Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Chael Sonnen is back in a spotlight fight, headlining UFC Fight Night 26, while coming off a loss. Certainly, most of you would have stopped me, right?

Like him or not, Sonnen never fails to shy away from fights. Anytime the UFC calls upon him to step inside the Octagon, he never says no, whether it is at light heavyweight or middleweight. He is reliable, someone the promotion can count on, and his name is certainly big enough to where he can easily headline an event. But now that Sonnen has fought for two different titles and lost in both fights, would a loss to Maurcio “Shogun” Rua this Saturday put an end to these spotlight fights for Sonnen?

If Sonnen loses, it would be his third straight defeat. When a fighter in the UFC loses two or three fights in a row, they are more than likely on the verge of getting released. However, not Sonnen. “The American Gangster” recently signed a new contract with the UFC, so it’s set in stone that Sonnen will be a member of the UFC roster until he decides to hang up the gloves.

After announcing his new deal, Sonnen stated he will return to the middleweight division full-time, and he’s eyeing fights with Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva.

If Sonnen loses against “Shogun,” should he fight Belfort? Absolutely not. His name should be placed near the bottom of the 185-pound rankings, forcing him to work back up to the top. Remember, Sonnen hasn’t won a fight at middleweight since January 2012.

But even when he does go back to fighting at middleweight, he’ll either be on a pay-per-view main card or in the headliner or co-main event bout of a Fox/Fox Sports 1 card. Whether you like it or not, Sonnen will never be a prelim fighter. The 36-year-old has established himself as one of the most talked-about names in the UFC. His personality draws a crowd and clearly helps the promotion sell pay-per-views or ticket sales.

Even though he has never been a UFC champion, Sonnen is a crucial part of the rise of the sport. In the three pay-per-view events he has headlined—UFC 117, UFC 148 and UFC 159—the buys were 600,000, 925,000 and 550,000, respectively. You may say the reason for that is because of his opponents, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, who are two of the top fighters in the world. However, you have to admit that Sonnen convinced you to buy the event with the pre-fight hype that he provided.

The only fight Sonnen had no business being in was his fight with Jones, where Sonnen was coming off a loss. However, that decision by UFC officials had a lot to do with Sonnen’s previous willingness to fight the light heavyweight champion on just days’ notice to save UFC 151. If a fighter does little things like this, and especially when he stirs the pot and creates a perceived feud that captures the attention of fight fans, the UFC will respect him.

When Sonnen isn’t in the cage, where is he besides training? On Fuel TV, of course, co-hosting UFC Tonight alongside Kenny Florian. This just shows once again the drawing power of Sonnen and his ability to perform in front of the cameras, even though he doesn’t have a ton of broadcast experience.

We have to realize that the UFC needs someone like Sonnen. His ability to self-promote, create an outrageous persona in the lead-up to his fights and yet come off as a professional on UFC Tonight and in his role as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter has made Sonnen into a fighter that even casual fans know, and they will go out of their way to watch him.

Sonnen’s fight this Saturday in Boston against Shogun is a crucial one for the Oregon native if he wants to have more of  say in who he fights next at middleweight. It’s not like Sonnen calls up UFC President Dana White to demand a fight. Sonnen gets the word out on television or through social media, such as Twitter, and his large fan base immediately backs up his claim and demands the fight. This leads to multiple tweets sent to the UFC president, and the rest is history. Sonnen certainly has established the fact that he has a knack for talking his way into big fights.

Bottom line: as long as Sonnen is in the UFC, he will be in spotlight fights. It may not be the way things should be, based on Sonnen’s recent record, but the UFC is a business and Sonnen brings in the dollars.

Photo: Chael Sonnen (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.