Sonnen will be a middleweight again
NOV 11, 2013 3:40p ET
Chael Sonnen will fight at UFC 167 against Rashad Evans in his third straight fight at light heavyweight after competing at 185 pounds for the majority of his career.
Following his bout against Evans, Sonnen will then shift directly into a fight against Wanderlei Silva and a coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil where they will then fight in 2014 in a contest also at 205 pounds.
Despite setting up four straight fights in the light heavyweight division, Sonnen insists that his time in the weight class has an expiration date and it's already set as a matter of fact. According to the Oregon native in a conversation with FOX Sports, he will move back down to middleweight after the fights with Evans and Silva â win, lose or draw.
"I'm going to get back to middleweight," Sonnen said in the interview. "I'm going to get through the Wanderlei (Silva) fight and then I will be returning to middleweight."
Sonnen most recently defeated former UFC and PRIDE champion Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua by guillotine choke to up his stock in the light heavyweight division, and help him land the co-main event bout against Evans at UFC 167.
Long term, Sonnen believes his best chance to get back to a title and face the best competition in the world happens in the middleweight division. When he looks at the list of fighters there from Chris Weidman to Anderson Silva to Michael Bisping and on down the list, it's a veritable murderer's row of talent and he'd like to face them all.
"I just feel better there. As an athlete I just feel better, I can move better, I can do my best work at middleweight. I think middleweight's a harder division overall, but I think it's where I have my best moments. My best ability to compete is down a weight class," Sonnen stated.
The real question then becomes if Sonnen already knows for a fact that he's moving back down to middleweight, why take two fights at light heavyweight? The inquiry then also becomes if he beats Evans, who is a top ten ranked fighter, wouldn't facing Silva be a step down as he wants to push forward towards a title shot? Sonnen is quick to shoot down that theory because of one overwhelming factor â his goal at the end of the day is to do what's best for the UFC, and if facing Silva on The Ultimate Fighter and then in a bout to settle their rivalry, that's exactly what he's going to do.
"Here's what I do. First thing that comes is the sport. I don't put anything in front of the sport. The second thing I do is what's best for the company, and third is what's best for me and my career and for Chael Sonnen as a person. I will always follow that. So whatever's best for the sport is what I'll do, and whatever's best for the company is what I'll do," Sonnen said. "Right now, with our relationship with Brazil, with our relationship with Globo TV, this is what needs to be done. If it takes a little bit of time, then it takes a little bit of time. That's the way it goes."
It seems Sonnen the light heavyweight has a time limit on how much longer he'll be fighting at 205 pounds, but his return to middleweight won't even be possible until at least mid-2014. Given Sonnen's cerebral approach, however, that might just be his plan of attack because by then Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva would have already had their rematch and Vitor Belfort could already have his title shot completed.
That could mean one more for the bad guy if Sonnen plays his cards right because with two more wins, his triumphant return to middleweight could be stamped with a title shot against whoever stands tall as champion.