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UFC 136 fight card: Chael Sonnen reluctantly looks to return to relevance at Brian Stann's expense

He's been suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Copped a plea in a federal investigation. Sat on the sidelines for more than one year.

And all along the way, former number one UFC middleweight contender, Chael Sonnen, has professed his innocence, even when the evidence against him was irrefutable. Sonnen, you see, can seemingly talk his way out of any situation, it doesn't even matter if his outrageous remarks are captured on a voice recorder.

He'll deny, deny, deny.

One thing he can't deny, however, is his respect for Brian Stann, a United States military veteran who has extensive combat experience defending freedom abroad in dangerous war-torn nation's such as Iraq. Sonnen, in fact, admitted that the prospect of fighting "All American" at UFC 136 in Houston, Texas, later this evening (Oct. 8, 2011) kept him awake at night.

Sonnen has since come to terms with the match up, but he has done so in a remarkably reticent fashion.

Indeed, the outrageously outspoken Oregonian has bit his lip. Under any other "normal" circumstance, Sonnen would have done just about everything (bold-faced lies and hyperbole included) to not only ensure that everyone was well aware that this is his first fight inside the Octagon in more than a year, but also cleared their schedules to eagerly watch his triumphant return.

He's the UFC's comical carnival barker. A master at self promotion. Perhaps the best in the business.

But, he just isn't himself. He can't be because of his opponent, a likable, selfless, 185-pound contender on a three-fight win streak who just so happens to share the same goal: A title shot against reigning division champion, Anderson Silva.

To hear Sonnen tell it, tonight is his first title defense. He already defeated "The Spider" at UFC 117 in Aug. 2010, beating up the Brazilian in a 23-minute fight like he was his bitch. It's irrelevant that Silva actually won the fight with a last-minute triangle choke in the fifth and final round. He didn't win that fight, he just got lucky.

It's vintage Sonnen speak. However, we'll have to wait to see how he handles Stann this evening if we expect to hear it again anytime soon. For now, silence.

Shhhhhhhhhh .... nothing to see here. 

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