Chael Sonnen believes a much-anticipated rematch against Anderson Silva will never happen.
In fact, he doesn’t think Silva — the current UFC middleweight champion — will fight again. Period.
During a pre-fight conference call Friday ahead of his meeting with Michael Bisping at the UFC on FOX 2 show on Jan. 28 in Chicago, Sonnen said he was done with the man he referred to as "cowardly."
"I guarantee you Anderson Silva and my paths will never cross in the cage again," Sonnen said. "I don’t think he will fight anybody.
"That’s my personal opinion. But it’s a fact that (he) turned down a fight with me four times."
Sonnen added that Silva even turned down the offer when it was presented to him in person by (UFC chairman) Lorenzo Fertitta.
In response to a question as to why he thinks he won’t fight again, Sonnen said: "Because he sucks," reiterating the same words he uttered directly to Silva after defeating Brian Stann in October in what many people thought would earn him a rematch against the title-holder.
Sonnen called out the champ, who was sitting cageside at the arena in Houston, and said he was upping the stakes; if Silva lost, the champ would have to leave the division, but if he lost, he would have to leave the UFC altogether, forever.
Silva didn’t accept the challenge — "instead he hid behind Charles Barkley,” said Sonnen, who later said he’d rescinded his offer.
Sonnen was originally expected to fight Mark Munoz next week before the latter was injured and replaced by Bisping on Tuesday. It was widely believed that if Sonnen were to win next Saturday he would then face Silva, who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, once healthy. It was also reported such a fight would take place this summer in Sao Paulo in Silva’s native Brazil, and perhaps at a stadium that could hold up to 100,000.
On Friday’s conference call, Bisping said that UFC president Dana White told him when he offered him the fight with Sonnen, that should he win, he would fight Silva at a soccer stadium in Brazil.
Sonnen insisted he’s not even interested in a rematch anymore with Silva even if he wins.
"Silva’s not on my radar anymore, I want to move on," said Sonnen, who added should he defeat Bisping and become the No. 1 contender, he intends to sit down with White and talk about challenging instead a title-holder at one of the weight classes above or below 185 pounds — namely, welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre or light-heavyweight belt-holder Jon Jones.
Both Sonnen and Bisping were pretty tame Friday when it came to trash-talking, saying each respects the other as a fighter.
"I don’t think Bisping is a coward or behaves in a shameful way, so I’m not going to make something up," Sonnen said.
On the other hand, the UFC on FOX 2 headliners Rashad Evans and Phil Davis got into a heated exchange near the end of the conference call.
Evans, the former UFC light-heavyweight champion, said he didn’t believe Davis was a "real fighter."
Asked to explain, Evans said: "I would fight even if I wasn’t paid to but he wouldn’t."
Davis replied: "You’re right, if I weren’t getting paid, I’d be pushing a pen. But since I am, I’m fighting you next."
Evans also questioned Davis’s jaw, suggesting the latter couldn’t handle the striking of Antonio Rogerio (Lil Nog) Nogueira in his last fight, which Davis managed to win by decision.
"When Lil Nog hit you in the mouth, you didn’t know what to do," Evans said to Davis. "When I smash you in the mouth, you’re going to feel it."
Davis, who managed to emerge with a unanimous decision win over Nogueira last March but had been out with a knee injury since, had the last word Friday.
"With every punch I throw (next Saturday), I’m going to remind you of what you said," Davis said.
NOTES: Win or lose, Jorge Rivera’s fight Friday against Eric Shafer will be his last. The middleweight veteran said on MMAjunkie.com radio Friday he will retire following his bout in Nashville, which will air on Sportsnet ONE as part of the UFC on FX 1 preliminary card … The UFC announced Friday that its upcoming Super Bowl weekend show will be available in theatres in 3-D for the first time. UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit on Saturday, Feb. 4, will be shown in more than 100 theatres in the U.S. While Canadian theatres were not in the lineup, a 3-D pay-per-view television feed may be available in homes (contact your television service provider).