While neither man was willing to publicly say it before, there was always a sneaking suspicion that Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson were in cahoots with each other prior to the famously canceled UFC 151 event in Sept. 2012.
Now Sonnen has confirmed those suspicions by admitting that he in fact did know Henderson had injured his knee well before he withdrew from the UFC 151 main event and it was all a plan to "set up" the reigning light heavyweight champion.
On Sunday's episode of "UFC Tonight: Fight Edition" on FUEL TV, Sonnen, who is scheduled to fight Shogun Rua on Aug. 17, admitted he was tipped off about not only Henderson's injury but also Antonio Rogerio Nogueira's recent injury, which led to Sonnen getting matched up against Rua.
"You know, it really got put together through Little Nog's cowardice," Sonnen said. "I've been training for Shogun for a while. I knew this was going to happen. This kind of reminds me of the time me and Dan Henderson set up Jon Jones on eight days' notice."
Sonnen then turned to the camera and said, "he finally admitted it."
For those who don't remember, Sonnen offered to step in for the injured Henderson to challenge Jones just eight days prior to UFC 151 in order to "save" the pay-per-view (PPV) event.
A mere couple of weeks later, UFC President Dana White awarded Sonnen for his willingness to step up on short notice by giving the Oregon native a coaching spot opposite Jones on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show as well as a title shot at UFC 159.
Helwani noted in his report of the story that these most recent claims by Sonnen are a far cry from what was being said at the time of the incident last year, including quotes from both men.
"Chael didn't know anything about it," Henderson said around the time of UFC 151. "He had definitely not been training at all. My guys told me that Greg Jackson said in an interview that Chael was down training with me and getting ready for the fight and knew I was hurt. It was nothing like that at all. He wasn't even down here. I asked him if he wanted to come down and help me train a couple months ago, but he didn't come down."
Mike Roberts, manager to Sonnen at MMA, Inc., also shared a similar recollection of how everything played out.
"Everybody's saying that Chael knew about Dan being hurt, that's why he was talking about Jon (Jones). No, Chael was talking about Jon because Jon is the 205-pound champion and that is where Chael is shooting for; that's who he wants to fight."
Whether Sonnen is being honest about the fact he and Henderson tried to "set up" Jones is something the two longtime friends and training partners only really know.
The 35-year-old also claims he was aware of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira's back injury well before "Minotoro" pulled out of UFC 161 and that he was already preparing to fight Mauricio Rua ahead of the time he offered to step in and face him on two weeks notice.
The lesson learned here is that whether it was against Jones in Sept. 2012 or Rua in June 2012, Sonnen's willingness to step up on short notice has created fights for him that didn't even seem possible before he opened his mouth or posted a message on Twitter.