Media Watch: Chael Sonnen Back in the Saddle Again
By Jesse Heitz
Anyone who regularly reads my pieces here on Full Contact Fighter is well aware that there are two MMA personalities that I seldom pass up the opportunity to discuss. The first is, and I’m not at all afraid to announce my bias, Wanderlei Silva. The other is his current arch-nemesis Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen, always the colorful character is often a bit perplexing to me. Then a meteor of MMA news strikes, the long-awaited bout between Silva and Sonnen was canceled after Silva apparently no-showed a mandatory hearing and was subsequently unable to get licensed to fight. So imagine my combined sorrow and yet delight when Sonnen was yet again thrust into the limelight.
At July’s UFC 175, Sonnen will take on the number one contender for the UFC’s Middleweight Championship, Vitor Belfort. Belfort himself is emerging from the Testosterone Replacement Therapy controversy. Needless to say, this story is ripe with angles ready for dissection. However, this particular piece will focus on Sonnen again being placed one step away from a title shot.
In a recent interview published by MMAJunkie, Sonnen stated,
“The stakes are up. I am now fighting in a No. 1 contenders match. The winner of my bout will take on the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida.”
So the issue here is a commonly discussed one. How does Chael Sonnen, a fighter who has been pulverized in three of his last four fights, coming off of back-to-back losses no less, get lined up for another title shot?
I get it, he’s typically as game as they come, he’s saved the UFC’s bacon on a few occasions by stepping up to fill an unanticipated vacancy on a pay-per-view card on short notice. However, he’s been brutalized quite severely as of late when paired up against top level talent. So what we’re left with is the realization that Sonnen, and his incredible ability to hype a fight is simply good for the bottom line, even if he’s not a champion level fighter.
To be sure, Sonnen is a polarizing character, you root for him to win, or you cheer ferociously for him to lose, either way he draws fan interest. I understand that the UFC is a business and that Sonnen is one of their top earners, but I suppose I’m a bit finicky insofar as I prefer to see winning fighters, the cream of the crop, get placed a hair away from a title shot. Call me crazy if you must.