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 — 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 — 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.