Posts Tagged ‘Chael Sonnen’

Will Silva’s bite live up to his bark?

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Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva earned a fifth-round submission of Chael Sonnen during their first meeting back in August 2010. (Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

Chael Sonnen had to have been smiling on his end of the phone line.

Isn’t the whole point of trash talking to get your opponent off his game? Yet for the nearly two years since he came closer than anyone in the UFC to beating Anderson Silva, as he threw every insult from “absolute fraud” to “dirtbag” at the middleweight champion, he saw not the slightest crack in the armor. Even after a rematch was announced and Chael ramped up his antagonism, “The Spider” remained hazily soft-spoken, his affect teetering between blasé and bored. That had to be killing Sonnen.

Until Monday afternoon, that is, when a whole different Silva showed up on a conference call with members of the media who’ll be covering UFC 148 a week from Saturday in Las Vegas.

“First of all, Chael is a criminal,” Silva said in response to the first mention of his opponent, speaking in Portuguese that then was translated by his manager, Ed Soares. “He’s been convicted of crimes. He doesn’t deserve to be inside of the octagon. When the time comes and the time is right, I’m going to break his face and break every one of the teeth in his mouth.”

Well, well.

And there was more. Each time Sonnen’s name was mentioned, Silva became more graphic in his pitiless forecast. He promised “to beat his ass like he’s never been beaten before” …
beat him “the way his parents should have beat him to teach him some manners” … “beat him out of the UFC.” It was as if Silva was aping Sonnen’s mean-spirited standup routine, the longest-running comedy act in MMA. So Anderson, how bad is the beating going to be? “He’s going to have to go see a plastic surgeon after the fight.” Ba-da-boom.

As Silva went on, the words sounding so uncharacteristic, I found myself wondering whether he was really just talking about how the weather is lovely these days in Rio, and Soares was translating it as a Sonnen-is-a-dead-man threat in order to boost pay-per-view sales. But several Brazilian journalists took to Twitter to assure us monolinguals that the manager actually had softened what Silva was saying.

Reaction to Silva’s pitbull act puzzled me. The pervasive theme on Twitter and even in some media accounts was this: Boy, are you in for it now, Chael. I don’t get it. Anderson Silva became the deadly fighter he is by being patient, elusive and impassive until it’s time to strike. That is, by being himself. Maybe he’s capable of morphing into a José Aldo-style aggressor and being even more of a killer. If so, Sonnen is in trouble. But it’s reasonable to think that Anderson fighting angry is not Anderson at his best.

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  • Published On Jun 25, 2012
  • Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen rescheduled for UFC 148 in Las Vegas

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    Anderson Silva (left) and Chael Sonnen (right) will finally wage their anticipated rematch at UFC 148 in Las Vegas on July 7. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

    Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen are still scheduled to meet this summer, and that’s good news for fight fans.

    But some bad news surrounding the rematch came Tuesday morning when the Brazilian UFC middleweight champion, his self-proclaimed beltholder of an opponent and Dana White, the fight organization’s president, showed up in Rio de Janeiro to announce that the bout no longer would be held in a stadium there on June 23, as scheduled, but was being moved to July 7 in Las Vegas.

    The fight hasn’t exactly lost its luster — Vegas has more of that than anywhere else on the planet — but it’s lost a good bit of the grit and righteousness that have made this rematch’s backstory so intriguing.

    You see, the fight is not simply between Silva and Sonnen. Chael, with his WWE-style bluster, has turned it into him vs. Brazil with his trash-talk ridicule of the country’s top fighters and even the nation itself. The mockery of the Nogueira brothers, Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva and the like is fair game; they’re all big boys who can take care of themselves. But Sonnen’s rhetoric about Brazil has veered into ugly-American xenophobia.

    “When I was a little kid, I remember going outside and sitting with my friends,” Sonnen said during the press conference. “We’d talk about the latest technology and medicine and gaming and American ingenuity.” Then he brought his story to the present day to draw a contrast, saying, “And I’d look outside and Anderson and the Brazilian kids are sitting outside playing the mud.”

    That’s Chael at his mildest. In past diatribes, he’s characterized Brazil as backward in far more insulting ways. And he’s done so with little or no backlash, as the MMA media — and I must lump myself in the horde, unfortunately — mostly just yuks it up with the guy.

