Chael Sonnen (file photo) still has doubts he will rematch Anderson Silva. | File Photo: Sherdog.com
A little more than a week out from his scheduled co-main event bout with Mark Munoz, Chael Sonnen was thrown a curveball when Michael Bisping stepped in to replace the injured “Filipino Wrecking Machine.”
As it turned out, Bisping gave Sonnen all he could handle in their UFC on Fox 2 bout at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday night.
“Michael Bisping hit me so hard in the first round I didn’t even know what day it was,” Sonnen said during the post-fight press conference. “I remember when I came to, looking at him and thinking, ‘Oh my God you have no idea how bad you’ve hurt me or you’d step in and do something about it.’”
The outspoken middleweight kept his wits about him enough to take home a unanimous decision against the Brit, however. All three judges scored it for Sonnen: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28, giving the Team Quest representative his fifth victory in six fights.
Sonnen was able to land takedowns in all three rounds, but Bisping was able to get his feet and often controlled the action against the cage.
“I was never in a position tonight where I was comfortable, not one,” Sonnen said. “It was 15 awkward minutes. I got him down on the ground, and he’d throw a hook in, blocking me. As soon as I [would] create a space, he pushed away [and] popped up.”
The first two rounds were closely contested, but it was in the final frame that Sonnen did his best work. The 34-year-old took Bisping down early in the round, took his back and attempted to secure a rear-naked choke. Unlike the first 10 minutes, Sonnen was able to maintain his dominant position for the majority of the stanza, moving to full mount and landing body punches and elbows.
Sonnen was aware that a final surge was essential to winning the fight.
“I knew we were in the middle of a close fight. I knew I needed to win the third round. I had a sense of urgency for sure; I think we both did,” he said.
As they awaited the final ruling, neither fighter was completely confident of what decision the judges would render.
“I said, ‘Hey what do you think?’ He said. ‘I don't know, I think I got the first two.’ And I said, ‘I think you might be right,’” Sonnen recalled. “That doesn't mean I disagree with the judges. They were close rounds.”
With the win, Sonnen earns a rematch with middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who submitted him with a triangle armbar at UFC 117. The No. 1 contender remains skeptical that the fight will happen.
“I know I’ll do my part in that. Do I think that he’ll sign the fight? No, I don't. We'll see. I’ve been wrong before. The one thing [the UFC] haven’t revealed is they’ve offered him the fight four times, and he’s said no four times,” Sonnen said. “Mysteriously he’s supposed to accept on the fifth.”
Regardless of what happens with Silva down the road, Sonnen has plenty of respect for Bisping.
“I can assure you, having fought him and the alleged champion, he could win the title today if they gave him his opportunity,” he said.