Sonnen returning to middleweight

Updated: July 24, 2013, 1:24 AM ET
By Frankin McNeil | ESPN.com

Chael Sonnen will return to the middleweight division after his Aug. 17 light heavyweight bout with Mauricio Rua in Boston. The former UFC No. 1 middleweight contender revealed his decision Tuesday night on Fuel TV.

In addition, Sonnen announced that he recently signed a new five-fight contract with UFC. Sonnen also has a new training team.

After a long run with Team Quest in Portland, Ore., he will now conduct his prefight preparations at Reign Training Center in Lake Forest, Calif. Middleweight contender Mark Munoz is the head coach at Reign Training Center.

The talkative Sonnen wasted little time calling out the middleweights he most wants to face inside the Octagon upon his return.

"There are two guys I want to get matched up with, first there's Vitor Belfort because he's awesome. And the second is Wanderlei [Silva], who I've just found out is going back to middleweight," Sonnen said. "The landscape has completely changed. I have a new contract and I'm returning to the weight class."

If Sonnen is able to secure a fight with Belfort, he would immediately put himself back in middleweight title contention with a victory. Belfort is currently ranked third among 185-pound fighters by ESPN.com; Sonnen is sixth.

The 36-year-old Sonnen (27-13-1) has lost two in a row. He suffered a second-round TKO at 148 in July 2012 to then-middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

In his next outing, Sonnen moved to light heavyweight for a title shot against champion Jon Jones on April 27 at UFC 159 in Newark, N.J. Jones retained his 205-pound belt with a first-round TKO.

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