The dominant second-round submission win over Brian Stann? It was just the beginning of the Sonnen show. It was what the middleweight contender said afterward that sent a buzz through the MMA world.
"Anderson Silva," Sonnen said, pausing for dramatic effect, "you absolutely suck."
Those are fighting words, but Sonnen wasn't done.
The middleweight champion Silva happened to be at the Toyota Center, and as his face was shown on the replay screens inside the arena, Sonnen issued his challenge.
"Super Bowl weekend, the biggest rematch in the history of the business," he said. "I'm calling you out Silva, but we're upping the stakes. I beat you, you leave the division. You beat me, I will leave the UFC forever."
Upon issuing his pro-wrestling style, loser-leaves-town challenge, he walked out of the cage.
Sonnen had once been scheduled to get that rematch. In August 2010, he beat up Silva for four-and-a-half rounds before falling victim to a triangle choke submission. It was a dramatic finish and a heartbreaker for Sonnen, but afterward, UFC president Dana White quickly decided Sonnen would get a second chance.
But that was scuttled shortly thereafter when Sonnen's pre-fight drug test came back irregular due to an elevated testosterone to estrogen level, indicative of steroid use. Sonnen later revealed he was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy but the California state athletic commission ruled he hadn't properly disclosed it, and he was suspended. Sonnen later had legal woes relating to a federal money laundering charge, and with his compounded problems, Sonnen was shelved by the UFC.
With that, his chance at gold seemed gone. By the time he returned, the UFC middleweight division was not much different. Silva is still at the top. But surging closer was Stann, a former Marine who had mowed through his last two opponents in dominant knockouts.
But for Sonnen, Stann was barely a roadblock. Sonnen took him down repeatedly from the opening bell and held the top position, and in the second, he closed out the show, transitioning to an arm triangle for the finish. That task done, he took no time to turn his attention back to Silva.
"As far as Anderson goes, we're playing for keeps this time," said Sonnen, who claimed he was the rightful champ and his win over Stann was his first successful title defense. "I've had it with this guy, and he's probably had it with me, so let's just figure this thing out once and for all. You heard what I said. My word is good. A deal is a deal and I didn't see him stand up and accept the challenge. If the shoe was on the other foot, I'd come over there and shove the microphone up his ass, if he would've said that to me. But you saw what he did. He sat there, and it was a good move."
White said later that Sonnen's wish would probably be granted.
"More than likely," he said. "I don't like to commit to anything the night of the fight, but I'd be pretty f------ stupid if I don't make that fight."
Even on a night where two titles were defended and Frankie Edgar pulled off one of the most dramatic comeback wins in recent history, all it took was a few choice words for Sonnen to take back the spotlight. The Chael Sonnen show is back, whether Silva and the rest of the MMA word like it or not.
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