Two-time UFC middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen is moving up a weight class to 205-pounds take on “The Ultimate Fighter” season one winner and former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas.
Rumors have swirled for the past few weeks that Sonnen was considering making a run in the light heavyweight division, and now it’s official.
Sonnen confirmed the bout with Griffin on the Aug. 14 episode of FUEL TV’s UFC Tonight news program.
Sonnen (27-12-1) has competed at light heavyweight before, but has spent the last several years as a middleweight establishing himself as one of the best 185-pound fighters on the planet. After two unsuccessful attempts at dethroning reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Sonnen was left in an unfortunate spot in the weight class as few fighters are ever granted a third chance at facing a champion after going 0-2. Sonnen cut upwards of 30 pounds to make middleweight and was one of the physically largest fighters in the division, so it is unlikely that he will be significantly overmatched by the size of fighters a light heavyweight. The 35-year-old has won two of his last three bouts and is 6-5 overall under the UFC banner.
Griffin (19-7) last competed against Tito Ortiz at UFC 148 on July 7, the same event where Sonnen fought and was defeated by Silva. Griffin defeated Ortiz by unanimous decision to win the trilogy between the two fighters and send Ortiz into retirement. The former light heavyweight champion is 3-1 in his last four bouts with the lone defeat coming at the hands of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. UFC president Dana White recently stated that he would like to see the 33-year-old retire from mixed martial arts, but it appears that will not be the case as he will take on one of the most controversial figures in the sport in Sonnen.
Dec. 29 will not be the first time Sonnen and Griffin have shared the cage. The two fought once before all the way back in Sept. 2003 under the IFC banner. Griffin won that bout by triangle choke submission at the 2:25 mark of the first round.
The Sonnen vs. Griffin bout will likely serve as the co-main event on the Dec. 29 fight card.
While the Dec. 29 UFC event has yet to be formally announced by the organization, a heavyweight championship bout between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez is expected to headline the event.
A location for the event, likely to be titled UFC 155, is unknown at this time. However, in recent years the New Year’s weekend UFC fight card have taken place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.