There was a time when the thought of Chael Sonnen in Brazil was good ol’ diabolical fun. That was back when the UFC was trying (somewhat) desperately to find a venue to house the second Sonnen-Anderson Silva encounter, and the "Gangster from West Linn" had already pissed off Brazilians for his comments towards Silva, towards all other Silvas, all the Nogueiras, all cariocas in general, every football team from Flamengo to Vasco de Gama, and anybody residing within earshot of the Amazon.
Back then, it was like he was going to be lowered into Brazil for a one-of-a-kind comeuppance -- like he was going there to meet his certain doom. It had a Man Against the World flare to it. The thing was poetic, but it never came off. At least not in Brazil. It happened, less dramatically, in Las Vegas instead.
You know what though? Better late than never.
Dana White revealed Monday night on Fox Sports Live that Sonnen would coach opposite Wanderlei Silva on the next edition of TUF: Brazil. Taping starts in January. And this one is all about slaking that bloodthirst, baby!
Silva and Sonnen have been most uncivil with one another going back to the good old days when Sonnen was lugging around that fake belt. Though he has a fight with Rashad Evans on the immediate horizon at UFC 167, Sonnen eggs the thing along each time he appears on UFC Tonight with little Wandy-barbs heading into commercial breaks.
And Silva? Bro, Silva keeps pumping out colorless videos where he speaks Portuguese into a camera directly to Sonnen, huffily pointing his finger into the lens while a guitar solo wails hideously in the offing. This is meant to be ominous.
Whether it comes off that way or not these back-and-forth antics make the situation simple. These guys need to fight.
Soon enough, at long last, they will. Right after they coach against one another down in Brazil with a group of up-and-coming pawn pieces in which to enact their rivalry vicariously. There will be cheap frills here, and some guilty pleasure. But in terms of keeping good marketable company men relevant? This is really the appropriate way to go about it for everyone involved.
Nobody in North America (with the exception of MMA Junkie’s John Morgan) watched the first two seasons of TUF: Brazil. That changes with the addition of Sonnen, against his arch-nemesis Wanderlei. Just booking the two for a fight would have been good enough. But to have Sonnen in Brazil -- "with security," as Dana White assured him during that meta-reveal on FOX Sports Live -- makes for good television.
And TUF is the appropriate kind of set-up for guys who feast on extended drama. Sonnen, who knows how to push buttons. And Wanderlei who blows cartoon fire from his top and temples when his buttons are pushed. It’s hard not to love the comical upside here. That there's a fight attached to it makes it all the better.