Former challenger says champ Silva retiring
Chael Sonnen has been made a promise. All he has to do is beat Michael Bisping on Saturday, and he’ll get the rematch of a lifetime – and it’ll be arguably the biggest fight in MMA history.
The problem for the UFC is, Sonnen doesn’t think it’s ever going to happen. And the problem for fans (and the media) is, no one is ever quite sure when to fully believe what Sonnen is saying.
Sonnen was up to his old tricks again on Friday during a conference call with media members promoting UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis, the Saturday card in Chicago on which he’ll face Bisping for what UFC president Dana White has said is a shot at middleweight champion Anderson Silva for the title – a bout likely to take place in a Sao Paulo, Brazil, soccer stadium.
But Sonnen cautioned the media to not get its collective hopes up. Another fight between him and Silva – they fought at UFC 117, with Sonnen dominating the champ into the fifth round before being submitted by a miracle Silva armbar-triangle combo – is just not going to happen, Sonnen said.
“I can guarantee you – Anderson Silva and I will never cross paths again,” Sonnen said. “Our business is done. We will not fight under any circumstances no matter how many rules or fake restraints he puts on it. He’s not getting in the ring with me ever.”
Silva is on the shelf with an injury until this summer, when he is expected to be ready to defend his title for the first time since August, when he beat Yushin Okami – whom Sonnen helped train – at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sonnen beat Brian Stann in October, and a planned fight against Mark Munoz was changed to Bisping last week when Munoz was injured in training, setting up the No. 1 contender’s fight at the United Center. Bisping was originally set to fight Demian Maia.
Sonnen even went so far as to say Silva doesn’t plan on ever fighting again – and that the UFC knows it.
“I don’t know if he’s going to retire, or they’re going to retire him,” Sonnen said. “I think the plan was if I could get past Munoz and Mike was successful against Demian, that they were going to do an interim championship between Bisping and I. I know Anderson’s not going to fight. The folks at the UFC know he’s not going to fight. I’m all for promoting and marketing and stuff, and I don’t want to throw water on a perfectly hot flame. But Anderson Silva’s not going to fight anybody.”
White told Fuel TV at last week’s UFC card in Nashville, Tenn., that Sonnen’s comments were really just a matter of Chael being Chael, and that Silva fully intends to return and fight Sonnen.
But Sonnen claims Silva has turned down a rematch with Sonnen several times already, and he believes it will happen again if he beats Bisping.
“Anderson Silva’s not going to fight me. I don’t believe he’s going to fight Bisping. I don’t believe he’s going to fight again. That’s my personal opinion,” Sonnen said. “What I know for a fact is, he turned me down four out of four times, and he even said no to (UFC CEO) Lorenzo Fertitta’s face. Not over the phone – to his face. (Fertitta) brought (Silva) out, said ‘This is the fight we want,’ and Anderson said no.”
It all would be moot if Sonnen can’t beat Bisping in the co-main event. And at the very least, Sonnen seems to know the media loves a good Sonnen-Silva story – but for the second straight fight, he’s really got no beef with his opponent.
In fact, Sonnen went out of his way to compliment Bisping during the call.
“Bisping says he wants a title shot and people try to say he doesn’t deserve one, and I’m sitting on my couch going, ‘He’s beat up everyone they’ve put in front of him,'” Sonnen said. “The big complaint is he hasn’t beaten Top 10 guys, but that isn’t up to him. He fights anyone they put in front of him, he fights big fights, if he’s not a main event, he’s a co-main event. He gets his hand raised time and time again. I don’t know how you can deny a guy who continually goes out and wins.
“Bisping gets the job done, and for somebody to come out and say he shouldn’t get his opportunity is silly. I plan to do everything I can do to stop him, but I’m not going to sit here and say that he’s not a great fighter – he is.”
Sonnen and Bisping fight in the co-main event of UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis at the sold-out United Center in Chicago. The three-fight main card airs live on Fox at 8 p.m. Eastern. The eight-fight preliminary card airs live on Fuel TV at 5 p.m. Eastern.