Chael Sonnen is one of the most controversial fighters in the short history of mixed martial arts. It's easy to read that broad statement as hyperbole—until you spend a moment perusing message boards or Twitter. After five minutes you'll quickly understand that Sonnen provokes emotions like few fighters ever have.
You'll find no indifferent fans when the conversation turns to Sonnen. He is either beloved or cursed; there is no middle ground. And Sonnen works very hard to keep it that way.
Much of the Sonnen chatter centers on things outside the cage—his legal misfortunes, allegations of drug use and scathing trash talk are typically the first topics of discussion. His talents inside the cage are an afterthought. In many ways that's a true shame.
While Sonnen is undeniably charismatic and verbose, both a masterful planner of material and quick on his feet, his skills in the cage at least equal his gifts outside it.
Sonnen is one of MMA's best wrestlers, in part because of the completely fearless way he closes the gap between himself and his opponents. He's willing to eat a punch or kick to get into the position he needs to be in, a sacrifice of self that has paid dividends.
What makes this man tick? A man who can discuss politics in an even-handed and intelligent way one minute and the next pretend he thinks they haven't yet introduced soap to the Brazilian people. A man who is a mat master, except when it seems to matter the most.
I've compiled an A-Z list of what makes Sonnen such an interesting man. Together let's take a look at one of the UFC's most compelling and controversial fighters.