Chael Sonnen's 10 Best Trash-Talking Moments
He may not own a UFC belt, but Chael Sonnen makes a prime Muhammad Ali seem like an amateur trash talker.
Sonnen doesn't seem to care whether fans love him or hate him. Truth be told, the 36-year-old Oregonian just wants people to talk about him.
"The American Gangster" has seemingly gotten what he yearned for, using his linguistic prowess to become one of the most polarizing athletes in MMA.
Boxing legend Mike Tyson put it bluntly when asked by Fuel TV's Ariel Helwani whether he thought Ali or Sonnen was the better trash talker.
"Oh Chael Sonnen. Chael. Chael talks too much. Because I think Chael believes what he say. Chael. Chael hands down. Nobody talks more s*** than Chael."
The following list exemplifies why The American Gangster's personality has become so famous (and infamous). Here are the 10 best Sonnen trash-talking moments.
10. Sonnen's Rant at UFC on Fox 2 Pre-Fight Press Conference
Before fighting Michael Bisping at UFC on Fox 2, Sonnen made himself the star of the event's pre-fight presser, primarily by retracting focus from Bisping and thrusting it on a potential rematch with Anderson Silva.
Well listen. I believe that I'm the true champion. This is the true UFC belt. This was Anderson Silva's belt [and] I took his belt like a gangster in the night. I walked in and took it like a welcher on a football bet. If he wants his belt back, he can come and get it. But as far as I'm concerned, he's as relevant as Mike Tyson and the only thing he hasn't done is announce his retirement. He should paint his face, gain a 100 pounds, sit in the third row and hope that somebody remembers who they are, because neither of those guys matter anymore.
Sonnen may have been less focused on Bisping than Silva, but his game plan ultimately paid dividends. The American Gangster edged Bisping on all the scorecards for a unanimous decision. Roughly three months later, Sonnen landed the bout he wanted, a rematch with "The Spider" at UFC 148.
9. Sonnen Plants the Seed for Future Fight with Jon Jones After UFC 151 Debacle
Sonnen wasn't even on Jon Jones' radar when Dan Henderson went down with an injury weeks before UFC 151. However, after UFC president Dana White could only find one replacement for Jones—Sonnen—The American Gangster suddenly had leverage in the light heavyweight division.
And even though his last fight at 205 pounds was a submission loss to Renato Sobral in 2005, Sonnen went on SportsCenter to call Jones out, making light of his DWI arrest in the process.
I just don’t know why he won’t fight me next Saturday, I mean what else does he have to do? Is there like a wine tasting at the local racetrack or something I haven’t heard about? I don’t know what his deal is. Maybe Dana didn’t make it clear enough that he was willing to fly Jones out, maybe Jon thought he had to drive.
Few, with the exception of White and Sonnen, believed that The American Gangster deserved a shot at Jones. But following Jones' win over Vitor Belfort at UFC 152, "Bones" decided that he'd had enough of Sonnen's mouth.
Roughly eight months after taking to SportsCenter to voice his opinion, Sonnen jived his way into his third UFC title shot. Jones may have won the fight and kept his belt, but Sonnen still got what he wanted—another crack at UFC gold.
8. Sonnen Silences Heckler at 2013 UFC Fan Expo
Sonnen may unveil his most entertaining jokes at opportune times against future and past opponents. But the three-time title challenger doesn't hesitate to fire back when put on the spot—even if the response stems from a question asked by a fan during a Q&A.
The insult backfired for Smallwood, however, and Sonnen's wit and gift to control a crowd made the unknown fighter from Oklahoma look foolish.
Spit it out brother. You're putting everyone to sleep, man. I'm about to come down there and whoop your ass in a second. ... Real talk, stupid. Speak English. I don't speak ghetto. I don't even know what real talk means. Here's real talk dummy. If you don't get to the end of the line, I'm going to come down there and warm up on you before I talk care of LeBron [James] later tonight.
Smallwood, who lost via rear-naked choke in 56 seconds to Kelvin Gastelum at Cage Rage: On The River 2 in July 2011, backed down from Sonnen, apparently realizing he was outmatched both physically and intellectually.
7. Sonnen Tells Joe Rogan He's Better Than Jon Jones, Sean Combs and John Holmes
Sonnen offered up several outlandish comments about light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones before their bout at UFC 159. The American Gangster even named "The Jon Jones Special Pizza" (loaded with chicken and full of cheese) after Jones at his restaurant in Oregon.
But three months before his scheduled bout with Jones, Sonnen made even Jones crack up with laughter following this statement in an interview with the UFC's Joe Rogan:
"Joe, I don't promote fights, I pick fights. I'm better than Jon Jones. I'm better than Sean Combs. I am even better than John Holmes."
The statement sounded even more comical after Jones landed three takedowns in the first round and pounded Sonnen out with elbows in punches in just 4:33 at UFC 159.
Not surprisingly, Sonnen, after just two bouts at 205 pounds, announced that he'll move back to middleweight after his upcoming bout with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC Fight Night 26 on Fox Sports 1.
6. Sonnen Proclaims UFC 148 Will Be "One More for the Bad Guy"
A multi-year trash-talking campaign against Anderson Silva reached its apex for Sonnen in the days leading up to their rematch at UFC 148.
Just days after Silva used a pre-fight media call via MMAFighting.com to unload on Sonnen, The American Gangster grabbed the microphone at the UFC 148 pre-fight press conference and made a classic prediction for the rematch.
He's a good durable fighter. He's the champion, but I am the best, and there can be only one, and I'm not going to make any apologies for that. He's done a good, solid job. He's a durable guy. I'm a world-class athlete. He's a martial artist [and] I'm a cage fighter and there's a tremendous difference. And on Saturday night, there's going to be one more in the win column, one more for the highlight reel and one more for the bad guy.
