RIO DE JANEIRO — Chael Sonnen submitted Mauricio Rua in one of his biggest wins in the UFC, and now meets “Shogun's" longtime friend and former training partner Wanderlei Silva at Bellator’s New York debut on June 24.
Rua, who lost to Sonnen via first-round submission in 2013, sends his friend some advice ahead of his long-awaited return to MMA.
"Don’t be nervous,” Rua told reporters in a media scrum during UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "When I fought Sonnen, I made a mistake. I should have waited for the first round to be over, but I wanted to reverse the position with 10 seconds left.
"You have to be patient. Sonnen has good takedowns, and if he takes you down, be patient.”
Sonnen and Silva were expected to meet in the UFC in 2014, but the fight never materialized. Their rivalry got even bigger years later, and “Shogun” believes that all the bad blood will help “The Axe Murderer” when the fight starts.
"I think that’s good for Wanderlei because he loves rivalries. He seeks that,” Rua said. "I don’t know if Sonnen can handle this pressure. Wanderlei is f***ing great. Wanderlei is a guy that brings this rivalry to the cage."
Silva hasn’t fought since 2013, when he scored a second-round knockout over Brian Stann in Japan. Sonnen, who lost to Tito Ortiz in his Bellator debut earlier this year, also hasn’t won a fight since his 2013 victory over Rua.
For “Shogun”, Bellator 180 will end with a beating.
"(Silva wins) by knockout,” Rua said. "Wanderlei has heavy hands. I know them really well [laughs]. If Wanderlei can trade a little bit, he can get the knockout."