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Evans vs Sonnen: 3 Fights for Chael Sonnen to Take Next

Artem MoshkovichFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2013

Evans vs Sonnen: 3 Fights for Chael Sonnen to Take Next

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    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

    Whether you love or hate Chael Sonnen, there's no denying that it's a rare feat to control—let alone manhandle—him around the Octagon.

    Yet in the moments after the fight, Sonnen couldn't have been clearer when he declared, "I had one predominant problem tonight, and that is I fought a guy that's a better fighter than I am. You could have left me out there for 25 more minutes, I wasn't getting out."

    Sure, Jon Jones may have also controlled the "American Gangster" with relative ease but that was Jon Jones—he's a creature of a uniquely different nature.

    Sonnen vs. Evans was billed as a bout that would be more even-keeled, similar wrestling backgrounds from fighters with similar physiques.

    It wasn't.

    Evans overpowered Sonnen in the clinch, got him to the ground, passed to full mount and rained hellfire on the side of his head until the referee had seen enough.

    Thankfully, the future is far brighter for Sonnen—much like his recent victory against Shogun Rua, he'll have a far easier time handling Wanderlei Silva when they clash after their run on the Ultimate Fighter Brazil.

    But let's examine what the future holds beyond Silva.

    In a post-fight interview, Sonnen was very clear about wanting to "return to 185 and continue his best work there."

    So which top-10 middleweights are convincing matchups for Sonnen after his spat with Silva is put to rest?

Michael Bisping Rematch

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    Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

    Though the two previously met in a January 2012 bout where Sonnen walked away with a decision victory, their career arcs have since developed in such a way where this rematch, well, makes sense.

    Since that win, Sonnen's tumultuous run has amounted to a rather unimpressive 1-3 record. In a slightly better string of performances, Bisping managed to decision Brian Stann, lose by blinding head kick KO to Vitor Belfort and win a controversial decision over Alan Belcher.

    The fans aren't really clamoring for big things from either fighter.

    That said, they're both pound-for-pound top five talkers and self-promoters. Perhaps a bit of reborn verbal warfare from both directions is exactly what's needed at this point in their careers.

Lyoto Machida

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    Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    After tapping Shogun a few months ago, Sonnen grabbed the post-fight interview mic and immediately set his sights on Wanderlei Silva.

    Yet in an equally interesting twist, Lyoto Machida took to Twitter shortly thereafter and made a case for a matchup between himself and Sonnen instead.

    And you know what? That's a fight with fireworks potential.

    If for no other reason, then simply because of the clash of styles.

    Take, for instance, Machida's last win over Mark Munoz. In vintage "Dragon" fashion, he spent a few minutes gauging distance and timing. Once secure, he unleashed a sublime head kick that sent Munoz careening across the Octagon. 

    And that element is exactly what makes a Sonnen vs. Machida matchup so compelling.

    If Sonnen follows his trademark approach to the opening seconds, he'll close the distance on Machida swiftly in an attempt to prevent any of the striking that normally leads to Machida's opponent laying on the canvas in a daze.

    On the contrary, Machida's remarkable takedown defense could cause Sonnen fits.

    Regardless of how it plays out, this is a bout that is not only entertaining, but also significant for both parties.

Mark Munoz

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Courtesy of a head kick from Lyoto Machida, Mark Munoz didn't fare well in his last UFC bout.

    Though still a force to be reckoned with at 185, he's now sitting idly without an opponent.

    Enter Chael Sonnen.

    If they square off, both men would be facing one another coming off of losses. Assuming he wins, Sonnen could have another "W" over a top-tier name. Likewise, Munoz would have the opportunity to test his mettle against one of the faces of the organization.

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