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Chael Sonnen reveals how he almost became a professional wrestler and what Paulo Filho said to him during their second fight in WEC

By Zach Arnold | May 9, 2010

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I had put this on the backburner due to everything that went down at UFC 113 in Montreal, but there was a really great interview that Chael Sonnen did with Bryan Alvarez & Dave Meltzer last Wednesday that I think everyone should go out of there to listen to.

Down below, I’ve quoted parts of the interview that I thought were intriguing or newsworthy, but I didn’t quote everything he said during the interview. You can listen to that interview by clicking here.

There was talk about a press release from Anderson Silva in which he stated seven reasons as to why he should/shouldn’t have to face you. Has he acknowledged you as an opponent?

“Yeah, that’s true, I’ve put my finger in this guy’s chest for four years challenging him, he’s fought everybody in the world that isn’t named Chael Sonnen and you know the only and one time he even acknowledges the challenge is to state seven reasons why he [didn’t want] to do it. All the while he doesn’t mind fighting one-legged Canadians from Canada and other guys who can’t even hold their spot within the company. But the only time he ever acknowledged my presence was to say why he didn’t have to fight me.”

What did you take away from his UFC 112 Abu Dhabi fight against Demian Maia?

“Well, I learned that he’s really good. He went out there and did some mannerisms and behaviors that were new and odd to me and he was never once in trouble against one of the top guys out there.”

Mentally, do you think something is going on with Anderson when he fights? Any funny business?

“No, sure not. You know again I don’t know. If he likes to fight in a weird style, you know go ahead, that’s up to the guys who put him on TV if they decide if they want to continue to do that. If it’s not pleasing to watch, they won’t do that. But it is effective, you can’t deny that it works. He’s acted a fool in other matches, he acted a fool in the Forrest Griffin match and scored a really quick knockout and looked like a big hero when it was done. So, this time he didn’t land those shots, it didn’t end well, so the antics carried on for 25 minutes and so a lot of people are disappointed with him but you know as a guy that’s getting ready to compete with him you know I’m just looking at the stuff that he did right and how to try to defend myself for that.”

Are there any weaknesses that he has that you can take advantage of or anything you can expose if you take him down?

“Well, you know a fight is like the most unsophisticated thing on the face of the planet. People try to break down all the different ways like what you’re going to do and you got these guys sitting around with their 8th grade education and their gold teeth trying to act as though if they’re some sort of fight expert. Who cares. Walk out there, put your hands up, and get in a fight. And if you hit him more times than he hits you, they’ll raise your hand at the end of 25 minutes.”

Anderson Silva has tremendous speed and elusiveness. Is there any other fighter that you can compare him to?

“I think he’s a different cat. You know I think it’s one of the problems, let’s use Machida as an example. I think it’s one of the problems that the guys have with Machida, you never get a feel that style because he’s so unique until you get into the ring with him. You know so you’re out there, you did your best to prepare, but it’s kind of a crap shoot, it’s a whole new world and I feel like Anderson’s the same way. You know his strikes are pretty good, I don’t know if he’s a great striker, they’re pretty good but he’s a great set-up guy, he’s a great fake-you-out guy, so his strikes land so effectively because his fakes and juking and jiving before hand gets your guard down. So, that’s new, I mean I don’t have anybody in the gym like that, I don’t know if I’ve ever even come across anybody as athletic as him that can quite move and flow and have the rhythm as him anywhere in my life. So, yeah, it’ll be new, there’s not like somebody that I can call on to bring in. He’s kind of a one-of-a-kind.”

Do you know if Anderson has signed the fight contract to face you in August?

“I’ve haven’t heard that he has sent his in yet. He has to though, it’s not as though he has options, it’s not as though he’s a hot commodity that people want. He’s got one avenue, it’s the UFC and even they’re growing a little cold on him, so he’s definitely be there on August 7th.”

Did you consider becoming a professional wrestler?

