While the Internet MMA community hangs on every word that UFC 148’s Chael Sonnen says, it’s somewhat surprising to see other top-level fighters come out and admit that they, too, listen to the middleweight No. 1 contender.
Current UFC interim bantamweight title contender Urijah Faber, a fighter well-known for his friendly personality even during fights, thinks that fighters like Sonnen are filling what could be a big void without them.
“I think this sport needs guys like Chael Sonnen,” Faber said at a recent question-and-answer session in Las Vegas.
Other fighters haven’t been quite so endearing to the colorful personality of Sonnen, but perhaps Faber has warmed up to him after years of interacting with him.
Their college wrestling careers overlapped, as both men wrestled on the West Coast: Sonnen at the University of Oregon and Faber at the University of California, Davis.
It was during those years that the two future UFC superstars would first meet.
Their time together also gave Faber a deeper insight into exactly what created the Chael Sonnen we all see today.
“The guy was coming over from the WEC as world champion and then came over and got put on the undercard for the UFC,” Faber explained. “I think he chose to make a switch and said, ‘I need to stand out in this sport, and just being the nice, intelligent guy that I am is not enough.’"
Sonnen himself and many of his training partners say that the persona Sonnen upholds is the same thing that they see every day in camp.
But Faber isn’t buying it.
“He probably won’t admit to that, but the guy made a switch and decided, 'Hey, I’m gonna stand out in this sport. I’m gonna create my own opportunities.' And he does it in an interesting way that people either really hate or really love."