Dan Henderson Says Giving Chael Sonnen a Title Shot Degrades the Sport of MMA

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst IOctober 18, 2012

Photo Courtesy of MMA Mania
Photo Courtesy of MMA Mania

Many fight fans were shocked yesterday when they saw UFC light heavyweight contender Dan Henderson blast UFC president Dana White for booking Chael Sonnen a title shot against Jon Jones next year. 

Henderson, a former Strikeforce and PRIDE champion as well as one of the most recognizable faces in the sport, is a longtime friend and training partner of Sonnen. 

After facing many questions from his fans, Henderson went back on Twitter Thursday morning to provide clarity on the issue: 

"And just to make it clear, I will always hv love for Chael and don't blame him for saying yes to a big opportunity. But giving him that fight rt now degrades the sport of Mma."

Sonnen, a former two-time middleweight title contender in the UFC, has not competed at light heavyweight since UFC 55 in October 2005, where he was submitted by Renato Sobral. 

However, shortly after losing to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva for the second time at UFC 148, "The American Gangster" decided to bump up a weight class to keep his title aspirations alive. 

The Team Quest standout has been verbally assaulting Jones on Twitter and in the media ever since Jones declined to fight him as a last-minute replacement for none other than Dan Henderson at UFC 151.

That coupled with this season's incredibly low ratings for The Ultimate Fighter led to Sonnen coaching season 17 of show opposite of Jones.

The two will meet in a title bout on April 27 at a venue to be determined. 

Upon hearing the news, Henderson tweeted yesterday: 

I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for the fans and just go to shit talking school. @danawhite

— Dan Henderson (@danhendo) October 17, 2012

In an interview with MMA Junkie, Sonnen addressed the matter of whether or not he deserves a title shot given the current landscape of the UFC's 205-pound division. 

"Welcome to life," he said. "We don't deserve things. You get what you get. And let's understand, not one of those fighters said, 'Hey Dana, I'll fight Chael. Let me prove that I'm the No. 1 contender.' Not one of them."

Sonnen also has no problem with anyone who believes his microphone skills got him another title shot, as opposed to his fighting ability. 

"... so what I talk my way into it. I wanted it and I got it. I talked a cat out of a tree earlier today ... "I've got plenty of jobs that I wasn't qualified for and I got promoted anyway. At the end of it all, good for me and chalk one more up for the bad guy."

Henderson has now been on the shelf for nearly a year after his Fight of the Year victory over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139. 

A title eliminator bout with Lyoto Machida was heavily rumored for Henderson prior to the Jones vs. Sonnen announcement, but whether or not that fight happens is still up in the air.