Johnny Hanson / AP
Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011 | 2 a.m.
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HOUSTON — Chael Sonnen swore the way he called out middleweight champion Anderson Silva after a UFC 136 victory over Brian Stann wasn’t premeditated.
Sonnen choked out Stann at 3:51 of the second round and happened to see Silva, his Brazilian enemy, watching from the front row. As soon as Sonnen got a microphone in front of him, he challenged Silva to a rematch of their classic UFC 117 meeting.
Silva stayed seated and smiled, which was not the response Sonnen had hoped for.
“He didn’t even stand up to accept the challenge,” Sonnen said. “If the roles were reversed, I would have come up over the rail and shoved that microphone up his (expletive). You saw what he did. He sat there and was like, ‘boo-hoo.’”
Sonnen is back. The tame demeanor he sported leading up to the fight with Stann, a rare opponent he liked and respected, went away seconds after the bout ended.
Sonnen said he was happy with the performance, which saw him barely get hit and make use of his world-class wrestling skills with repeated takedowns. But it was merely a pit stop on the way to his final destination.
“I’m after 12 pounds of gold, and as far as I’m concerned, that belt is not worth anything more than a piece of tin when it’s around (Silva’s) waist,” Sonnen said. “I am the true middleweight champion.”
Sonnen even made a proposition to Silva. Sonnen said he would retire if Silva beat him again. Sonnen said if he won, Silva would have to move out of the 185-pound division forever.
UFC President Dana White usually shakes his head and laughs off the outrageous rhetoric Sonnen spits at this point. But White challenged one of Sonnen’s points Saturday — he thinks Silva wants the fight just as badly.
“I think some of the things he’s said have Anderson fired up, and there’s big money in this fight,” White said.
It’s such a monumental fight that someone asked White in the press conference why it wouldn’t be held at the 110,000-person capacity Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.
One reason is because Sonnen proposed Super Bowl weekend 2012 as the date for the title fight. That would seem to be enough time to allow Silva to recover from a shoulder injury.
The annual Super Bowl show is always held in Las Vegas, which White said wouldn’t change next year. He wouldn’t promise to deliver the bout on the card but made it sound like a distinct possibility.
“We’re playing for keeps this time,” Sonnen said. “I’ve had it with this guy. He’s probably had it with me, so let’s figure this thing out once and for all.”
Silva might have experienced flashbacks to his first fight with Sonnen as he watched from the crowd at the Toyota Center. Like he did against Silva for four rounds before losing via fifth-round submission, Sonnen kept Stann on the ground and pounded away on him.
The 14-month layoff Sonnen went through after testing positive for high testosterone levels and going through a legal battle involving a money laundering conviction had no ill effects.
“I had the same problem with Chael that everyone has had with him and that his future opponents will have,” Stann said. “I thought I was strong enough to handle his wrestling and that wasn’t the case. You don’t want Chael Sonnen on top of you. It was horrible.”
Sonnen didn’t limit his threats to Silva. He also went after Las Vegas-based middleweight Vitor Belfort, who has recently expressed interest in fighting Sonnen.
“Maybe you can give Vitor a couple of messages for me,” Sonnen said. “First off, if my name comes out of his mouth again, I will bury him where he stands. And second off, tell Vitor to meet me at the hotel at 7:30, because daddy’s got a plane to catch and I need someone to help me carry my luggage.”
Sonnen referred to himself as the middleweight champion multiple times Saturday. To get the rest of the world to believe that, he’ll have to beat Silva.
In Sonnen’s mind, the date and place are already set.
“He heard what I said and my word is good,” Sonnen said. “A deal is a deal.”