Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) revealed this weekend that Middleweight/Light Heavyweight contender and all-around big mouth Chael Sonnen is heading to Brazil to coach the third season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Brazil reality series opposite rival Wanderlei Silva. The way the ‘TUF’ formula works, after filming and interacting together while coaching a team of fighters, the two coaches face each other at a UFC event. So how does this match break down? UFC is going to hype it like the longest running, most heated rivalry off all time. Sonnen has said a lot of bad things about Brazil, and he may continue to spew insults generally aimed at the country, but by now most people have figured out Sonnen is doing a job. When he hypes a fight, he views it as a job. The hyping, the media, the talking and calling out of opponents, Sonnen is just being a good employee, and he knows it is good because he is making a lot more money than most UFC fighters. Somewhere along the line, Silva heard Sonnen talking about Brazil and Brazilians and he got pissed. It may not even have been aimed at the ‘Axe Murderer’ but something Sonnen said got under the Brazilian’s skin. Once Sonnen knew, he zeroed in on Silva directed some ‘Axe Murderer’ specific criticism at him, but again Sonnen was doing his job. Sonnen is going to be under a lot of pressure here. I’m not sure he is going to need a battalion of secret service deployed to protect him like the UFC will want us to believe, but he will have day to day pressures to deal with. Aside from the nut on the street, he will be coaching a team of Brazilian fighters. Though they are his team, their daily interactions could put Sonnen in certain situations that will affect him. Will he choose not to train and roll with his team, keeping to a strictly coaching role from the sidelines? If he does practice with the team, will he be tested? He will face these types of things for weeks before the fight. Strictly speaking, in a normal fight, you have to favor Sonnen at this point in both of their careers. But Sonnen is in for a long filming that culminates in a training cycle while the show airs and a fight with Wanderlei Silva. That match will also be in Brazil, and that will be a big advantage to Wanderlei. Look for a starter line on this fight to come out pretty close to dead even.
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