Although his UFC 159 post-fight comments lead to heavy speculation that he might hang up his gloves, Chael Sonnen looked retirement in the eye, but he didn’t waiver.
“I’m not gonna be one of these guys that hangs around if there isn’t a road to the title,” he said after losing to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 159. “I think that was probably my last opportunity.”
Sonnen on Tuesday night’s edition of UFC Tonight, however, revealed his plans for the immediate future, and they don’t include retirement. Instead, Sonnen said he wants to continue fighting and intends to remain in the 205-pound division.
Jones made quick work of Sonnen on Saturday night in Newark, N.J., but Sonnen is willing to go to the back of the line and try again.
“I’ll fight at 205. I’m not retiring,” he declared. “I’m 36 years old. I have a lot of goals and I’m not going to reach them if I retire.
“I don’t have a lot of options at 185. I’ve fought everyone in the top 10, including the champion a couple of times. So I moved up to 205, but I lost to the champ and it wasn’t a competitive enough match to warrant another chance.”
So how does that make sense?
It doesn’t. But in the world of a professional athlete who feels like he still has something to offer, it’s difficult to stop before he’s reached his goal… even if the hope before him is just a flicker.
“So what do I do? It was a lot better experience, not having to get the weight off. I’ll give up the size, but have a smile on my face,” Sonnen continued. “I could be talked into going back down if that’s where the fights are. The landscape changes quickly. I think there will be a big shakeup on July 4th weekend when (Chris) Weidman gets his hands on Anderson (Silva).”
That’s irrelevant to Sonnen’s current plans, however, as he intends to fight at light heavyweight. Silva losing to Weidman would, of course, open up a possible return. But even if Weidman were to pull of the upset, Silva would likely get an immediate rematch, which would take some time to play out.
Sonnen instead is focused on 205, and already has his next target in mind.
He mentioned Wanderlei Silva at the UFC 159 post-fight press conference, but on Tuesday night he zeroed in.
“Wanderlei called me out before, but the fight never made sense. Now it does,” he stated. “I’m not going anywhere until me and Wanderlei straighten this thing out once and for all.
“Wanderlei pulled a dirt bag move on me one time. He said something to me that I couldn’t hear, and then put it on YouTube with subtitles because he knew I couldn’t understand it and called me out.”
That didn’t sit well with Sonnen, and he’s now ready to forgo retirement to settle the score.
“If you’re a fighter, that doesn’t fly. You must respond to him, and I’m ready to respond to you Wanderlei.”
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)