After months of trash talking was backed up by a show-stopping performance against Anderson Silva at UFC 117, and early indicators suggest the buy rate for the event may be close to seven figures, Chael Sonnen has emerged from relative obscurity to become one of the UFC’s hottest properties.
There has been a lot of talk about Sonnen getting an immediate rematch against the champion after coming so close to defeating him, but with Silva now out injured until 2011 it appears that Sonnen may fight again in the mean time.
“I think I’ll be Anderson Silva’s next fight, but I don’t think he will be mine,” Sonnen revealed on ESPN’s MMA Live yesterday. “I think I will have a dance partner before then. He’s said that he’s out until…the quote was, ‘several months into 2011.’ I’m certainly not going to sit on my hands ’til then, but I do believe that when he does feel better and comes back I will be next in line for him.”
So who will Sonnen face next?
One man who’s thrown his name in the hat is the UK’s Michael Bisping. He is currently set to face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 120 in London, England in October, but if he is victorious in that fight he appears keen to test himself against Sonnen.
“I’m gonna beat akiyama the beat sonnen, he can’t do that to me. Come on you salesman!!!!! cos u cant hold me down f*g!” Bisping tweeted after the Silva fight on Saturday night.
When asked by MMA Live anchor Jon Anik who he wanted to face next, Sonnen had no hesitation.
“I’ll tell you, if Michael Bisping ever addresses me in public comment again I will bury him where he stands.”
Upon hearing this Bisping again took to twitter with his response.
“Sonnen talking sh*t? whats new, that’s like saying day follows night.”
So clearly the stage is already being set nicely for a potential fight between the two, and considering that Sonnen almost single-handedly trash talked UFC 117 into the big time from a pay-per-view perspective, you can’t help but wonder if a Sonnen Vs Bisping fight could also exceed expectations.
In many ways Bisping is even better suited to Sonnen’s barbed tongue than Silva was. Whereas the champion chose to ignore much of what he had to say Bisping will happily engage in verbal warfare with him. There’s also the UK Vs USA angle, and given Sonnen’s penchant for somewhat xenophobic remarks he’ll no doubt have plenty to say on the matter.
With Bisping already being a fighter that many fans love to hate , this is a fight that could really capture people’s imagination.
It also happens to be an interesting stylistic match-up too. Bisping prefers to strike, but like Sonnen isn’t a devastating puncher and it would be interesting to see who came out on top in the exchanges. Bisping also has good takedown defense, excellent cardio, and his defensive jiu-jitsu is one of his most under-appreciated skills, which means it’s not a foregone conclusion that Sonnen could just take him down and keep him there.
Still, at first glance it’s a fight that seems to favor Sonnen rather than a heavy handed striker like Vitor Belfort or a rematch with submission specialist Demain Maia, and considering that the UFC’s end goal is to cash in on a Silva Vs Sonnen rematch in 2011, this may become a very appealing option for them.
Personally I think it’s a no-brainer provided Bisping get’s past Akiyama, though that’s by no means guaranteed.