    So Brazil deserved its shot at Sonnen. Sure, he appeared Tuesday in a Rio conference room, and I half-expected to see a shoe thrown at his head, a la George W. Bush before the Baghdad media. But a press conference isn’t enough. After talking the talk, he should have been made to walk the walk — that is, stroll out to the octagon in a soccer stadium filled with Brazilians excited to see him get beat up by the champ.

    It’s just not going to work out in Brazil, however. My first thought upon hearing of the fight’s relocation was that the UFC feared for Sonnen’s safety. That might actually be the reason, but the public explanation is that the Rio stadium event fell apart because of the United Nations’ Rio+20 Conference taking place the same week, eating up hotel rooms and making a UFC event a logistical impossibilty. So there go the plans of sustainability for conference attendees who were hoping to catch the fights, too.

    There still will be a UFC 147 fight card in Brazil — there’s no date set, but it’ll be in an arena, not in a stadium, and still feature a showdown of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil coaches Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, plus the reality show’s middleweight and featherweight finals and a Fabricio Werdum-Mike Russow heavyweight bout. White said Tuesday he might also put featherweight champion José Aldo on the card. So it’s not all bad news for Brazilian fans.

    And by moving Silva-Sonnen II to Las Vegas, White has transformed UFC 148 into a Fourth of July fireworks spectacle. In addition to the fight for the middleweight championship, there also will be a bantamweight tile bout between The Ultimate Fighter: Live coaches Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber plus a Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin rubber match (perhaps Tito’s final fight), Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le and Michael Bisping vs. Tim Boetsch.

    All’s well that ends well, then? That’s what White would have you believe. “This is going to be a global event. If we were going to do it here in Brazil, it needed to be done in a huge soccer stadium,” he said. “As we got into the logistics of trying to make this thing happen here, we just couldn’t pull it off. If we couldn’t do it here, then Las Vegas was the only other option.”

    Silva took some convincing to make the move, according to While, although the champion was nothing but agreeable at the press conference. “I’m a UFC athlete, and I have fans all over the world,” he said. “Regardless of where this fight takes place, I will represent Brazil, and I will do my job and defend my belt.”

    That was the professional thing for him to say. But the fans in his home country deserved better.

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Apr 24, 2012
  • Chael Sonnen lets it fly in Q&A with fans

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    Chael Sonnen

    Chael Sonnen hugs a fan after inviting her on the Fox Theater stage on Friday. (Matt Dollinger/SI)

    ATLANTA — Chael Sonnen has never been one to shy away from contact or controversy.

    Regarded as one of the top middleweight fighters in the UFC, Sonnen is better known as the pound-for-pound trash-talking champion in a sport riddled with challengers. Not only is Sonnen one of the UFC’s biggest personalities, but he’s also one of its most quotable – challenging topics much like he does opponents.

    Promoting his new book, “The Voice of Reason: A VIP Pass to Enlightenment,” Sonnen graced the Fox Theater stage in Atlanta on Friday for a question-and-answer sessions with fans prior to the official UFC 145 weigh-ins.

    Sonnen’s next scheduled fight is a rematch against Anderson Silva at UFC 147 in Brazil, but reports are circulating that Sonnen-Silva II will be moved to UFC 148 in Las Vegas due to a logistical conflict with a United Nations conference in Rio slated for the same time of the original event.

    That might be a blessing for Sonnen, who saved his harshest words for Brazil and its many fighters, including Silva, on Friday. Rather than rehash everything that came out of Sonnen’s mouth (some of which this blog probably shouldn’t repeat), here are the top 10 PG-13 quotes from Sonnen’s memorable appearance in Atlanta:

    10) “The tooth brush was actually created in Brazil. If it’d been created anywhere inAmericaor somewhere else it’d be called the teeth brush.”

    9) “I’m not a martial artist, I’m an award-winning author. I don’t even know what the word ‘martial’ means. I’m not 100 percent I could spell it and I don’t think I could define it.”

    8) “I’ll never be a closet champion. Come one, come all.”

    7) “I haven’t even agreed to (fight Silva). My demand has not been met. Anderson has his list, I have but one request. There will be 80,000 people in attendance and my demand is simple: silence. When I come through the curtain, they will sit down and shut their mouths and show respect to their American guest. Or I will go back in my car, back to the airport, back toAmericaand (they) won’t even see me fight.”

    6) “I don’t think you can give yourself a ring name. When I was young they used to call me ‘foreman,’ not because I was in charge, but because I did the work of four men.”

