Chael Sonnen isn’t a stranger to controversy nor title shots. Heading into this Saturday’s UFC 117 in Oakland, he’ll have a chance to redeem himself with a quality win over perennial pound-for-pound MMA fighter Anderson Silva. Moreover, Sonnen’s brash and arrogant trash talk have brewed increasing interest in this weekend’s card.
The Oregonian squared off against once highly-touted Brazilian Paulo Filho in the WEC for a vacant middleweight title in 2007. After a strong start by Sonnen that soon saw both combatants on the mat against the fence, Filho secured an armbar in the second round to force a technical submission. To this day, the Team Quest fighter denies he tapped out, though replays will show he screamed in pain.
Out of Sonnen’s ten losses, seven of them have been by submission. His most recent loss was against to jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia at UFC 95. His lead up to his title shot on Saturday got off to a rocky start with the Maia submission. Since that setback, Sonnen has won three hard-earned decisions against Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt. The key to those – and most – of his victories lies in his creative and pressuring Greco-Roman wrestling background. Upper-body clinches and takedowns with great ground control have stymied his opponents, allowing him to impose his will.
Perhaps the greatest talking point since April, however, has been Sonnen’s perceived outlandish and vitriolic statements regarding his status in MMA; how he feels about submission fighting and jiu-jitsu; and Anderson Silva. Sunday’s “UFC on Versus” event heavily promoted Saturday’s UFC 117 card by showing a vignette of Sonnen’s skills and remarks.
These are but a few of his quotable quotes:
He [Anderson Silva] has a black belt from the Nogueira brothers, but to me, a black belt from the Nogueira brothers is like a free toy in a Happy Meal
Even if I thought I could get a submission, I’m not laying underneath a grown man with my legs spread, on worldwide T.V. Some guys subscribe to that theory, but I’m a republican and we don’t do that.
I saved Anderson’s Job. Uncle Dana was going to give him his walking papers and I begged him, keep him around, keep him around for one more fight. I will retire this guy.
It’s the type of hype fighters would crave to consistently have in their careers. Chael Sonnen has, by himself, talked up his title match with such an air of anticipation that you can’t help but want to see a definitive and unquestionably solid win by either fighter.
This is the first of a four-part series which will preview Saturday’s card. Your thoughts and opinions before and after the fights are welcomed and encouraged. You can contact me at Jaime.Martinez@gmail.com