• UFC 133

Leben and Sonnen offered to fight Rashad - Dana

ESPN staff
July 14, 2011

UFC president Dana White has revealed both Chael Sonnen and Chris Leben offered to step in and fight Rashad Evans at UFC 133.

White needed options following the withdrawal of the injured Phil Davis, whose injury is not considered to be serious. The UFC president had a three-week window to find an opponent for Evans, and initially very few takers.

Tito Ortiz's first answer was no, citing personal reasons. Lyoto Machida then said yes, only to change his mind when he could not negotiate a similar payday to compatriot Anderson Silva.

In the end Ortiz performed a U-turn to set up a light-heavyweight rematch involving two former champions with Evans, after their first battle resulted in a draw.

With the chaos still settling, White found himself answering plenty of questions from the media, not least about who his options would have been had Ortiz not come to his rescue. The answer was potentially Leben or Sonnen from the middleweight division.

"We've got lots of guys that are animals, you know what I mean," Dana said on The Fight Fix. "Like Leben. Leben wanted the fight. Leben wanted to take the fight, Chael Sonnen wanted the fight.

"But those guys are 185-pounders. And I appreciate their desire, their fire but no, we want guys that are 205-pounders that are real fights at 205."

White also alluded to the difference between Evans and Machida, the first of whom was willing to accept any opponent, while the latter talked a good fight before finding a way to back out of the UFC 133 card.

"The one thing I really love and respect about Rashad Evans through this whole thing, it didn't matter," said White. "He says, 'It doesn't matter who you call and tell me I'm fighting, I'm ready. Whoever you get to fight, I'm ready to fight'.

"Obviously I'm pretty disappointed with [the Lyoto Machida camp]. Why are you calling me and terrorizing me all the time that you want to fight, you want to fight, you want to fight and then when a fight pops up like this, that's what you say? You know, it is what it is. Whatever."

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