Chael Sonnen is back.
In a dominant performance against Brian Stann at UFC 136, it looked as if someone forgot to tell Sonnen that he was supposed to be rusty after a 14 month layoff.
Utilizing his superior grappling, Sonnen brought Stann to the ground with relative ease and transitioned past Stann's guard seemingly at will. After controlling his way to a 10-9 first round, Sonnen worked Stann into a head and arm triangle choke, easily passed to side control, and forced Stann to tap at minute 3:51 of round two.
Though he's typically seen as a hard-nosed grinder, having earned more than half of his victories by decision, Sonnen very much looked the part of finisher last night. He stayed active on top of Stann and tallied his fourth career submission win.
Though many fighters would allow their dismantling of a game opponent to speak for itself, Sonnen wasted no time getting back to his old ways.
After being understandably subdued in the pre-fight lead up to UFC 136—Stann, an American war hero and all-around great guy, is near impossible to trash talk—Sonnen went on the offensive in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. Ignoring Rogan's opening question, Sonnen took control of the mic and called out middleweight champion, Anderson Silva:
Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck. I'm calling you out, Silva, but we're upping the stakes. I beat you, you leave the division. You beat me, I'll leave the UFC forever.
This isn't the first time we've seen Sonnen use his wise-cracking mouth to his advantage. Following a three fight win streak, Sonnen went on a trash talking campaign to position himself for his first title shot against Silva in August 2010. After his loss to Silva, and subsequent suspension for high testosterone levels, Sonnen directed barbs at the entire country of Brazil, keeping himself relevant in the MMA universe, and ultimately positioning himself for a return to the Octagon in a title elimination fight.
Though there are those that criticize Sonnen's over-the-top style of promotion, it apparently works. When asked by MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani (at the 7:35 mark) if a rematch with Sonnen would be next for the middleweight champion, Dana White responded simply, "Uhh, yeah I'd be pretty stupid not to do it."
While nothing is official yet, it seems likely that Sonnen is en route to another title shot against Silva, proving yet again that despite all of his tools in the cage, Sonnen's number one asset is his wise-cracking mouth.