Call Chael Sonnen whatever you wish, but ever since the now-infamous knee injury that Dan Henderson suffered before UFC 151, the MMA world has had reason to call Sonnen a number of different things.

Some called him a hero and praised him for attempting to step in to provide UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones with some opposition after Henderson withdrew from the fight. Others called him an opportunist and questioned if Sonnen’s willingness to face Jones at UFC 151 served as part of a grand scheme concocted by Henderson and Sonnen, the latter of whom threw a number of barbs in Jones’ direction before the former suffered his injury.

Either way, Jones declined Sonnen, and UFC 151 went down as the first UFC event canceled under Zuffa’s management. Despite the  backlash he faced, Jones survived a first-round scare against Vitor Belfort and handed the Brazilian his first submission loss in seven years. And Sonnen sat and watched.

Fast forward to this past weekend’s “wacky” UFC 159 card. Jones and Sonnen, fresh off their stint as coaches on season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, finally did battle with Jones’ title on the line. Although most expected Jones to destroy Sonnen, a select few favored Sonnen’s wrestling and aggressive offense. In addition, many continued to debate Jones’ skills from off of his back, believing Sonnen would exploit a lack thereof.

At fight time, the wrestling and aggression played a part in the outcome. However, Jones used his wrestling and his aggression to do what many thought Sonnen would. Despite a compound fracture in his left big toe, Jones scored a huge takedown, landed a knee to the body and used his ground-and-pound to TKO Sonnen.

After the fight, Sonnen commended Jones for his performance. However, he also did admit that he had yet to decide on whether he would fight once more in the UFC.

The fact that Sonnen did not decide to either retire or fight on raises the question of which path he should choose. Though he doubles as an analyst on UFC Tonight and occasionally as part of the UFC on Fuel TV pre-fight and post-fight team, does that mean he should hang up the gloves?

Sonnen mentioned Wanderlei Silva in questioning the big fights that remained, but would that tickle Sonnen’s fancy once he’s at home thinking about his next move? Would he change his tune about fighting Dan Henderson or take on “Suga” Rashad Evans, who will compete against each other at UFC 161? Would Sonnen tempt a fight with the winner of the long-awaited rematch between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, also set for UFC 161? If not, then would he keep an eye on next month’s UFC 160 card, where Glover Teixeira faces James Te Huna?

Ultimately, Sonnen will render the final verdict on whether or not he will entertain any of those fights, but those options can tempt with ferocious persistence.

Think about it. The winners of UFC 161’s two bouts could see themselves back in the title hunt, as could either Teixeira or Te Huna. Unless Sonnen called one of the winners out and garnered a response, he would prove more likely to face one of the losers of those bouts than any of the winners.

Then again, win or lose, Sonnen may not change his tune about not fighting Henderson, even if Evans finishes the former Pride two-division champion.

That would leave only Wanderlei Silva. Silva and Sonnen conversed in 2011 and have occasionally exchanged barbs since then, so no real bad blood would exist on the immediate surface. However, the fight itself could sell with not only the questions of Sonnen’s possible retirement, but also with Silva’s own future.

Everyone knows how Silva carries himself before and after fights. Come fight time, though, few match or surpass his intensity inside the cage. Plain and simple, Silva does not have boring fights, yet his style can play right into Sonnen’s strengths.

In addition to the dollar and cents it potentially can make, some sense also adds into the match-up. Apart from Sonnen wanting fights that could eventually lead him back to a title shot, fans feel Silva needs to mount a streak before anyone talks about him and UFC gold. As great an opportunity as the bout would present Silva, it would equally pose a good shot for Sonnen to return to the win column and earn a win that could pay dividends to a title rematch. At the end of the day, we must remember that Sonnen only wants the fights that provide for that.

Really, this all falls back on Sonnen’s mental drive. If he feels driven enough to take that chance, he should. Sonnen knows what happens when fighters sign to face Silva, and he can capitalize on the moment without question. If not, then perhaps we should prepare to see more of Sonnen in a broadcasting and analytic role on UFC television programming, thus pumping the breaks on hopes of seeing him come back. Even if he feels he no longer can get the opportunity to challenge for titles, few will argue that he can articulate and help prepare us all for the next time one hangs in the balance.

Just ask Sonnen. Whether or not he keeps his gloves on, he’ll definitely speak on it, as only “Chael P.” can do.

Photo: Chael Sonnen (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.