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  • Published On Apr 20, 2012
  • Reviewing UFC on Fox 2′s undercard

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    Charles Oliveira (right) and Tim Tebow have more in common besides being winners. (Mike Dinovo/US Presswire)

    CHICAGO — The Tim Tebow of the UFC doesn’t speak English.

    His name is Charles Oliveira (15-2, 1 NC) and the back of his walkout shirt reads, “My power come from God,” who Oliveira credited with helping him scramble into a successful submission after Eric Wisely (19-6) escaped both the ankle lock and knee bar.

    “God gave me the power. God showed me the way,” said Oliveira through his translator. “He helps me and gives me support and it’s my job to get that message out.”

    After a lightning fast 14-0 start to his MMA career, former top prospect Oliveira dropped two of his next three fights, but he made his featherweight debut in style on the UFC on FOX 2 undercard. Oliveira successfully switched from an ankle lock to a knee bar to a calf slicer and submitted Wisely in the first round. He said he was ready for the fight to go to any position.

    “I’m a professional fighter, “Oliveira said. “My gameplan is to fight standing up and to fight on the ground.”

    Oliveira, who had previously fought at lightweight in the UFC, said he normally walks around at about 157 pounds so he expects to remain at 145 for the foreseeable future. He even weighed in at 144 pounds just to show that he could make the weight cut.

    “This is my division now. The cut wasn’t easy, but I feel strong and I feel fast,” said Oliveira, who wants to be viewed as a true professional who makes weight every time he fights.

    The win snaps a three-fight winless streak for Oliveira, but he said he didn’t feel pressure from his coaches or Dana White to win this fight. Oliveira put all the pressure on himself and refused to crumble under it. He wasn’t the only former top prospect to put on a solid performance on the undercard.

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  • Published On Jan 28, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC on Fox 2

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    Rashad Evans (above) is favored to defeat the fast-rising Phil Davis in the main event of Saturday's UFC on Fox 2 in Chicago. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC) analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC on Fox 2 on Saturday in Chicago.

    Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis

    FOWLKES: If it were a straight-up wrestling match, I’d take Davis. But Evans knows the tricks of this trade a little better, and he’s more comfortable in the big fights. In a match-up this close, that experience could make all the difference. Evans by decision.

    HUNT: The athletic Davis has the right body type (lanky reach, thick lower half for explosive shots) to negate champion Jon Jones’ assets in another year or two. But it’s that year or two of missing gym time that will give Evans the edge Saturday. Evans by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: If Davis can take this fight to the mat, his wrestling pedigree (2008 NCAA champ, 2006 runner-up, four-time All-American) will trump the usually superior grappling of Evans. But I have my doubts that, with barely three years in the MMA game, he’s developed the cage savvy to come to grips with Rashad, whose footwork and fast hands should send “Mr. Wonderful” to the canvas not on his own terms. Evans by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: This is a big step up for Davis and the conventional wisdom is that he a placeholder so Evans and Jon Jones can finally settle their score. But Evans hasn’t impressed lately; and if Davis can take this to the ground, he has a real shot. I’ll go upset here. Davis by decision.

    Michael Bisping vs. Chael Sonnen

    FOWLKES: Bisping is a better fighter than he gets credit for, but Sonnen is strong in the exact places where the Brit is weak. Get ready for a carnival of takedowns, America. Sonnen by decision.

    HUNT: Though Bisping looked polished and well prepared in his last fight against a gassing “Mayhem” Miller, wrestlers are a bad matchup for the U.K. striker. The story of this fight will be takedowns, takedowns, takedowns. Sonnen by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Did you see the whupping Sonnen put on Brian Stann? And that guy’s a Marine with thunder in his fists, someone you might be wary of closing the distance against. Chael isn’t going to hesitate for a millisecond before moving in for the kill against the pitter-patter punching of Bisping. The Brit says he can win this fight from his back, but if he has the ground game to expose Chael’s jiu-jitsu vulnerability, we’ve yet to see it. Sonnen by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: Bisping will do his best to get in Sonnen’s head (PED! PED!) but if he’s Sonnen equal in the talking department, there’s nothing else he does better. Like most Brits, Bisping’s not adept at defending the takedown. Sonnen’s superior wrestling will win out. Sonnen by decision.

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  • Published On Jan 27, 2012
  • Stock Watch: UFC 136

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    Frankie Edgar (right) scored a fourth-round knockout of longtime rival Gray Maynard to defend his UFC lightweight title on Saturday in Houston. (AP)

    Finally, some clarity.

