UFC 175

Chael Sonnen Expects Anderson Silva to Return as Light Heavyweight

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 22:  Mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen attends the UFC 170 event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on February 22, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Kristian IbarraFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2014

Four years ago, Chael Sonnen was dragging Anderson Silva and all of Silva's Brazilian countrymen through the proverbial mud, attempting to talk his way into a title fight with the dominant middleweight champion.

Sonnen lost in his two title opportunities against Silva, who is currently on the mend from a brutal leg injury suffered in a fight against Chris Weidman. Now, Sonnen wants nothing more than to see Silva make a healthy return—a healthy return at 205 pounds, that is.

Sonnen first spoke with MMAFighting.com and other reporters at a media scrum in Sao Paulo, Brazil, saying, "I think the one thing that hasn’t been discussed is what weight [Silva] comes back at. I think it’s highly likely that he comes back at light heavyweight."

Sonnen isn’t crazy—Silva is nearing the end of his fighting career and might find it more difficult to shed all the way down to 185.

Consider a 43-year-old Dan Henderson, who even with the aid of testosterone replacement therapy chose to remain at light heavyweight after an illustrious fighting career in several different weight classes. Silva, just four years younger than Henderson, is nearing the end of his athletic prime.

It’s also worth noting Silva’s inevitable path back to the top of the middleweight mountain, one that would include Jacare Souza and Lyoto Machida, both of whom were Silva’s former training partners. 

Machida is set to fight Chris Weidman in July, and Souza is still climbing the ladder. Silva would come back to murky waters.

Sonnen’s comments were provoked when asked about a potential bout between the former middleweight king and the reigning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Considering Sonnen is one of the few to enter the Octagon with both of the all-time greats, his opinion is as close as salivating fans could ever get to the once sought-after bout.

Immediately after the Jones fight in 2013, Sonnen gave the nod to the dominant light heavyweight.

After some time to think about it, Sonnen isn’t so sure anymore, noting "If (Silva) comes back and has a level of success, those two might answer that question for you."

Call it mild promotion if you must, but this is still a fight people want to see.

Meanwhile, Sonnen is set to square off at UFC 175 against the surging Vitor Belfort. Sonnen has his sights set on the middleweight crown now held by an undefeated Weidman. Though UFC President Dana White doesn’t think Sonnen deserves Belfort’s No. 1 contender title with a victory, the “American Gangster” has different plans.

“It would be the same as Chris saying, ‘I’m going to fight Lyoto Machida but it’s a non-title fight,'” he said to the media. “That’s pro wrestling, that doesn’t happen.”

In his own perfect world, Sonnen would be the middleweight champion while Silva kept himself busy in a class above.

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