In his last fight, Chael Sonnen lost via TKO in round two against UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva. Shortly after that loss, he announced his move up in weight to the light heavyweight division. As of right now, Sonnen is coaching opposite Jon Jones on UFC’s reality TV staple. The Ultimate Fighter. Once the show is done, Sonnen will get a shot at Jones’ light heavyweight championship.
So how does a one lose at middleweight, move up a weight class and immediately get a TUF coaching spot and a title match? How does Chael Sonnen bypass the light heavyweight division’s top contenders like Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida and Shogun Rua?
There are a few angles to take on this, such as injuries and timing. However, the bottom line answer to those questions is… Sonnen’s mouth. Chael Sonnen is known for his legendary trash talking. With a uncanny ability to push the right buttons and get himself in the spotlight.
When you breakdown his win/loss record beside the records of the elite 205lb UFC fighters, clearly, Sonnen shouldn’t be considered the number one contender. Yet, since Jon Jones has all but cleared out his division with wins over Shogun Rua, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans and others. Dan Henderson would have been the final nail in the 205lb coffin. But an injury to him and the fight being turned down by others, Sonnen was able to talk himself right into a title shot and a TV show.
Is this good for the future of the UFC and MMA? At this point, the UFC has to stay entertaining. All too often, fair weather fans will be turned off by “boring” matches. Ratings for The Ultimate Fighter are at an all time low and the Sonnen vs Jones TUF season could be the spark it needs. Already we are seeing lesser know fighters talking trash against their opponent. Trying to manufacture a rivalry and put their name and match under the spotlight. Although this could hurt MMA’s fight to be widely accepted as a legitimate sport, you only have to look at the NFL and how popular their division rivalry games are. True, heated rivalries are great for the sport. Just look at Ken Shammrock and Tito Ortiz or Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. Those fighters truly disliked one another and it made for great drama.
Personally, I have no patience for manufactured trash talk. A big problem with lesser known fighters doing it, is that they are terrible at it, making their trash talk seem like amateur hour. At least Chael Sonnen is entertaining to the point you want to see him get just desserts inside the cage. He’s like a throwback to heel pro wrestlers. Though, let’s face it, the last thing UFC wants to be compared to, is “fake” professional wrestling.