There was a time when Chael Sonnen actually liked Wanderlei Silva. You can see it in his eyes when he tells the story. There was a day in the past when Sonnen was working out, and Silva was the man standing across from him. It was then he realized he had no mouthpiece. He tried to tell Silva that, but wasn't sure if his message got across due to a language barrier. Sonnen strapped up his gloves and took a deep breath, unsure of what would come next.
"He never threw a punch at my face," he said.
It all changed during an infamous exchange in a van which was taped by Silva and distributed online. In that clip, Silva lectured Sonnen about respect for his country and Sonnen said little. According to him, it's because (a) Silva was walking with a cane, and (b) he didn't really understand what he was saying. But since then, there's been animosity, and Sonnen has never wavered in wanting to fight Silva.
Earlier this week, Sonnen said he can "almost guarantee" that Silva would never sign to fight him, but UFC president Dana White hasn't quite shut the door on it just yet.
"Wanderlei was hurt, so when he’s better, we can possibly make that fight," White told FOX Sports on Thursday.
Sonnen has already committed to moving down to middleweight after his UFC Fight Night main event against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua on Saturday. A loss would give him three straight defeats, but White said he wasn't quite sure what to make of his career arc, only that a lot was dependent on how he performs this weekend.
"Here’s the thing for Chael. Chael asked for this fight. He begged for this fight," White said. "And now he says that he’ll go to 185. Who the hell knows what Chael Sonnen is going to do? He might stay at 205. I don’t listen to any of that stuff. All I’m focused on is the fight, see how the fight happens, how it ends, and go from there."