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Chael Sonnen mocks Wanderlei Silva at press conference; leads to heated faceoff

Esther Lin

LAS VEGAS -- For half an hour Friday, Wanderlei Silva sat there and took Chael Sonnen's taunts.

"I know what he's thinking now, he's asking himself ‘uuhhh, is there a number higher than 11?" Sonnen mocked during the UFC 175 press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Later, noting that Silva, whom Sonnen will face in Vegas on July 5, was using a translator, Sonnen said "My pet idiot has been here since 1999 and he's never used an interpreter until today."

The event was open to the public, and the crowd roared with each Sonnen barb. The former longtime PRIDE middleweight champion stewed while Sonnen used him as a human punchline, even holding Silva's own title credentials against him.

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"I was sitting at home scratching and clawing trying to make it, Sonnen said. "I was fighting at the dog park, I'm fighting anywhere I'm getting a chance, and I'm watching this knucklehead coming out of Japan wearing his belt, I thought I want to kick that guy's ass. He wouldn't have been the champion if I was in PRIDE."

Finally, by the end of the festivities, Silva had enough. When the two were squared off for staredown photos, Silva smiled and jawed at Sonnen. Sonnen mocked Silva; Silva turned angry; UFC president Dana White tried to separate the two, but Silva didn't leave before trying to make an end around White's back.

Such is the state of this long and curious rivalry, one which has been teased for a couple years, but will finally happen in about six weeks.

Well, officially, at least. Sonnen and Silva, of course, had an unofficial go at it on the set of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, a confrontation for which UFC president Dana White was all but apologizing on Friday.

"I don't fault either one of these guys," White said. "These guys don't like each other ... the people who were running the production in Brazil, they shouldn't have let this escalate to the point to where the guys where they put their hands on each other. They did that, and that's, it's on us in the end. We take responsibility for that one."

Meanwhile, as Sonnen mocked, Silva appeared to be a ticking time bomb. He dodged questions both about the altercation and about the injury which forced this fight to get moved from a May event in Brazil to Las Vegas.

Asked what he was thinking during the Chael Sonnen show, Silva's message was succinct.

"On fight night I'm going to show that he's going to have to swallow everything he said."

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