    The belt still resides around lightweight champ Frankie Edgar’s waist following his trilogy with Gray Maynard in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 136, and finally, business can resume in the store of available contenders. The queue got shorter early in the evening when Melvin Guillard tapped to Joe Lauzon in 47 seconds flat to halt his title bid. That puts the focus squarely on the result of two upcoming bouts: Ben Henderson vs. Clay Guida, which is set as the co-main for UFC on FOX 1, and Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal, which headlines a yet-unannounced Strikeforce card set for Dec. 17.

    The more compelling of the winners is likely to get the first crack at Edgar, who will take some much-needed recovery time as the title picture comes into focus. A small caveat: The lesser-known Masvidal won’t get the shot if he manages to upset Melendez, who’s been waging a long P.R. campaign for a crossover and has the ear of UFC president Dana White.

    That should occupy Edgar for the next year, but if he’s not vacating the belt for featherweight — and I’m guessing he’s not any time soon — there’s a long list of tough guys within reach. Should be an interesting 2012.

    And now, here’s a stockwatch. Buys on the list should be as surprising as a cageside sighting of Steven Seagal.


    Frankie Edgar (14-1-1): With a champion’s mix of guts and skill, Edgar is the toughest guy on the Jersey shore and, maybe, inside the octagon. I wouldn’t put him at No. 2 in the pound-for-pound rankings, but No. 3 looks about right. He’s now beaten Maynard, B.J. Penn (twice), former champ Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin, Jim Miller, and done so at a physical disadvantage that veers toward criminal in boxing. The 170-if-he’s-been-to-Buca-di-Beppo Edgar proceeds like it’s nothing. Maynard had him dead to rights on a takedown when he overextended a punch in the fourth. It was perfectly timed, and he sprawled and stuffed a guy who cuts from a minimum of 175 pounds.

    About that weight: It’s not surprising that concern for Edgar’s long-term well being has underscored the second defense of his belt. When I think of the damage he took in the first round from the bigger Maynard, I remember lightweight Antonio McKee, the king of wrestling “blankets,” telling me how much time he lost when he tried, for once, to be a gunslinger and how much time he lost when his opponent cracked him. I remember welterweight Rory Markham telling me he heard cartoons when he took a stiff punch. I remember another very popular welterweight that shall go unnamed tell me he lost his sense of smell for a month after getting kicked in the head.

    The point is, the brain is a fragile device, as we’re well aware in this era of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Shots like those set the timer running and punch the punchcard. How long one fighter remains unaffected is left to the mysteries of the brain. What we do know, however, is that at some point, there’s nothing left. The 29-year-old Edgar’s card has two punches, probably more. That will in all likelihood make him increasingly susceptible to brief lapses of consciousness upon contact with his jaw. Will 10 fewer pounds protect him? Maybe. It may also have absolutely no bearing. Edgar is doing more than fine at lightweight. Change is more likely to come from a blow to the ego (a loss) or financial incentive (Uncle Dana).

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  • Published On Oct 10, 2011
  • Sonnen, Stann fight for right to dethrone Silva

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    Chael Sonnen (top) pushed Anderson Silva to the limit when they fought at UFC 117 in August 2010, but Silva rallied brilliantly in the final reel. (AP)

    Two things you need to know about Chael Sonnen: He can take down Anderson Silva at will, and he’s found life outside of the octagon to be a lot more difficult.

    Saturday’s fight marks Sonnen’s return to action for the first time since he was submitted by Silva in the fifth round of a UFC 117 title fight that, had it gone the distance, he no doubt would have won by decision.

    If anyone can beat Silva, widely regarded as MMA’s pound-for-pound kingpin, it’s Sonnen.

    Since he lost in his first attempt to dethrone Silva, Sonnen has been fined for elevated testosterone levels and convicted of felony real estate fraud.

    “I’m happy [to be back],” Sonnen said. “I got put in timeout for a while and I’m glad that’s all over.”

    His welcome-back present is a fight with Brian Stann. If the UFC ever wanted to promote a fight as good guy vs. bad guy, this is the one. Sonnen’s criminal record and steroid allegations make fellow UFC villains Rashad Evans and Josh Koscheck look like choir boys.

    Stann, on the other hand, is a former Marine who earned a Silver Star in Iraq, the president of the charity Hire Heroes — which helps get war veterans civilian jobs — and the man in the way of a Sonnen-Silva rematch.

    “It’s definitely a fight I’d love to see,” said Stann. “But I’m not willing to lose a fight to see it.”

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  • Published On Oct 07, 2011