Sonnen clear favorite in Silva sweepstakes

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
5:11
PM ET
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
ESPN.com
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Brian Stann, Chael SonnenEd Mulholland for ESPN.comLooks like only Brian Stann, left, stands between Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen 2.
A long-lost rematch between Dan Henderson and Anderson Silva is not off the table, according to UFC president Dana White.

Following a news conference Wednesday, White admitted the UFC would consider giving the 41-year-old Henderson another crack at Silva should he defeat Mauricio Rua next month at UFC 139. Henderson lost to Silva via submission in 2008.

White even took it a step further, saying the rematch might have been made already if Silva weren’t currently recovering from a non-serious shoulder injury.

“If [Silva] was able to fight, I probably would have done him and Dan Henderson,” said White, according to a report from MMAjunkie.com.

The fact is, however, none of that talk means anything if Chael Sonnen defeats Brian Stann this weekend at UFC 136. The promotion has wanted to put Sonnen back in the cage with Silva ever since their thrilling title fight in August 2010 -- which Silva won via submission.

Originally, it was supposed to happen immediately, but that fell through when the California State Athletic Commission suspended Sonnen for elevated testosterone levels following a well-documented hearing.

Earlier this year, the UFC tried to cast Sonnen as a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series opposite Michael Bisping, with the intention of awarding the winner of that fight with a title shot. Again, those plans were derailed when Sonnen failed to receive a license from the commission in Nevada.

To think the UFC would walk away from a Sonnen versus Silva rematch now, when it can finally happen and makes sense, seems unlikely.
[+] EnlargeDan Henderson
Jody Gomez for ESPN.comSit and wait: A case of bad luck left Dan Henderson out of the Anderson Silva sweepstakes.

There’s no shortage of incentives for the promotion to make that fight -- most notably, money. Although the first fight, UFC 117 in Oakland, reportedly fell short of industry expectations in terms of pay-per-view buys, many estimated a second fight between the two could generate a number closer to 1 million.

Henderson, although a legend in the sport, would struggle to pull those numbers. Not to mention, his November fight against Rua is at 205 pounds. He hasn’t fought at middleweight since a five-round loss to Jake Shields in April 2010.

And where does all of this leave Stann? It’s hard to say.

The UFC has refrained from calling Saturday’s fight a No. 1 contender’s fight -- which has prompted many to speculate that’s the case for Sonnen, but not Stann. White refuted that claim to media members Wednesday.

“How could you feel that if Sonnen wins, he deserves a shot at the title but if not, Stann doesn’t?” said White, according to MMAjunkie.com. “Stann’s been on a tear. He beat some good guys and looked good doing it.”

While that’s true, Stann doesn’t carry the star power of either Sonnen or Henderson. More than likely, a win Saturday means Stann doesn’t hear from the UFC until after the result is known of the Henderson and Rua fight.

Basically, what we have here is a 37-year-old middleweight champion in Silva. At this stage in his career, you want him in the most lucrative matchups possible. Right now, that’s Sonnen, Henderson, Stann -- in that order.

Henderson is hoping a win over Rua in November might set him up for a Silva rematch. But if Sonnen wins Saturday, he’ll likely know that’s not an option well before he steps in the cage.

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