Chael Sonnen will return to action on March 20, 2016 when he faces Michael Bisping on the UR Fight card in a grappling match at City Centre in Phoenix, AZ,
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title contender is retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) competition, but he did take part in grappling bouts at Metamoris 6 last year and Metamoris 4 in 2014.
Sonnen, 37, was a guest on SiriusXM Fight Club recently and spoke to hosts RJ Clifford and Michael Stets about the upcoming match against "The Count."
"I'm in training for it and I'll give you a spoiler now, Bisping has no chance," Sonnen boasted.
When the two squared off in the Octagon back at UFC on FOX 2 in January of 2012, Sonnen won a unanimous decision in a very closely-contested fight. But now Bisping's best attributes will be on the shelf, while Sonnen's will all be readily at his disposal.
The current ESPN MMA analyst and host of the "You're Welcome" podcast knows the matchup favors him, but he went out of his way to praise Bisping for taking the challenge and for being a tough competitor his whole career.
"So, Michael Bisping -- in fairness -- is a legit tough guy," Sonnen raved. "And there are so many people in the UFC that pretend to be or claim to be and then pull out and they have all these excuses. Michael Bisping is a legitimate bad ass. He will take on anybody anywhere. You take this situation, which does favor me right? He is a kickboxer. That is his background and I come from a wrestling background. So he is coming into my turf. There is no weigh ins for this event so not only is he walking into my skill set, I'm also going to have a size advantage. That's just a reality. There is no weight. Michael Bisping jumped at the chance.
"You wouldn't believe how many fighters... There is a huge purse on this; they are paying a ton of money," he continued. "You wouldn't believe how many guys we couldn't get to do it. I felt like I had this golden ticket of an opponent that I could give this to somebody and you'd be stunned at how many people said no. I asked Michael Bisping in a text message and he wrote me back instantly 'hell yes' with three exclamation points and that was it. I forwarded him the promoter's number and he's in. He then goes and beats Anderson Silva. He gets like 18 stitches and the promoter is calling the next day because they're is sure he is going to pull out and he says, 'no the stitches will be out in a week. I'll see you on March 20th.' I don't know why the guy isn't the most popular fighter in the world."
So who exactly were the other potential opponents?
"We just offered the match out to a lot of guys who just had some trouble," he explained. "It was supposed to be Rampage and Rampage was in. We signed the contract and about five hours after we signed Rampage called and goes, 'man I got a problem. Bellator is going to step in front of this.' So Rampage was out. We went to Randy Couture. Randy was in and once he checked the date he said, 'Man, I got a movie going on I just simply can't be in Arizona.' I went to Forrest Griffin. Forrest liked it but, again, he had a dispute because he has a contract with UFC. I went to Rashad. Rashad had a fight with Shogun lined up, which has now changed to Glover as of 24 hours ago. So he couldn't do it. I then went to Nick Diaz. Nick Diaz said yes, but he didn't follow up and it was a major time crunch. I was just about to leave town to do a show and I had to have this done in three hours. We missed the boat on that. I sent it to Michael Bisping and he wrote me back and that was it."
Did he rib the English veteran on being sixth on the list?
"Well he was the sixth choice because he was the toughest of the bunch," Sonnen said. "I wasn't looking to take on the number one contender. I was looking to go get some grappling in and get a paycheck, but Bisping threw a wrench in those plans. I've had enough of Bisping, if I never had to compete with that guy again it would be fine with me."
UR Fight will also feature a wrestling match between Rey Mysterio Jr. and Kurt Angle, a boxing match between Roy Jones Jr. and contest winner Vyron Phillips, and an MMA bout between Dan Severn and Tank Abbott.