With WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho seeking professional help for substance abuse, Chael Sonnen now will face undefeated Bryan Baker at the March 26 event that is set to air LIVE on the Versus network at 9 p.m. ET.
The past month had been a soap opera of sorts for Sonnen with the barrage of rumors on whether or not Filho would defend his title in their scheduled rematch later this month.
During an interview last Friday with MMAWeekly.com, Sonnen put a human spin on the Filho situation.
Here's a snip:
"I've got a goal to beat Paulo in the ring, but that's it. I don't have a goal to beat him in life or for him to have a bad life. Sounds like he's maybe got a couple of things that he's working on outside of the ring and I really hope that goes well for him."
The Team Quest fighter goes on to reaffirm his goal of being WEC champion despite the Filho saga.
"If the title shot comes, great. If he's not ready to compete by then, and I'm purely speculating, what I would think is that at some point, (the WEC is) going to have to take that title away if he's not ever going to get in the ring."
Sonnen hopes to get back in the win column after his controversial loss to Filho last December. Riding a five-fight win streak, Chael was taking the fight to Filho before getting caught in an armbar late in the second round. Continually refusing to submit, the referee called the bout based on scream Sonnen let out.
Chael was granted a rematch based on those circumstances, but it hasn't panned out ... yet.
Bryan Baker is an up-and-coming middleweight. Currently training at American Kickboxing Academy, the All-American wrestler and Judo Black belt will face his toughest test to date against the cagey Sonnen.
It should be a nice complement to the main event of the evening between WEC Light Heavyweight Champion Doug Marshall and top contender, Brian Stann. To check out the remaining WEC official fight card click here.