Although he seemed supremely confident, Sonnen got humiliated by Silva just days after making this remark. Still, The American Gangster had the right idea in attempting to be so self-assured with Silva, even if it was just a facade.
5. Sonnen Issues Warning in Faceoff with Bisping Before UFC on Fox 2
Less than six months after losing to Anderson Silva at UFC 117, Sonnen agreed to a bout with surging middleweight contender Michael Bisping at UFC on Fox 2.
Bisping was riding a four-fight winning streak that included TKO victories over Jorge Rivera and Jason Miller, but that didn't stop Sonnen from using verbal warfare to try and intimidate the The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 winner.
With only Fuel TV's Ariel Helwani in between them, Bisping and Sonnen squared off for one last pre-fight interview. Here's what The American Gangster opened up with to Bisping:
I don't walk around looking into cameras and telling people I'm the best fighter in the world just to hear myself talk. I say it for the same reason they put warnings on packages of cigarettes, and fighting Chael Sonnen may be hazardous to one's health.
Bisping disagreed with Sonnen's sentiments, although he failed to prove it in the Octagon with the former University of Oregon wrestler.
Sonnen backed up his words, scoring four takedowns and outstriking Bisping 135-102 en route to a unanimous decision.
4. Sonnen Backhands Brazilian Culture in Build-Up to Rematch with Anderson Silva
Few reporters in Brazil applauded Sonnen's backhanded comments regarding Brazilian culture at the UFC 148 pre-fight press conference in April 2012.
But with Silva sitting to his right and a crowd of Brazilian reporters in front of him, Sonnen confidently blurted out an extraordinarily offensive and controversial statement regarding their country.
As far as my impression [of Brazil], it's a lot like America. When I was a little kid, I remember going outside. I'd sit around with me friends, we'd talk about the latest technology in medicine and gaming and American ingenuity and I look outside and Anderson and the Brazilian kids are sittin' outside playing in the mud ... so, it was really a lot like it.
Granted, his remarks were unwarranted and baseless, but Brazilians recognized that Sonnen's antics that day on foreign soil proved his authenticity.
Even if he's insulting and pretentious, at least Sonnen has the guts to say what he wants when he wants, a fact that even his worst enemies must respect.
3. Sonnen Explains to Fellow 205-Pounders Why He Deserved a Crack at Jon Jones
In the midst of a verbal tirade that The American Gangster launched on longtime light heavyweight linchpin Jon Jones, Sonnen turned his attention to the fighters he leapfrogged to fight "Bones."
Among other top-tier light heavyweights, Sonnen directed the following response toward former light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida during a media conference call for The Ultimate Fighter 17, via MMAWeekly.com.
Guys always get jealous or envious of an opportunity, but they never wanna walk out to the mound and point to the crowd and tell them where they're going to hit the ball. I will. I'll call my shots. And as far as talking my way into it. What do I care about that? So what I talked my way into it. I wanted it and I got it. I talked a cat out of a tree earlier today. I'll do whatever I want.
Sonnen, who lost to Anderson Silva and then accepted a title fight with Jones at light heavyweight—a division he hadn't competed in since 2005—refused to apologize to any top-tier fighter at 205 pounds.
After all, when Dan Henderson went down with an injury before UFC 151, Sonnen stepped up and offered his services against one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world on short notice.
2. Sonnen Crosses the Line with Outrageous Nogueira Brothers Story
Since his first bout with Anderson Silva at UFC 117, Sonnen has voiced his disdain for Brazilian fighters, particularly twin brothers Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
After verbally assaulting Brazilians Wanderlei Silva and Anderson Silva earlier in the interview, Sonnen offered these sentiments to Ariel Helwani, via Aol.com, regarding the Nogueira brothers:
I was in Las Vegas when the Nogueira brothers first touched down in America. There was a bus, this is a true story. There was a bus that pulled up to a red light, and Little Nog tried to feed it a carrot, while Big Nog was petting it. He thought it was a horse. This really happened. He tried to feed a bus a carrot, and now you're telling me this country has computers? I didn't know that!
Respected figures in the MMA community since the early 2000s, the Nogueira brothers typically don't get targeted by outspoken American fighters, especially those who fight in weight classes below them.
With Sonnen dropping back to middleweight for the last five fights on his UFC contract, it's unlikely that a bout with either of the Nogueira brothers will ever materialize, although it sure would be captivating.
1. Chael Threatens and Discredits Wanderlei Silva Before UFC 132
Of the handful of UFC peers whom Sonnen has targeted, none got a more epic tongue lashing than middleweight legend Wanderlei Silva.
During a 2011 interview with Ariel Helwani via Aol.com, Sonnen defamed "The Axe Murderer" and minimized his relevance before offering the following in regard to their ongoing feud:
Wanderlei, you are an immigrant from Brazil. I am a gangster from America. Are you sure you wanna play that game with me? Listen Wanderlei, I will do a home invasion on you. I will cut the power to your house and the next thing you'll hear is me climbing up your stairs in a pair of night vision goggles I bought in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine. I'll pick the lock to the master room door, take a picture of you in bed with the Nogueira brothers working on your jiu-jitsu. I'll take said photograph, post it at www.dorksfrombrazil.com, password—not required, username—not required. That, Wanderlei, is how you threaten someone. Dummy.
Sonnen went on to explain how he believed some of Silva's fights in Japan's Pride Fighting Championships were thrown. He also all but guaranteed Helwani that The Axe Murderer would never accept a bout with him, even after launching his war of words.
The American Gangster finished the interview by taking shots at Silva's home country of Brazil and his surname, saying: "I want an easy fight. Anderson Silva [or] Wanderlei Silva. Either of the Silvas. Bigfoot Silva. They all suck. Give me a Silva."