Chael Sonnen: "I'm the Middleweight Champion About to Make His First Defense"
Chael Sonnen, who will be returning to action at UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard III on October 8, was on the latest episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. Sonnen discussed everything from not being allowed to go to Brazil to corner teammate, Yushin Okami to his upcoming fight with Brian Stann.
When Sonnen was asked about not being in the corner of Okami when he fought for the title, he explained:
"I became a big distraction. I wanted to help Yushin, but I became a big distraction and it got a little bit out of hand. The level of death threats got a little bit high. I got 10 death threats."
Sonnen also explained that one of Okami's sponsors said that they'd rather he not come to Brazil. Apparently, Chael wasn't all that upset about it, saying that he "wanted to be a part of it," but didn't want to distract from Okami. He only wanted to "show support."
A majority of the controversy and death threats stemmed from a previous interview Sonnen had done insulting the Nogueira brothers and essentially the entire country of Brazil. Despite not actually being on the card at UFC 134: Rio, Sonnen was a huge part of the event. He mentioned that "there are two major newspapers in Brazil. I was on the front page of one of them and I wasn't even on the card. I was flattered."
Despite all the insults towards Brazil, he did compliment them for their support of Brazilian fighters.
"I do like the passion that Brazil bring against me because it shows support for their countrymen. I like that they get like that. I think Brazil does it right. In North America, we don't support our countrymen. I know people who are American that want to see me lose to Anderson."
In America, it's commonplace for the fans to care more about fighter personality than fighter origin. Yes, American fans tend to dislike fighters like Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy, but they also dislike Americans like Josh Koscheck, while showing love for Georges St. Pierre and Junior Dos Santos.
Helwani then began asking about Yushin Okami's performance against Anderson Silva. Sonnen agreed with Helwani's assessment that Okami was timid.
"That wasn't Yushin. He did look timid. He never got started. He weighted in at 182 or 183 when he left here 15 pounds overweight. Possibly he got sick when he was there. Possibly. Maybe he's at 100 percent—I don't really know, but I do think it was peculiar that he was three pounds underweight for a title fight."
Sonnen may be making excuses for his friend, but he also may be taking a shot at Anderson Silva. Silva recently revealed that he came into the fight with an injured shoulder that he needed to be medicated for. Sonnen mentioned that a "Japanese guy like Yushin would never reveal that he was sick, not even 20 years later."
Okami did weigh in at 183, but in a championship bout, fighters aren't allowed the extra pound. Okami was two pounds underweight, but he didn't seem sickly at the weigh-ins. Again, Sonnen just seems to be speculating on why Okami didn't seem to be himself.
However, Sonnen wasn't too complimentary of Silva's performance, calling him the "model of inactivity. He landed two punches in seven minutes."
Despite his story about the Nogueira brothers petting a bus and trying to feed it a carrot, Sonnen did have kind words for Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and his knockout win over Brendan Schaub.
"Good for Big Nog. He took some time off. That's really hard to do. He's fighting in front of his home crowd. That's a lot of pressure. I think he had to overcome a few things and I admire that he did it. Like him or don't like him, Big Nog is an inspiration."
Helwani then turned the conversation towards the Jon Jones and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson spying story. Sonnen mentioned that he thinks it's common for word to get back to one's opponent, especially because "the MMA world is very small and with the help of Twitter, it's extremely small."
"The whole thing is ridiculous," says Sonnen, reminding everyone that he's posted training sessions online and that Randy Couture and Dan Henderson both have "open door policies" in regards to their training sessions. He went on to call Jones and Rampage both "whiny little babies. The other side is, when it's time to fight, they're as ruthless and devastatingly successful as the world has ever seen."
If we know anything about Rampage, he won't take those words kindly. Perhaps he'll be calling out Sonnen sometime soon and there will be more rumors about Sonnen jumping to light heavyweight.
In regards to the upcoming Strikeforce card, Sonnen mentions that he believes Daniel Cormier will defeat Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Josh Barnett will defeat Sergei Kharitonov.
And finally, the controversial Chael comes out again. In regards to his upcoming fight with Brian Stann, Sonnen says:
"The true middleweight champion is about to make his first defense. The greatest fighter of the day has to open for a guy named Jose. Actually, I demanded it happen. I demanded that I be done and showered by the time anyone from the Blackhouse team entered the arena."
Sonnen goes on to say that "I'm at peace with the fact that it's not going to be my best performance. I'm not going to be as good on that night as when I left, but I'm still the best." Chael claims that his 14 month layoff may cause some problems for him, but he's still the No. 1 middleweight in the world.
Sonnen also said that he'd "rather not be fighting Brian Stann," and that "it makes it a little bit easier to fight guys I don't like."
Helwani asked about the UFC on FOX, which Sonnen feels is "huge. That's such a big deal." He seems to agree that Dana White did the right thing by making the main event Cain Velasquez versus Junior Dos Santos. "Dos Santos won me over with his fight with Carwin, so because of that, I'm excited about it."
Finally, Sonnen closes by saying that he would be open to fighting Anderson Silva in Brazil.
"I'm definitely willing to go over there. There are some security concerns, but those guys and their blow darts don't scare me."
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