It doesn’t come as a big surprise that Chael Sonnen isn’t the most popular personality in Brazil. However, it seems that the “American Gangster” has been admiring Brazilian fighters since the beginning of his career.
Sonnen took to Brazilian media organization Globo to discuss two Brazilian fighters that had a big influence on the sport and on Sonnen himself.
“For me it was Royce Gracie. He was the one who started it all, he was the one who made us turn our heads and say: ‘wow, what is going on out here?’.” One guy weighing 170 pounds beating everybody. I didn’t know that could happen. The style, the way that he did it, it was all brand new stuff.”
Royce is the obvious choice for any true mixed martial arts fan as he brought recognition to the art of ground fighting. Something that had never really been seen before. However, this was still in a time when fighters were nowhere near as well rounded as today’s mixed martial artist.
Sonnen continued however to talk about a fighter that can be heavily credited for being one of the earliest true mixed martial artist.
“My next favorite was a guy named Marco Ruas. He was a very complete fighter, particularly for that time. Those were the two guys. Royce was the one that got me started and Marco Ruas was who I wanted to emulate and be like. I used to call myself a ‘vale-tudo’ fighter. I didn’t even know what that meant, those aren’t English words, but that was what Marco Ruas called himself and that was what I wanted to be for at least ten years of my career because of him.”
No wonder the “American Gangster” wanted to be like the “King of the Street” as Ruas was referred too. And though the Brazilian people may still not particularly like Sonnen at least they can rest assure that he has the utmost respect for the great fighters that have come out the country.Chael Sonnen, Marco Ruas, Royce Gracie