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Sonnen: History says Mayweather-McGregor will happen

UFC president Dana White made headlines last week when he offered retired boxer Floyd Mayweather and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor $25 million apiece to meet in a professional boxing match.

Not surprisingly, Chael Sonnen -- the outspoken fighter, ESPN analyst and grappling promoter -- has an opinion on White's offer.

Sonnen, who is set to resume his MMA career on Saturday against Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170 in Los Angeles (9 p.m. ET, Spike TV/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3), said White was smart to enter the discussion, which began earlier this year when Mayweather offered McGregor $15 million for the same fight.

"Here's the psychology behind that," Sonnen told ESPN's 5ive Rounds podcast. "Conor McGregor is under contract with [the UFC]. They don't want him to go do the fight. But at the same time, it's hard to tell a guy, 'No.' Floyd Mayweather offers $15 million. When you offer $25 million to each, you're offering Conor essentially double what the competition offered him and Floyd one-eighth of what he's willing to do it for.

"So now, you've protected the only one you care about, which is your own guy. Now it's very hard for Conor to say, 'Hey, I want to go elsewhere. I want to be released. I want to sign with another promoter.' That was the play behind that."

In addition to protecting its stake in McGregor, Sonnen said the offer puts heat back on Mayweather in a sense.

Mayweather already shot down the $25 million offer, referring to White as a "f---ing comedian." Mayweather was guaranteed a base $32 million for his last fight against Andre Berto in 2015. His guaranteed purse to fight Manny Pacquiao in 2015 was $100 million.

"If Floyd is telling Conor and Dana, 'Your biggest star is only worth $15 million,' and Dana is saying, 'We'll pay you double,' it does put Floyd in the hot seat," Sonnen said. "It's the same rule as the playground: If you turn down a fight, you lose.

"So [if you're the UFC], if the offer is out there and Floyd doesn't want to do it, we win."

Games aside, Sonnen said he is "a believer" when it comes to chances the fight actually does come together.

"I think it's likely to happen," Sonnen said. "I can only tell you history. It's hard to predict the future. But in the history of fighting, if you have two marquee names, the hardest thing to do is to get them both to agree to a contest.

"In this case, we have both guys agreed. The media is chomping for it. The fans are supportive. The last one to the table is the promoter that wants to sign off. Historically speaking, the promoter is the first one. It's his idea. We've got all the hardest pieces of the puzzle together. The easy one is the only one that's left.

"I think it's very realistic and I'm not sure why people aren't understanding it."