This weekend Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann will go to war in a bout that was widely believed to have been lined up to establish the next No.1 contender in the UFC’s middleweight division, but Dana White claims that nothing is set in stone yet.
Apparently the upcoming light-heavyweight contest between Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Dan Henderson which headline UFC 139 next month could also play a factor in who faces 185lb champion Anderson Silva next.
“We’ve got to see what happens here,” White told reporters at yesterday’s UFC 136 pre-fight press conference. “The winner of [Sonnen-Stann] deserves a shot at Anderson Silva? It’d be tough to say no. But if Henderson beats Shogun, it’d be tough to say that Henderson doesn’t deserve the shot either. So we’ll see what happens.”
Henderson fought Silva for the title once before in 2008, being submitted in the second round, but since then he’s gone 6-1, defeating the likes of Rich Franklin, Michael Bisping and Rousimar Palhares in the UFC along with Renato Sobral, ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante and Fedor Emeliananko in Strikeforce, becoming their light-heavyweight champion along the way.
So if he does beat ‘Shogun’ as well then he would certainly be the most qualified man at this moment in time to take on the champion. While ‘Hendo’ is reluctant to cut back down to 185lbs at the age of 40 he has indicated that he’d be willing to do so for that fight.
There’s no doubt that a rematch with the man who’s come closest to beating Silva so far – Chael Sonnen – still has the most buzz behind it though, and I’d still be a little surprised if they don’t make that fight if he comes out on top on Saturday night.
If Stann was to win however then I suspect they might lean more towards Henderson as it would likely be a bigger pay-per-view draw.