Sonnen (28-11-1) is one of the UFC's best talkers and has wasted few chances over the years to lambaste the Brazilian champion, widely seen as the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter on the planet.
On Monday, during a media conference call to promote the July 7 fight in Las Vegas, the normally playful Silva (29-4) turned ugly and shot back.
"Well, first of all Chael's a criminal. He's been convicted of crimes," an animated Silva said via manager/interpreter Ed Soares. "He doesn't deserve to be inside the Octagon and when the time comes and the time is right, I'm going to break his face and break every one of the teeth in his mouth."
"What I'm going to do inside the Octagon is something that's going to change the image of the sport," Silva added. "I'm going to beat his ass like he's never been beaten before. I'm going to make sure that every one of his teeth are broken, his arms are broke, his legs are broke. He's not going to be able to walk out of the Octagon by himself, I'm going to guarantee that."
Sonnen will need the services of a plastic surgeon after the fight, Silva threw in for good measure.
Silva's emotional talk took UFC president Dana White by surprise.
"I've promoted every Anderson Silva fight since he's been in the UFC and I've never heard him talk even remotely close to this," said White, who was presiding over the media call.
When Silva disappeared later during the call, White didn't seem interested in getting him back. "I honestly don't know what else Anderson Silva could possibly say," he noted.
Sonnen also left the call early.
White said he expects more than a million pay-per-view buys for the bout. Monday's call may prompt a few more.
Sonnen is no stranger to making headlines.
In April 2011, Sonnen was sentenced in Oregon to two years of probation and a US$10,000 fine for a guilty plea on a federal charge of money-laundering arising from a real estate transaction in 2006. His real estate license was also revoked.
The legal woes prompted him to withdraw his Republican candidacy for the Oregon state legislature.
Sonnen subsequently tested positive for abnormally high levels of testosterone. The fighter attributed it to testosterone-replacement therapy but the California State Athletic Commission said he had not informed them of such and suspended him for six months.
The bumps along the way have done little to slow down Sonnen, who is talented at both fighting and self-promotion.
Sonnen seemed unfazed Monday by the tough talk from Silva.
"He thinks that's funny to say he's going to break my face. Tell him I've got two words for him — medium rare," said the 35-year-old Sonnen.
Sonnen almost beat Silva when they met UFC 117 in August 2010. The former all-American wrestler dominated Silva for the first four rounds only to fall victim to a triangle choke in the fifth round.
Silva, 37, showed no interest Monday in revisiting that fight. Instead he went back to the same theme.
"People who live in the past and things that in the past are in museums. Right now I'm focused on what's going to happen in the next few weeks. And right now playtime is over. I'm going to beat Chael like he's never been beaten before.
"This joke is over. There's no more talking. I know he's on the line listening and the game's over. I'm going to beat his ass out of the UFC. He's never going to want to fight again after I'm done with him."
Sonnen was willing to talk about their first meeting.
"All that happened was Anderson found himself in a fight for the first time," he said. "I think Anderson's a really good setup guy. He uses a lot of movements and motions to set guys up. But at the end of the day, his skills are amateur. You walk into a fist fight with your hands down, that's amateur.
"I treated him like an amateur the first time, he's going to look like an amateur this time."
Most would argue against that theory.
Silva has won 14 straight in the UFC and, having won the middleweight title at UFC 64 in October 2006, is the organization's longest-reigning champion.
When he seemed to lose interest in some of his 185-pound title defences, the UFC moved him briefly to light-heavyweight where he destroyed James (The Sandman) Irvin and former 205-pound champion Forrest Griffin.
In February at UFC 126, Silva dropped former champion Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort with a lightning-fast front kick to the face. In August, he stopped Japan's Yushin Okami in the second round.
White dismissed the suggestion that Silva, who speaks some English but likes to use a translator, could be an even bigger star if he tried a little harder.
"People aren't showing up to hear this guy give speeches. They're showing up to watch what this guy does in the Octagon and when he gets in there, this guy's an artist. This guy does what no other mixed martial artist is able to do."
Sonnen also rejected the idea that he has been flippant in his talk about Silva.
"I got serious about this fight a long time ago," said Sonnen. "I've been training for combat since I was nine years old and I've wanted to be the UFC champion since 1993.
"I couldn't think of a day in my life when this wasn't serious to me."
Silva said he was simply tired of Sonnen disrespecting him and his country.
"I'm going to beat him maybe the way his parents should have beat him to teach him some manners, because he's disrespectful, he's a criminal and I'm going to beat him up like he's never been beaten before."Suggest a correction