Last weekend, in the co-main event of Bellator 222, Chael Sonnen was stopped by former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Shortly thereafter, the fan favorite announced his retirement from MMA.
Speaking on his official YouTube channel days later, Sonnen shared his take on this final loss of his impressive career.
Chael Sonnen actually had some very high praise for his foil — particularly with respect to the way the Brazilian uses distance to set up attacks.
“I really respect the way that he can control distance with any opponent,” he said (via MMA News).
Sonnen continued, discussing the way Machida’s style shook up the game when he first arrived on the scene.
“We had never seen Machida,” he said. “We’ve never seen this skill set we’ve never seen a guy doing these kinds of kicks doing these kinds of straight-on attacks.”
Even with the benefit of plenty of tape to study — something Machida’s earlier opponents didn’t have — Sonnen admitted he had a difficult time coping with the Brazilian legend’s skillset.
While Chael Sonnen never captured a title during his time in Bellator, WEC, or the UFC, he did accomplish some pretty remarkable things in his MMA career, defeating top-flight foes like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Michael Bisping, Nate Marquardt, Brian Stann, Yushin Okami, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and Jason “Mayhem” Miller. He also holds the distinction of being the only man to battle MMA legends Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Fedor Emelianenko.
Although he retired after his loss to Lyoto Machida, he’s likely to stay firmly embedded in the MMA community as a podcaster and as an analyst for ESPN and Bellator.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/20/2019.