It was said during The Ultimate Fighter 18, featuring UFC woman’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate as coaches, that it was one of the bitterest rivalries in mixed martial arts history. The book was closed on that rivalry when Rousey defeated Tate for a second time at UFC 168 on Dec. 28, but there may be an even bigger rivalry in the making in Brazil between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.
The two are filming The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 as opposing coaches, and things have gotten so tense that some of Sonnen’s coaching staff fear for their safety.
“From what I have heard, the first day of filming was absolute insanity. Basically, it’s so crazy down there that the guys that are coaching on Chael’s team are scared to be there. That’s how insane it is inside that gym,” said UFC president Dana White following UFC Fight Night 35 on Fox Sports 1.
Prior to his UFC 167 bout with Rashad Evans, Sonnen spoke with MMAWeekly.com in a video interview about the concerns of coaching in a country he’s offended on multiple occasions. Over the past three years, he’s insulted Brazil as a nation, their culture and their most revered fighters. On two separate occasions, a Brazilian fan has attempted to assault Sonnen in the U.S.
“The threats are very real, and we downplay them if anything. They’re real and genuine. Attempts have been made. It’s just the way it goes. I’m not going to live my life in fear. I don’t live in fear,” said Sonnen.“I don’t think about it a whole lot. Again, it’s a real thing. I recognize it. That’s it.”
The threats haven’t deterred Sonnen from antagonizing Brazil or Silva, and White thinks the season, which is expected to air in March, will be “crazy.”
“I think this season is going to be explosive and crazy,” added White. “From what I’m hearing, the things that went down, Wanderlei is 100-percent being Wanderlei and Chael is being Chael.”