Chael Sonnen Is the Smartest Man in the Room in All of MMAMarch 5, 2013
In a rare time where there are no UFC events coming up on the weekend, leave it to light heavyweight title contender Chael Sonnen to make everyone look in his direction. And what a brilliant stroke of genius it was.
With more than 280,000 followers on Twitter and not having said a personal word on the account since Saturday when he made a brief comment presumably about Wanderlei Silva, Sonnen unleashed a tirade aimed at a pair of unnamed MMA journalists on Monday that had everyone on the social networking site buzzing.
Sonnen ranted for 18 tweets throughout Monday afternoon as every writer who has ever attached MMA to their name wondered if the "Gangster from West Linn" had his sights set on them.
The guessing games continued throughout the day as Sonnen's name popped up dozens of times on Twitter, Facebook and every MMA message board in existence.
Now, Sonnen's feelings about this particular pair of journalists were likely very real. He felt the need to anonymously put them on notice that he was targeting them for detonation. The ripple effect throughout the MMA media, however, showed the true power that Chael Sonnen holds over all of us.
If anyone ever asks why is Chael Sonnen in the UFC 159 main event against Jon Jones when he hasn't fought at light heavyweight in more than five years, look no further than Monday for evidence.
If anyone is curious why every single thing Chael Sonnen says as an analyst on UFC Tonight later pops up as news on any number of MMA websites, look no further than Monday for evidence.
Chael Sonnen is just the smartest man in the room in the entire sport of mixed martial arts.
Monday was just the latest and clearest case of the Chael Sonnen phenomenon that continues to sweep MMA every time he talks, tweets or approaches a press conference.
Over the past few years, Sonnen has managed to become one of the Top Five draws in pay-per-view buys without ever holding a UFC title (although his unofficial reign, according to Sonnen, lasted for nearly a year). He's actually the only fighter in the Top Five that hasn't been a champion (the others are Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Rashad Evans).
He became a fixture during UFC on Fuel pre and post shows for almost every pay-per-view broadcast, and then eventually became such a popular analyst that Fuel TV revamped UFC Tonight and offered him a full time gig as co-host alongside Kenny Florian.
His Q&A sessions with fans are always among the most jam-packed in the industry, and he's one of the most requested athletes for interviews on the UFC roster. Sonnen is a regular on popular radio shows like The Jim Rome Show, where MMA fighters rarely find a slot outside of major fights coming up.
According to Sonnen's manager Mike Roberts of MMA Inc. who spoke to Bleacher Report on Monday, the Oregon native's stock isn't just rising inside the sport, but outside as well. Opportunities are flourishing at every turn, along with sponsorships tnat few athletes in MMA are getting these days.
Sonnen truly does have the Howard Stern effect in mixed martial arts. Everybody wants to see what he'll say next, no matter whether they love him or hate him. They tune in to see him, and that's all that counts.
Even those people that slam Sonnen, saying he hasn't earned his title shot or his talk is played out. You're still tagging him on Twitter, you're still posting about him on message boards and you're still watching him on TV.
There may not be another fighter in all of MMA that can demand that kind of attention.
Sonnen has capitalized on every part of the mixed martial arts scope from fighting to title shots to broadcasting to sponsorships to social networking to popularity. It's paying off in every sense of the phrase.
Whether he's talking about his upcoming fight against Jon Jones or how the Olympics screwed up by dropping wrestling from the 2020 games, Sonnen speaks and we all listen.
He's got a career already lined up after fighting and he's far from being finished in the cage.
So the next time someone thinks Chael Sonnen is just saying crazy things to get a reaction—whether those messages are aimed at Jon Jones, Anderson Silva or an anonymous journalist—chances are there is method to his madness and he's laughing all the way to the bank.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report.