Former UFC middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen made good on his prefight declaration Saturday at UFC 136, as the rarely-silent wrestler dominated the surging Brian Stann at the Toyota Center in Houston.
Sonnen (Pictured, file photo) used his superior grappling to smother the heavy handed former Marine, plowing forward and continually planting the “All-American” on his back. Working to pass Stann’s guard and deliver ground-and-pound, Sonnen eventually secured an arm-triangle choke from side control in the second round, skillfully hopping over Stann’s prone body to find his squeeze and finish the hold.
“I never [remember] what happens [immediately after my fights],” Sonnen candidly stated at the postfight press conference. “I always have to go back and watch the replay. I remember he was really strong. He hit me in the body once and it really hurt. I know I got an arm-triangle. I believe we were in the second round or the end of the first.”
The win marks Sonnen’s first in-cage appearance since taking nemesis Anderson Silva to the brink of defeat last year. Sonnen and “The Spider” dueled for over 23 minutes in August 2010, with the American getting the better of Brazilian for almost the entire bout before Silva caught Sonnen with a fight-ending triangle choke.
After the loss, Sonnen would encounter legal problems which kept him out of the cage. The 34-year-old was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone and convicted in Oregon on a felony count of money laundering in relation to mortgage fraud. His win over Stann comes at the end of a 14-month layoff.
Following Saturday’s victory, Sonnen called out Silva, asking for a rematch on Super Bowl weekend (Feb. 4, 2012) and proposing that the stakes be raised. As though the title being on the line were not enough, Sonnen suggested that, if he were to win, Silva should be banished from the 185-pound ranks. Conversely, if Silva were to retain his belt, Sonnen claimed he would “leave the UFC forever.”
“It was a big relief and this was a big fight,” said Sonnen, “but me and Anderson are playing for keeps. You heard what I said, and a deal is a deal. If the roles would have been reversed, I would have come over the [cage] and shoved that microphone up his ass. But you saw what he did. He sat there. It was a good move.”
With the one-sided victory over Stann, Sonnen can make a strong case as No. 1 contender for Silva’s middleweight title, though Sonnen defines their roles differently. While Sonnen indeed tapped out and failed to capture 185-pound belt last August, the Oregonian continues to promote himself as the real world champion due to the damage he inflicted on Silva during the bout.
“I’ve got plenty of money and plenty of fame. I’m after 12 pounds of gold,” said Sonnen. “As far as I’m concerned, that belt is nothing but a piece of tin when it’s around [Silva’s] waist. I am the true middleweight champion.”
Though UFC President Dana White did not confirm that Sonnen would get his wish for a Super Bowl weekend rematch with the champion, White did note that if the fight were to take place at that time, it would take place in Las Vegas.
One member of the media suggested that the promotion’s highly anticipated return to Brazil in 2012 might be the perfect stage for such a fight to take place. As the UFC is reportedly targeting the 100,000-seat Convention Center of Manaus, it seems a fitting setting for what Sonnen described as the “biggest rematch in the history of the business.”
When asked about the possibility of such an attraction, White seemed open to the idea, but was not without reservations.
“Yeah,” White said, regarding the magnitude of the potential bout and location, “but I want to get Chael out of there alive, though.”