Wanderlei Silva’s fishy behavior has Chael Sonnen thinking the former Pride light heavyweight champ has already made plans to pull out of their scheduled May 31 bout in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Perhaps it has to do with the excessively long time it took before Silva actually signed the fight contract, or it could have something to do with Silva nearly bailing as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3.
Whatever the case may be, Sonnen told MMAFighting.com that “The Axe Murderer” hasn’t been acting like a man preparing for a five-round fight:
I was with him on the set of The Ultimate Fighter, and I watched him every day not practice. It seemed like he watched me every day twice a day practice. I'd see him in the hallway and he’d see me covered in five or six pounds of sweat and he’d be walking in with fruit, he was always eating pears. He’d be walking around with a pear in his hand as dry as can be and I thought, ‘you don't look like a guy who's getting ready to fight,’ not a five round fight, particularly not when you've been out of the ring for a year. This just doesn't make sense.
The ongoing beef between Sonnen and Silva is derivative of past comments Sonnen has made about Brazil. By now, the MMA world has grown accustomed to Sonnen’s uncanny ability to turn a mildly interesting fight into a bona fide blockbuster by word of mouth alone.
Nothing is off-limits for the self-proclaimed “Oregon Gangster” when it comes to hyping fights.
This is the same guy who told Mauro Ranallo on The MMA Show that he wanted to pat Anderson Silva’s wife on the backside after having her make him a home-cooked meal.
During the UFC 148 pre-fight press conference, Sonnen even joked about growing up as a wealthy American while Anderson and the rest of the Brazilian kids “played in the mud.”
For Wanderlei Silva, this is where the joking crosses the line, especially when it comes at the expense of children living in poverty.
“I believe that making fun of a country’s issues and joking about poor kids, it really made me upset,” Silva said during a UFC promo for TUF: Brazil 3.
No fighter has ever managed to get under Silva’s skin quite like Sonnen. During an episode of UFC Tonight, MMA journalist Ariel Helwani revealed that Silva said he wanted to “suck and smell Sonnen’s blood.”
There is also the infamous pro-wrestling-style promo Silva directed at Sonnen on his YouTube page last year:
For Sonnen, Silva’s words and actions aren’t lining up.
On one hand, Silva talks like a vengeful fighter carrying an entire nation on his back. On the other, he is the sole reason behind every speed bump potentially keeping the fight from ever coming to fruition:
It's one of those things where, something stinks here. He's talking more than ever. He's saying things like ‘Chael better not get hurt’ and ‘Chael better not fall out.’ I've never pulled out, ever. If I’m hurt or I’m sick, I just show up. Never do I complain or I pull out. What that’s telling me, he’s going to claim he’s hurt. He’s just doing all these things to tip his hand here, and something stinks and I don’t know what it is, but something's going on.
Despite his suspicions, Sonnen is willing to give Silva the benefit of the doubt. Silva is a former champion and future Hall of Famer who has consistently competed against the best fighters in the world.
“I’m not delusional that for the most part he’s been a man of his word. I can’t remember a time he pulled out of a fight or said he was going to do something and didn’t do it. I can't remember there was ever a time where he did that,” said Sonnen.
Silva has never backed down from a fight in his professional career. In the face of perhaps his greatest nemesis yet, it’s far-fetched to think he would back down now.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.