Although Chael Sonnen's name no longer gets injected into the discussion of the UFC's elite,"The American Gangster" undeniably remains one of the company's most polarizing characters.
But two straight devastating TKO losses in title fights have some doubting that Sonnen's notoriously exciting persona will return before his main-event bout with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC on Fox Sports 1.
More specifically, will recent woes persuade Sonnen to unveil a more brash character—if that's feasible—or a more humble version of himself, similar to the one seen on season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter?
The American Gangster's explanation for picking a fight with Rua on UFC Tonight should serve as an indicator that Sonnen fans should expect to witness some of his greatest antics in the near future.
I went after Wanderlei and I was quite candid. I went after Wanderlei because he's the worst guy I could find, record-wise. He's the worst fighter in the UFC. I know what you're thinking. ‘What about Cro Cop?' You're right, Cro Cop was terrible, but, Wanderlei's record was actually a bit worse. I couldn't get Wanderlei, so I said, ‘Why don't I fight the guy that destroyed Wanderlei for years in the practice room?' And that brings us to Shogun. I like Shogun. I have nothing against Shogun, this is just good solid competition. But, Wanderlei did this to you Shogun.
Sonnen's perpetual animosity toward Brazilian fighters like Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Wanderlei Silva also suggests that his trash talking will escalate to new heights in preparation for Rua.
Sonnen said the following via The Telegraph regarding the decision of Nogueira's younger brother, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, to pull out of his fight with Rua at UFC 161:
Little Chicken Belly Nog pulled the same scumbag move that he does every time, lets the UFC put out posters, commercials, doing everything to promote him, knowing full well he's not going to do the fight. Once again he calls in sick, three weeks early. In no industry on earth can you do that. Nobody can call their boss and say 'Hey, boss, 20 days from now, I'm not going to feel good.' So he calls in sick three weeks early. It was a ruse from the beginning, and basically, I just wanted to help out.
Several years into his volatile career, Sonnen spawned the idea that his personality—chiefly his humor—could help him land the significant fights he'd always yearned for.
The long-time Team Quest member believed from the get-go that his wrestling pedigree and his rare brand of grit gave him an edge over the lion's share of the world's best middleweights and light heavyweights.
But the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler didn't fully delve into a Muhammad Ali-like act until he began promoting his first scrap with Anderson Silva at UFC 117.
Since then, the 36-year-old Sonnen has utterly captivated heaps of fans with his talents in the area of linguistic warfare.
With each fight, regardless of his opponent, The American Gangster will continue to become more refined in the art of self promotion. Expect to hear a plethora Sonnen one-liners and quips in the days and weeks leading up to UFC on Fox Sports 1, and then expect to see Sonnen to eat his words in the Octagon afterward.