Chael Sonnen and Nick Diaz: Close Your Mouths and Raise Your Fists

James CCorrespondent INovember 16, 2011

Mean Mugging and Stockton Slapping his way to a title shot.
Mean Mugging and Stockton Slapping his way to a title shot.Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Let your fists do the talking.

The adage seems to have gone by the wayside, as more and more, fighters are finding success by effectively ranting against their opponents.

Opponents are not the only targets, though. It could be their countrymen, their camp, their previous opponents, wives or sponsors.

At the sport's inception and until the last two years, mixed martial artists were closer to their Roman counterparts, the gladiators, than their boxing brethren. They gave somewhat canned interviews and then got into the cage and fought.

Chael Sonnen wasn't a star; he was just a wrestler who couldn't defend a triangle.

He's still that, but now his mouth is a star. And not in a Jenna Jameson sense.

Chael has revitalized his career by being loud. Not just loud, but purposely offensive. Over the top at every opportunity and more a character than an actual fighter. People who had never really watched the sport before were drawn in by his insults to Lance Armstrong and his subsequent denial.

This is still the same man who lost to Demian Maia without being hit by a single damaging strike.

And yet, despite being finished by an injured Silva and being suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, he's back in title contention after defeating a man with zero discernible grappling ability in Brian Stann.

Nick Diaz was let go from the UFC after three consecutive defeats against wrestlers. One was above average, Diego Sanchez. One was average at best, Joe Riggs, and one was good, but undersized, Sean Sherk. Three straight times, Diaz was taken down, controlled and pounded on for three rounds.

The Stockton Slapfighter has yet to face a wrestler his size and win, to show a change in these glaring deficiencies.

He has made up for this by throwing middle fingers, complaining about his pay scale (despite being paid huge amounts for a non-UFC title holder), and generally spreading vitriol at anyone unfortunate enough to interview him.

He's now challenging for the UFC Welterweight title.

Simply mentioning the names Josh Koscheck or Brock Lesnar immediately conjure up the images and sounds of spreading discontent.

These real-life Internet trolls have made a career not out of being the best fighter, but being the best talker. And while I previously would not have cared whether they pulled these shenanigans, it has begun to affect better, harder working fighters who are soft-spoken.

Carlos Condit, who found a bit of fortune after picking up Diaz's ill-deserved title shot, found himself a victim of bad luck when the champ was injured, and in a worse place after Nick Diaz's schoolyard antics earned him a crack at Gentleman Georges.

Mark Munoz, after putting on a top-notch performance against Chris Leben, which was hot off the heels of a well deserved victory over former title contender Demian Maia... can't even smell the gold-and-leather strap as long as the breath from Chael's rants lingers in the room.

The bottom line: It's fine when it's entertainment, but when it starts turning to a necessity to earn a title shot, we need to remind our fighters of their job description:

Shut up and Fight!