hendricks now serious about retirement talk if 185 doesn't work out

  • 25 days ago
  • 12 views

Johny Hendricks has talked about the possibility of retirement before. It came recently, in fact.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>