UFC Fight Night 26 results recap: What's next for Chael Sonnen?

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

After defeating Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the main event of UFC Fight Night 26 last night (Sat. Aug. 17, 2013) at TD Bank Garden in Boston, Mass., Chael Sonnen got back into the win column after back-to-back losses with a first-round submission victory. We discuss what's next for the former middleweight and light heavyweight title contender.

There is a feeling that everyone in the mixed martial arts (MMA) hemisphere may have had to take their foot out their mouth right after the UFC Fight Night 26 main event on Saturday night (Sat., Aug. 17, 2013) from TD Bank Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

The career of Chael Sonnen is alive and well.

A man who was known for having some of the worst submission defense in the world on a professional scale submitted Mauricio Rua, who has not tasted defeat in that fashion since 2007. Sonnen looked incredible from the beginning of the bell, charging Rua and taking him down at ease (watch highlights here). Although Rua tried to capitalize on some takedowns of his own, arguably the best wrestler in the sport showcased his talent and caught Rua in a skin-deep guillotine, forcing the former Chute Box legend to tap out 13 seconds short of the first round.

It was also his first "Submission of The Night" bonus in his entire Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career, only earning "Fight of the Night" honors before.

To think many people said Sonnen's career was in a dark place or the only way he was going to win was to lie on top of Rua for five rounds. Sonnen's shtick will never get old either -- another poem describing his dominant ways as well as an invidious callout of Wanderlei Silva, another Chute Box great and former "Shogun" training partner -- was the highlights of his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.

"Wanderlei Silva drives me insane," Sonnen told the media at the post-fight press conference. "He tells the media he wants to fight me. Wanderlei insists that fight has never been offered. That is a big marquee fight for years. This company puts on big marquee fights. To believe he has not been offered that fight is ridiculous and that pisses me off (watch the post-fight press conference here)."

Easily enough for Sonnen that may be the selling point of his potential bout with Silva, but there is no denying both men want that fight. Silva has reiterated that desire as of late and everyone remembers their awkward conversation, as they had to share a lift in the backseat of a car many months ago. That fight is too easy for the company to make -- it is a no-brainer, and it would draw a huge attraction from fans since Sonnen has proved he's more than just a journeyman right now in his career. He just revived his career while it was hanging on a string and if Sonnen would rather chase fights than titles at this point in his career, this fight makes all the sense in the world.

Sonnen has just become the man of the hour. Better yet, he's the most wanted man in all of the sport. Vitor Belfort immediately tweeted that he wants to face him, asking to shift the focus on him rather than his Brazilian countryman; Phil Davis also tweeted that he wants a piece of Sonnen after he saw what he did to "Shogun"; Lyoto Machida also expressed interest in a potential bout.

Whoever is next for Sonnen, he's got options.

Is it because they think he's an easy fight? Probably not. It's because they know Sonnen draws attention like no other man in the sport right now and a fight with Sonnen is as big as it could get. Inserting your name as Sonnen's next opponent means pre-fight trash-talk would be at an all-time high, promotions leading up to the fight would skyrocket their popularity and Sonnen is slightly guilty for playing the race card against Brazil, so there are a bunch of fighters from that country who would love to shut him up, hence the natural ability for bad blood to brew.

Right now Sonnen's aura is unmatched -- no other man in the sport could be 1-2 in his last three fights and get this amount of superstar treatment. He's the biggest draw in the sport right now and it does not look like he'll be fighting on free television anytime soon; new fans received a glimpse of his bread and butter during his post-fight interview and Sonnen has the ability to fishhook the population the moment they hear the words that come out of his mouth.

But still, it is tricky with Sonnen.

Surely the brass has a better understanding of Sonnen's wants versus his demands, since the fans and media get just about anything off the top of his head and that needs to be approached with a grain of salt. Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Jon Jones, Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida are all names that have been thrown up in the air -- as well as out of Sonnen's mouth -- these past few weeks and he will get one of those athletes.

But, deep down inside Sonnen must have the desire for another title run, even if he's too shy to admit it and that is understandable. One more win over a quality opponent (especially if he could finish one of those men besides Silva and Jones, who have fights coming up) would get him straight back into title contention.

Does Sonnen just want fights or fight that eventually lead to the title?

At this present time, he does not need to worry about his surroundings ... those will all unfold by themselves. He needs to do what is best for him and quite frankly, whatever he wants to do. He has a couple of big fights, alongside big paydays still ahead of him and although he is in his late-thirties, he could still hang with the big boys of the division. If it's Wanderlei he wants, it's Wanderlei he should get. Although one thing is for sure -- he is not going away any time soon and on Saturday night, it was one more win for the bad guy.

For more on "Shogun vs. Sonnen," click here, and for complete UFC Fight Night 26 results and blow-by-blow coverage of the night's entire action click here.

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