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Chael Sonnen: 'Wanderlei Silva is a distraction, no doubt about it'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Chael Sonnen's next fight may not be against Wanderlei Silva, but the way recent headlines have played out, it'd be easy to forget that little detail.

Silva seemingly took great pleasure in ratcheting up the feud between the two fighters with a premeditated scuffle at Saturday's Mr. Olympia Expo. Yet Sonnen, who's already scheduled to meet Rashad Evans at UFC 167, didn't appreciate the Brazilian's antics.

"He's a distraction," Sonnen told "He's a distraction, no doubt about it."

In Evans, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, Sonnen faces potentially the sternest non-title test of his career. That, along with a fulltime analyst gig at FOX Sports 1, means his schedule is busy enough as it is.

But now, on top of everything else, Sonnen will be forced to answer a slew of questions about Silva over the next few months, and he's not happy about it.

"Absolutely (it pisses me off)," Sonnen said. "Wouldn't deny it. It's bizarre.

"It comes back to, on one hand this is pretty weird, man. On the other hand, well done. Well done. You wanted attention. It worked. You're staying in the headlines by staying out of the Octagon. It's very hard to stay in the news when you don't have a fight, and here he is doing it."

While Sonnen insists he wasn't in on the gag, he admits to being extremely surprised that Silva posted the entire encounter on YouTube, particularly considering Sonnen's own less-than-timid reaction to Silva's scare tactics.

"My wife is calling me and my mom is calling me. They're asking me about this because it'd made the internet. I just said, ‘Listen, there's actually a video of this, but you're never going to see it. Whatever reaction Wanderlei Silva and the Backstreet Boys thought they were going to get, they didn't get it,'" Sonnen explained.

"'Once he sees it, he's never going to put it out.' And about two hours later, he put it out. I was just scratching my head. What exactly just happened here?"

Sonnen issued a response to Silva on the subsequent edition of UFC Tonight, because let's face it, of course he did; he's Chael Sonnen.

He also acknowledges that this whole situation may just be a ploy by Silva, a way to drum up major interest and ultimately ink a lucrative pay-per-view deal when the fight inevitably gets booked.

Nonetheless, Sonnen can't help but laugh at Silva's dogged pursuit of a feud, even after the opportunity to actually schedule the fight came and went.

"It's silly. In this sport, you cannot refuse to fight a guy and then come out and talk about that guy," Sonnen explained. "It's like, ‘Listen, Wanderlei. I've said a lot of things about a lot of people, but I'll make that walk every goddamn time.' I will never pull out of a fight. I will never call in sick, and I will never say no. That gives me the right to say the things that I say.

"I get it, he needs media. The UFC can't give it to him because he's not relevant. That's not an insult, that's just the reality. He's just not relevant. He doesn't have a fight coming up.

"But it's bizarre, and it's also very transparent."