Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva fight this Saturday at Bellator: NYC / Bellator 180. It’s a fight that is a long time in the making. A very long time. Silva and Sonnen are a combined 80 years old, with 40 years and nearly 100 fights of MMA experience between them.
Silva and Sonnen’s history goes back to the time when Chael Sonnen was involved in a rivalry with Anderson Silva. Wanderlei didn’t like the way Sonnen was talking about Brazil. Sonnen was apparently upset that this conversation was released.
Sonnen and Silva were first scheduled to fight at UFC 173 back in 2014 after they coached opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter. (Sonnen was still talking about Brazil.) Then it was pushed back a week. Then a couple months to UFC 175 because of an injury. Eventually, Wanderlei missed a drug test and was pulled from the fight. Then Sonnen failed a drug test and was pulled from the card. At that point, Sonnen retired.
Sonnen just came out of retirement to fight Tito Ortiz in January 2017 after 3 years off. This will be Silva’s first fight since March 2013. As I mentioned, it’s a fight a long time in the making.
Chael Sonnen, 40, has fought 45 times (29-15-1) since his career began in 1997. Wanderlei Silva, 41 on July 3rd, has fought 49 times (35-12-1 (1)) since his career began in 1996. These are two very elder statesman in MMA. Silva is a legend from his Pride days. Sonnen became one of the biggest names in the sport through his trash talk since his first fight against Anderson Silva.
Now they’re finally going to face off on Saturday. Years in the making. Decades into their careers. It’s the new reality for mixed martial arts. The legends match. It’s something we want to see, even if we aren’t supposed to admit it. It’s nostalgia and sport. It’s the only sport where it’s possible and it means something even if it really doesn’t. It’s still real to me dammit.