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Thread: With Chael Sonnen's latest win, separating fact from fiction gets even harder

  1. Default With Chael Sonnen's latest win, separating fact from fiction gets even harder

    People say a lot of things about Chael Sonnen. Ridiculous things, funny things, sometimes even halfway reasonable things.

    People say these things on TV and on the Internet, before and after his fights, and in the process, they only make it harder to talk about the fighter he actually is rather than the symbol he's become. That's what people do, I guess.

    And by people, I don't just mean media types like me or MMA big shots like UFC President Dana White. I also mean Sonnen himself, who closed out Saturday night's UFC Fight Night 26 event on FOX Sports 1 by dubbing himself both "the man of the hour, too sweet to be sour" as well as "the women's pick and the men's regret."

    If you stuck around for the post-fight festivities on FS1 (note: stop trying to make "The One" happen as a nickname for this new channel; stop it right now), you got to see White get indignant about Sonnen's middleweight ranking, as if Sonnen hadn't clearly abandoned that division after a second failed bid for the UFC 185-pound title this past summer.

    "I've been talking all week about how disrespected Chael Sonnen has been by the media in their rankings," White bellowed from cageside. "They had him ranked No. 8 or 9 at middleweight. They had him ranked under guys who he has beat already. He came out to finish (Mauricio) 'Shogun' (Rua), which does not happen, especially by submission, so hopefully now he'll get the respect he deserves."
    Right, as if that's the big problem. This guy who keeps showing up in UFC main events even after he loses, I tell you, poor fella just can't get no respect.

    Of course, we know why Sonnen's middleweight ranking looks screwy. So does White, even if he'd rather attribute it to that monolithic enemy known as "the media." It's because Sonnen's not a middleweight anymore. He's spent the better part of the past year trying to remake himself as a light heavyweight, which means anyone who wants to put a number next to his name has to choose between pretending he's still a factor in the division he fled or pretending he's a factor in the division where, until Saturday night's submission win over Rua, he was winless in his current UFC stint.

    As long as White's going to complain about fighters not being accurately ranked in divisions where they no longer compete, he might as well flip out over the fact that Urijah Faber is nowhere to be seen on the featherweight list these days, or that Frankie Edgar is totally snubbed at lightweight. Cue the outrage, the bulging forehead vein, the whole deal.

    Sonnen's a top 5 middleweight – when he is a middleweight. He's probably also a top 10 light heavyweight – if he'd only stay at light heavyweight long enough to really prove it.

    We know all this just by looking at his record. We might even be able to have a rational conversation about it if we didn't keep getting drowned out by the static of his pro wrestling persona and the UFC's incessant need to hype him like he's the greatest thing to hit TV since Gabbo. If anything, that's the stuff that created the very perception problem White's so mad about.

    Not that Sonnen helps himself much in that department. Most of the time, his familiar schtick ranges between mild exaggeration and straight-up lying. Once you've seen him walking around with a replica championship belt that he insists is the real thing, you kind of have to give up on the prospect of having a good-faith discussion with the man.

    Sure, he says he's a great fighter who will take on anyone. But what wouldn't this guy say? And if the UFC were willing to plop him down in an unearned and totally unjustifiable title fight against 205-pound champ Jon Jones, what wouldn't it say about him?

    But the backlash that this approach has created isn't always fair either. Sometimes people get so caught up in their perceptions of themselves as daring antiestablishment thinkers that they mistake cynicism for analysis. Sonnen is a good fighter. It's easy to beat up on him for his two consecutive losses in title fights, but that ignores the fact that it's been more than four years since he was defeated by anyone other than Anderson Silva or Jon Jones – two of the greatest fighters of this era. Whether you think the species of success he's enjoyed of late is deserved or not (and with the shadow of his testosterone use always hovering over him, that's a debate worth having), you can't say he sucks.

    That's not a fashionable viewpoint, however, mostly because it veers too close to the UFC's self-serving one. As long as Sonnen keeps telling us how great he is, we're going to keep pulling on the loose threads in that argument rather than focusing on the parts that actually hold together. That's only natural. It's a consequence of Sonnen's decision to trade credibility for notoriety, and the UFC's decision to ride that hype train all the way to the bank.

    What's lost in the murky, muddied waters after all that stomping around is the truth. Sonnen? He can fight a little bit. Whether as a middleweight or a light heavyweight, he's a top-10 fighter in the UFC. He's good, even if he's not the best in either division.

    It's just that that's not exactly a sexy narrative. Not for the UFC, not for Sonnen, and not for his detractors. And between the three of them, they threaten to make too much noise for anyone else to be heard. That's what people do, I guess.
    There are many paths to freedom, not all are peaceful

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Very far


    There is nothing hard here.

    The fact is that he is a good fighter, but not an excellent one. The fact is that he is a proven cheater and a corrupt felon. The fact is that he has talent to be a troll and used that talent to gain tons of attention.

    The fiction is his "gangsta" persona and all the BS he says.

    But indeed he is a Top 5 MW.
    As for LHW, I would like to see him fight again there before putting him in the Top 10. Because Shogun Rua is not joke, but he is done, he is not at all the super Top fighter he used to be.
    Not only brazilians can do this stuff

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Vancouver, BC


    Some places are ranking Chael as high as 7th at LHW.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Down the rabbit hole


    "What you see is what you get, and the rest is better yet."
    A tiger never loses sleep over the opinion of sheep.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010


    Sonnen is easy to explain. If he can take you down then he probably wins, and if he can't then he probably loses. Fortunately for him, he can take most human people down.
    Big Hairy American Winning Machine

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by The Donosaur View Post
    Sonnen is easy to explain. If he can take you down then he probably wins, and if he can't then he probably loses. Fortunately for him, he can take most human people down.
    As opposed to non-human people?
    Quote Originally Posted by SWIFTboy View Post
    I rode a horse. Banged in a hot spring.
    Quote Originally Posted by GL Jeff View Post
    Is he bigger then WarMachine?

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