Have We Learned Nothing from Watching Chael Sonnen's Schtick?
In my dreams, there will come a day when MMA fans and media around the world stop taking the things that Chael Sonnen says when he's quite obviously building up a fight at face value.
This is not that day. And from the looks of it, that day isn't coming anytime soon.
On Sunday night's special edition of UFC Tonight, Sonnen said the following in regard to the way his fight with Shogun Rua (at UFC on Fox Sports 1-1 in August) came together (via MMA Fighting):
"You know, it really got put together through Little Nog's cowardice," Sonnen said. "I've been training for Shogun for a while. I knew this was going to happen. This kind of reminds me of the time me and Dan Henderson set up Jon Jones on eight days' notice."
Sonnen then turned to the camera and said, "he finally admitted it."
I shouldn't have to break this down for you, but apparently I do.
You see, when Sonnen uses terms like "cowardice" when referring to another UFC fighter, he's not being serious. This is what he does when he's building up a potential fight; just like his Portland pro wrestling heroes of old, Sonnen says things that are either a drastic exaggeration or, in some cases, a downright fib.
I won't call it lying, because you're supposed to be in on the act. Even though he's not winking at the camera, Sonnen says these things in such a manner that it's nearly impossible to take it as anything but a joke. Even if you know he's not serious, he's still doing his best to bring his own unique style into hyping up fights.
You know it's an act, because when you see Sonnen referring to the Nogueira brothers or Anderson Silva or Michael Bisping in any other setting, he's respectful and kind. He's encouraging. That's the real Chael Sonnen, whether you believe it or not, the same one that was on display through 12 weeks of the last season of The Ultimate Fighter.
But when Sonnen starts talking about cowardice and nefarious plots between him and Dan Henderson to set up Jon Jones, despite having denied it last fall, well, you can pretty much assume he's playing you.
It's incredible to me that these things are still being treated by fans and the media as legitimate news. But then again, comments from Dana White are consistently painted with the same brush, despite the rest of us learning over the course of the last five years that White will say nearly anything when he's in the business of promoting his fight cards.
Sonnen says plenty of things that are newsworthy, but we've come far enough that it's pretty easy to tell when he's in Fight Promoter Mode. Instead of reacting or treating these Sonnen-isms like they're legitimate news, let's all band together and enjoy them for what they really are: a quirky, fun and still unique (for MMA, at least) way of building up future fights.
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