After rumors of Chael Sonnen’s next opponent being Lyoto Machida were shot down earlier today we’ve not had to wait long to find out who the controversial star will be fighting upon his return to the Octagon.
According to MMAJunkie, despite Sonnen’s suggestion that he would be happy to compete at light-heavyweight for a “tune-up” fight, he will in fact return immediately to the middleweight division for a bout with one of the division’s top contenders, Brian Stann.
The bout is expected to become the co-main event at the UFC 136 event on October 8th which is set to be headlined by a featherweight title fight featuring Jose Aldo Vs Kenny Florian.
This will be by no means an easy return for Sonnen after what will be by the night of the fight a 14 month absence from the Octagon due to a suspension that came about after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs prior to his title fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117.
Stann has marked himself out as one of the leading lights at 185lbs in the past year since moving down from light-heavyweight, winning three fights in a row, all inside the distance by either submission of TKO, and scooping up two ‘Fight Of The Night’ bonuses along the way.
While ring-rust will be a concern, Sonnen’s wrestling skills are likely to be an advantage given that Stann is primarily a striker, though his ground game has clearly improved under the tutelage of Greg Jackson and his fight camp in New Mexico.
Outside of the cage Sonnen may find Stann a tricky target for his now infamous trash-talking campaigns given that ‘The All-American’ is a legitimate U.S war hero who has impressed many observers with his well-spoken, polite and respectful demeanor.
There’s all to play for her though for both Sonnen and Stann, with a win in a high profile fight like this certain to put them into title contention.