“I was getting ready to fight Anderson the first time, and there was a UFC expo shortly before our fight. The way that Mandalay Bay works, there’s the Expo Center and there’s a long hallway. This thing is like a quarter mile, it’s like a lap around the track to get back to the casino and hotel portion of the hotel.
So I’m at the Expo Center, and when I leave, a couple people run up to me and want an autograph and picture, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow! I’m Mr. Cool.’ All the sudden, there’s a mob…I mean a mob of people. I look over and I can’t even see who it is, there were so many people around him. It was like Brad Pitt walked in.
The 2 people that I’m signing autographs for, they leave me. They don’t even say goodbye. They just turn and run towards the mob. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Who is this?’ Then, I finally see that it’s Anderson Silva, but he doesn’t stop. He keeps on walking.
Now I’m mad. My ego has been insulted because my two autograph seekers had run off. I’m walking down the hallway, and finally, Anderson does stop. Now he’s doing pictures and autographs. Because he stopped, I was able to catch up with him.
When I walked past him, I point at him and I say, ‘Sign those autographs, Anderson, sign every one of them, because in two months, you’re never gonna sign another one.’ I’m legitimately angry, and in hindsight, I don’t have the foggiest idea why. Back then, I was an angry fighter and I was pissed off all the time. When I said this to him, I was freakin’ hot, but for no reason at all.
So, I keep walking after that and then Anderson starts yelling my name, and he’s got that voice…’Chael, Chael.’ The mob is following him and I’m in front of him by a good 15 yards. He’s calling my name, and I realize that little voice is getting closer; I can hear him a little louder. I look back and he’s right behind me, with the whole mob of people behind him. Everybody’s got a camera, so I just threw my hand up and kept walking.
He runs after me. He chases me down and catches me, and he throws his arm around me like I were a girl on a date. To put your arm around somebody like that, under those circumstances is very condescending. It’s a major sign of dominance. We’re standing there, and I’ve got two choices. I can either stand there like the lummox and take this condescending, physical gesture, or I can square off and shove him.
It crosses my mind, particularly when I realize how many cameras there are on us, that this is just gonna go down right now. Instead, while I’m thinking about doing this, I just stand there like a fool, and let him keep his arm around me. He’s telling me [affected voice], ‘Relax, we are professionals,’ and he gives me whatever quick speech he gives, and we go our separate ways.
All the while, I’ve got a buddy coming to town, so just store that away for a minute. He’s not in Vegas yet; he doesn’t get in for another couple of hours. As I’m walking off from this little run-in, I smell something, so I’m sniffing around, and I’m smelling my shirt where he was leaned up against me, and I’m thinking, ‘That smells good,’ but I can’t place it. I don’t know what it was, some Brazilian cologne…who knows, it just smelled freakin’ good.
An hour or so goes by, and my buddy arrives. He doesn’t know the story yet, so I tell him, ‘Hey, smell this,’ and I make him smell my shirt. He goes, ‘God, that smells good. What is that?’ And I go, ‘That’s Anderson Silva.’
That’s where the story ends, but that night, I ended up in the bar with a guy named Keiran Portley. At this point, he’s just some random guy. I don’t know him, but we’re talking, and somehow, this story comes up, and I tell him exactly what I just told you. He’s like, ‘I work at ESPN. Do you want to come out next week?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah,’ and that’s how I ended up with the job. He thought I was a good storyteller and he hired me on the spot.”
Retired UFC middleweight, Chael Sonnen took to his own podcast, “You’re Welcome With Chael Sonnen”, to discuss his newly landed gig as MMA analyst for ESPN.