Chael Sonnen Moving Back to Middleweight After Shogun Rua Fight

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2013

The “American Gangster” is returning to 185 pounds.

On Tuesday’s episode of UFC Tonight, Chael Sonnen announced he had signed a new five-fight deal with the UFC. He also revealed that he would be returning to the middleweight division after his UFC Fight Night bout on Fox Sports 1 with former light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on Aug. 17:

After I get done with Shogun, I’m returning to middleweight. There’s two guys that I want to get matched up with—first is Vitor Belfort because he’s awesome and on an incredible roll, and the second is Wanderlei [Silva], who I’ve now found out is going back to middleweight. The landscape has completely changed. I got a new contract, and I’m returning to the weight class.

Sonnen certainly didn’t stay gone for long.

His upcoming bout with Shogun will only be his second fight at 205 pounds since losing to Anderson Silva last July.

It looks like Sonnen is positioning himself for another run at the middleweight title. Having already lost to Silva twice, Sonnen originally moved to the light heavyweight division in an attempt to capture his first-ever UFC title, but things didn’t really pan out. He was soundly defeated by UFC champ Jon Jones in April.

In only a year’s time, the landscape of the middleweight division has changed completely. Chris Weidman is the new sheriff in town after knocking out Silva and winning the UFC title. The division has also been deepened with an influx of fresh talent like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Luke Rockhold and Uriah Hall.  

Perhaps the most enticing reason for Sonnen returning to his old stomping grounds at 185 pounds is a chance to finally get his hands on Wanderlei. According to MMA journalist Ariel Helwani on UFC Tonight, Wanderlei is looking for a bout that would get him closer to a middleweight title shot.

Sonnen has been calling Wanderlei out for months, but each and every challenge has been snubbed by the former Pride champion.

With Sonnen now officially back in the mix at middleweight, “The Axe Murderer” may have finally run out of excuses.

Jordy McElroy is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon Worldwide.