Highlights From Chael Sonnen’s Fan Q&A: Talks Title, Belfort, Evans, TUF Coaching Gig and More
Chael Sonnen has captured the attention and respect of fight fans around the world – if not for his fighting, then certainly for his ability to talk. While in Manchester, England to coach Luke Barnatt to a Fight of the Night victory over Andrew Craig, Sonnen spoke to fans and answered their questions.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
Fans across the country have rallied behind Chael Sonnen since he first burst into the media’s attention during the build-up to his first, highly anticipated title fight against Anderson Silva. Since then, people have listened to Sonnen eagerly, and the fighter has talked his way into exceptional fame, two more title fights and a recurring broadcasting job for the UFC and FOX Sports.
This past weekend, Sonnen was in England for UFC Fight Night 30, where he helped corner Luke Barnatt to a victory over Andrew Craig. During the lead-up to the fight, Sonnen obliged the UFC by talking with fans in a Q & A session before the event’s weigh-ins, and the light heavyweight fighter talked about everything from his next fight to ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’
Fighting For Title
“I really think [winning the title] is the only point to our sport. When I started this, there was no money or fame; it was just about winning the championship. It was just about intrinsic value and trying to chase your own goals. For me, that is the world championship.
“As far as the weight, when I started we didn’t even have weight classes; it was everyone against everyone, so 185 or 205, that’s only 20 pounds, that’s basically the same for me.”
“I’ve been trying to fight Vitor for a long time now. I think Vitor is probably the second scariest guy in the UFC right now, right under Jon Jones, but I think he’s beatable. I think I can beat him, and I don’t care either way, I’m going to punch him in the face repeatedly.
“I think Vitor has always been good, and I just got done training with Dan Henderson, and that last time I worked out with Dan Henderson is before the first time he fought Vitor. He whipped Vitor. He dominated him. They went out, and they fought hard, but Dan dominated that fight. Dan is better now than he was back then. I don’t think Vitor is better now, I just think he has a different haircut.”
Fighting Rashad Evans at UFC 167
“I can beat Rashad, but he can beat me too. When I look at him, the first thing I thought about the Rashad fight was, ‘Man, I can beat him, but I don’t know how.’ It’s just one of those matches where we’re just going to have to go out and do it.
“Dan Henderson just fought him. Every time I have a fight I call Dan Henderson and ask him, ‘Can I beat this guy?’ Since I was 20 years old, it didn’t matter if I said I was taking on King Kong, Dan Henderson has said, ‘Yeah, you’re going to kick his ass.’ I asked him if I could beat Rashad, and he said, ‘Possibly,’ and he had just gotten out of the ring with him.”
Coaching “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil”
“When I raised my hand to say I wanted to be a coach on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ that did not mean that I am going to go on and promote myself or promote a fight against that knucklehead Wanderlei, I’m going on to coach. I’m going on to help these young men in whatever capacity I can. I will bring in the best coaches. We will be there on time, every day, and do the best we can to help their experience. This is their show. If it were my show I would have to have the courage to go get in the ring, but I don’t. I have the courage to go stand by the guy and yell instructions at the guy that’s getting in the ring. This is for them.
“Anderson Silva will be welcome. Whether he is on my side or Wanderlei’s side, he needs to be present. He is looked up to in that country. This is for those young men that are scratching and clawing, and trying to break through in an industry that is very hard to do, and to give them their best experience. I think that they look up to Anderson Silva. I know that Anderson Silva has a lot of tools. I trust that he is a good communicator, and he should be present, and he will be asked by my side.”
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos
“Junior dos Santos’ corner man needs to be cut, period. That was beyond inappropriate, that they sent him back out there. The doctor came in twice. I have no idea what that doctor was looking for. The referee didn’t stop the fight, though he should have. Ultimately it defaults to your corner man, who you trust, who is like a father figure, and that guy let Junior dos Santos down, period. The commission licenses these corner men. I don’t have the foggiest idea why; maybe they just want their $25. That should be the first corner man that should be suspended, that was wrong what he did.
“I would like to say this, you do not stop the fight when your fighter can no longer continue, you stop the fight when your fighter can no longer win. The second that your guy can’t win you get him out of there. That fight should have been stopped way earlier. That fight knocked years off Junior dos Santos’ life and career, that corner man should be fired.”
Yushin Okami’s release from the UFC
“I did ask [Dana White about it], and Dana came clean. He said, ‘Look, Yushini s an excellent fighter, but he can’t win the championship. We gave him a shot. We gave him another number one contender match to get him back there. He’s stopping other young talent. He’s been with us seven years, and that’s just the way that it goes.’ The real truth is, and it’s hard when that happens. I don’t want to see Wanderlei Silva lose his career. I don’t like when that happens to anybody, but as fighters we stay in it too long.
“Eventually, I will do the same thing. I love this. I am going to stay in it too long, and somebody who I trust is going to grab me and say, ‘Man, you gotta go do something else.’ I don’t think Yushin has to do something else, I still think he can do the sport, but he’s going to have to do it somewhere else for a little while.”
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