This Saturday, former UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen will step into the cage to fight former UFC champion Tito Ortiz in a highly anticipated Bellator MMA showdown. Ahead of the fight, Ortiz and Sonnen’s beef has been very publicized. In addition to their ongoing war of words leading up to their fight, Ortiz and Sonnen once met on the wrestling mat over a decade ago, where Sonnen defeated Ortiz.
While Ortiz was reigning as the UFC champion, Chael Sonnen was just beginning to make the transition from being an All American wrestler to an MMA fighter. The way ‘The American Gangster’ sees it, had he been in the UFC at the same time Ortiz was UFC champion, the ‘Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ never would have been a dominant UFC champion.
Sonnen spoke to MMAFighting:
“I knew exactly where I stood in the world,” Sonnen said. “I was in the practice room every single day with world champions — Pride world champions, UFC champions. You name it, I had it every single day. I knew everybody in the world that could whip my ass and there was one guy and his name was Randy Couture. And that’s the truth. And the guys that were around back then will tell you the same thing.”
“Tito has been fighting a really long tie and fighting at a high level,” Sonnen said. “A lot of the guys he fought back then suck. That’s true. But at that time, they were the top guys. He was truly the best in the world doing it at that time. He didn’t duck anybody. He didn’t dodge anybody. I can remember him stepping up in really hard fights.”
“I don’t know what I could have done with him at that time,” Sonnen said. “Tito did a very good job and really helped the industry and the organization. My contention from the beginning of this is that I beat him when we were kids and I would have stopped him from being the UFC champion. I would have stopped him from being in the Hall of Fame. Those things don’t bring me pleasure. I’m glad Tito had good success.”
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/20/2017.