Former UFC star Chael Sonnen believes it’s a good thing that middleweight Phil Hawes chose to de-escalate his Octagon exchange with Daniel Cormier this past weekend.
Saturday’s UFC Austin card brought fans a lot of things, from a host of knockouts and exciting finishes to impressive debuts and an entertaining main event. But beyond the action, one moment caught the attention of viewers.
On the preliminary card, Cormier, who was on color commentary duty inside the Moody Center, witnessed his protégé Deron Winn suffer a dominant and devastating TKO loss to Hawes.
While Hawes’ performance was initially the main talking point, his decision to set his sights on Cormier as he entered the Octagon for the post-fight interview and accuse the former champ-champ of ‘picking the wrong pony’ quickly stole the headlines.
Ultimately, after a confrontation that saw Cormier instruct “Megatron” to show some respect, the victorious middleweight apologized in the cage before repeating his regret during his appearance at post-fight press conference.
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Chael Sonnen became the latest to give his take on the matter. And despite the fact he initiated the exchange, the 45-year-old believes that Hawes actually left it looking good.
“One of the high moments over the card that we got to see Saturday was drama between Phil Hawes and Daniel Cormier… Phil Hawes, not only was right, he was perfect,” said Sonnen. “Phil was right for being wrong. He had to be wrong first. But you wanna know who looked good in that story? It was Phil, and I really hope you guys see it that way.”
Sonnen went on to suggest that Hawes is owed some leeway given the fact he was riding high on adrenaline at the time following an impressive victory. But while the 185lber quickly settled down and took Cormier’s advice, Sonnen questioned what would have happened if he’d done the opposite and turned the altercation physical.
“Daniel knew how to come to a young athlete. What would have happened if Phil hadn’t been so gracious?” Sonnen asked. “Don’t forget guys, Phil was high, Phil was out of his mind, he was drunk, Phil was under the influence, he was intoxicated. This is a natural high, an endorsement and an adrenaline release.
“So, when I tell you that Hawes, first off, deserves a bit of understanding, he was out of his mind. He was out of his mind with excitement that he earned, so go a little easy on Hawes. But when he came at Daniel, what if — ’cause Daniel didn’t back away did he? His face went real straight,” Sonnen continued. “Daniel did not like that. Daniel did not like being spoke that way… What if Phil would have swung on him?”
Sonnen: Hawes’ Apology Took “Character”
Fortunately, the retired former two-division titleholder wasn’t required to make a sudden return to Octagon action, and the pair completed the post-fight interview cordially.
According to Sonnen, Hawes’ decision to do that, and reiterate his apology again following the incident, took “character,” and was something he appreciated from the 33-year-old New Jersey native.
“Phil spoke that language and Phil stopped, and Phil was right,” said Sonnen. “He said it again (at the press conference). He was like, ‘I apologize. That is the two-time champion of the world, I was wrong.’ Perfect. That took character, it did…. He came back to (his senses) quickly, he stood on it… He apologized. Phil was right. I appreciated it.”
What did you make of Phil Hawes’ post-fight conduct at UFC Austin?