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UFC: What’s Next for Chael Sonnen?


After being finished in consecutive title fights at two different weight classes, Chael Sonnen has finally gotten himself back on track, picking up an impressive and much-needed win against a former world champion. Shogun’s best days may be behind him, but the victory is a sweet one nonetheless. For all of the things Sonnen has said about a certain populous South American country, he had never actually beaten any Brazilians inside the octagon before. That’s changed now, and things have become more personal. We already saw Wanderlei Silva’s reaction to Sonnen’s victory, and we can only imagine that many of his countrymen are feeling the same way. It remains to be seen whether Chael will ever put his name back into title consideration, but at the very least there are some intriguing matches to be made against top Brazilian fighters.

Following Sonnen’s UFC Fight Night 26 win and his epic post-fight speech, it’s clear that he has his sights set on a grudge match against Wanderlei Silva. The two have been linked as opponents for several years now, but a match has never materialized. With Wanderlei engaging in a “fight of the year” contender performance in his last outing, it seems both men have plenty of gas left in the tank to put on a marquee bout. But is this the UFC’s best option?

While Wanderlei has not yet publicly commented on the fight, it took no time at all for two other prominent Brazilian fighters to throw their name into the Sonnen sweepstakes. It seems Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida both want in on the opportunity to defend their country’s honor.

Belfort is coming off consecutive head kick knockout victories since being defeated by Jon Jones, and is looking to prove that he is the most deserving middleweight contender. He is in a state of limbo as Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva compete in their highly anticipated rematch, so in the meantime he has sworn off any additional fights in the middleweight division. Sonnen has articulated his displeasure with having to cut all the way down to 185 lbs., so a catchweight bout between him and Vitor around 195 lbs. would be legendary. Belfort showed that he still has elite-level jiu jitsu skills in his near finish of Jon Jones, and Sonnen would find himself in a dangerous position if he did secure a takedown.

Machida on the other hand is coming off of a controversial decision loss to Phil Davis, and has dropped to 3-3 since losing the light heavyweight title to Shogun in their second bout. He presents a difficult stylistic matchup for Sonnen, as he has notoriously good takedown defense and elusive movement. The match would be a disappointment if it played out like Henderson-Machida, but it certainly has the potential to be an exciting fight. Sonnen’s mouth could bring out the fire in the former-champion.

Regardless of who Sonnen faces in his next bout, expect it to be a highly anticipated affair. UFC matchmaker Joe Silva will certainly have his hands full. Who would you like to see Sonnen face next? Let us know in the comments section.