UFC

Sonnen blasts Silva's challenge

Chael
Chael
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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.

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Last Saturday while attending the Mr. Olympia competition in Las Vegas, Chael Sonnen was enjoying his time meeting fans and attendees, signing autographs and taking pictures like so many fighters were there to do that day.

Out of nowhere, Sonnen came face to face with his old buddy Wanderlei Silva who had come charging across the arena floor like somebody just stole his wallet. Silva immediately began yelling and cursing at Sonnen, who was taken back at first and then reacted with his own words for the former Pride champion.

All of the action was caught on tape as a matter of fact, and it wasn't by accident. As it turns out, Silva's bull like trot across the showroom floor was captured by a camera crew that was specifically following the veteran fighter as he went after Sonnen.

Hours later Silva released the entire video while also including his own verbal onslaught aimed at Sonnen in his native Portuguese. Since the altercation happened on Saturday, Sonnen hasn't responded, but he took a few minutes at the start of UFC Tonight on Wednesday to offer his answer to Silva's challenge.

"I'm all for Wanderlei having a little fun, good for him let him have his fun, but Wanderlei three things—first off if you're going to do a publicity stunt, do not bring your own camera," Sonnen said. "It looks staged, which it was. It insults your audience. Assume they're going to connect the dots. Show up somewhere a camera is and then go into your little routine."

Sonnen's advice didn't stop there because his beef with Silva goes back much further than this one interaction. The self-proclaimed 'American Gangster' from West Linn, Oregon has asked to face Silva on numerous occasions, and stated that time and again the Brazilian has turned down the challenge.

Because Silva could never be bothered to actually accept a previously offered bout against him, Sonnen isn't sure he should be stomping across the floor, staged or not, looking to pick a fight with him.

"In this country and within this industry if you refuse to fight a guy like you did me, you forfeit your right to then talk about that person in this type of fashion," Sonnen said. "Accosting somebody in public can be regrettable. Accosting a gangster can be hazardous.

"Third and finally, Wanderlei if you would like to come right here on this very set and conduct a conventional and traditional style interview, we here at UFC Tonight will pay your way."

Silva's tactics to get under Sonnen's skin aren't working to land the two of them in a fight together any time soon because other circumstances are already at play. Silva is currently nursing injuries that will keep him out of action until the early part of 2014, and Sonnen is matched up against Rashad Evans in the co-main event of UFC 167.

If the random appearance at his booth to challenge him last Saturday accomplished anything, Sonnen admits that Silva's rants have now taken his mind off of his fight with Evans and that is definitely a dangerous game to play.

"It is a distraction," Sonnen said. "I've been wanting the fight with Wanderlei for a couple of years now. The fight has been offered, the fight has been close. I've done everything I can do, I can't get Wanderlei to agree. I've now got Rashad (Evans), Rashad's a very hard fight. I need to keep my eye on the ball but it's hard."

Maybe taking Sonnen's eye off the prize was the real motivation for Silva during this entire tirade, but it's hard to imagine the UFC won't eventually put these two in the Octagon together and let them settle their differences once and for all.

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