“Yeah, when I was in college, I didn’t graduate college until 2001, I became an All-American in 1998 and right after that I went out to the WCW, what they had at that time was called a Power Plant and there was a try out, it was an extremely difficult tryout, it was three days and boy it was hard, only two of us made it, me and a gentleman from Jamaica. And we got invited to comeback and I said, “Well, look, I’m going to go finish college,” and they said, “Well, you only have to do tryout, once you get invited the invite’s good for life essentially.’ So, I was going to return after I graduated in 2001, well by then they had shut down, the WCW had folded up and no longer was in existence.”

After that failed, did you consider WWE or was MMA the thing you focused on?

“Well, you know, I always wanted to do MMA. I was going to do MMA, you know even if I was going to a wrestling route, I was going to do MMA.”

“I was 20 years old and wrestling seemed like a fun thing to do but I didn’t get any more serious about wrestling than just going to a 3-day tryout. That’s where my career started and stopped.”

Is your conversational style during interviews influenced at all by watching pro-wrestling?

“Yeah, I did watch pro-wrestling growing up, I’ve heard that about myself but I don’t think that I have a pro-wrestling style. You know, pro wrestling, you don’t have to touch on realms of reality. You can just say whatever you want. I’ve never done an interview where I didn’t just answer questions in an honest fashion, I’ve never created anything. So, every now and then I hear that about myself, ‘Ah, you sound like a pro-wrestler,’ and I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult, I never know how to take it.”

What was it like to be in that strange fight against Paulo Filho?

“Yeah, you know it was a different deal, for sure. I mean I got it. As soon as he started doing it, I understood what was going on. I understood, ‘oh, okay, he’s checking out and this is his way of doing it.’ He had asked me at one point in the fight to go to the ground with him and I said ‘No, I can’t do that’ and he said, “no, no submission attempts, just rest, come to the ground, let’s rest’ and I just said again, ‘I can’t’ and just went back to fighting.”

“The company, Zuffa, was very unpleased with it. And I got it, I’m like, yeah that was a weird match but man I did my part, I don’t know what to do, it takes two to tango, there’s only one of us out there.”

When you were told that your weight class in WEC was being folded up and you were heading to UFC, what did you think of it?

“MMA isn’t popular. A lot of people like to say it is, it’s not. If you go to an MMA show, it’s a ghost town in there unless it’s a UFC. That is now extending to the WEC (with Zuffa giving the organization a push). At that time, that was right in the growing phase. The UFC was selling out arenas and the WEC was still struggling to get their name out there, so ego-wise it was neat to be part of the UFC, I was glad to get picked up that’s for sure, they didn’t have to take me over so I was happy that they did.”

Topics: Media, MMA, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, WEC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

8 Responses to “Chael Sonnen reveals how he almost became a professional wrestler and what Paulo Filho said to him during their second fight in WEC”

  1. Mark says:


  2. Hahahaha. Man, for a long time now Meltzer has been pointing at Sonnen’s time in the Power Plant as how he’s developed his interviews in the pro wrestling style. Instead, he was there for a 3 day tryout.

    Everything is pro wrestling.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Well to be fair I’m sure the three days he spent in the Power Plant weren’t the only three days of his life where he was influenced by or paying attention to pro wrestling.

      • He might have heard a pro wrestler talk once, and that clearly influenced his ability to answer interview questions, even though he himself downplays any serious influence it played on him as well as his extremely limited participation.

        Everything is pro wrestling.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I know you’re just happy to stir the pro wrestling/anti-pro wrestling pot, but I could honestly care less.

          I’ve never cared much for pro wrestling, but I’m not blind to recognizing that people are influenced by it, whether its fans, fighters or DW himself.

        • The comedy for me are when guys come out and are like “Yeah, its not a big influence on me” and everyone plays wrestling smart deciphering the real message of the interview. That message, of course, is “Power Plant was the oracle for me and the basis for my personality as a fighter”. Instead, possibly, it is a real dude authentically confused why he’s constantly told he sounds like a wrestler.

  3. 45 Huddle says:

    A lot of people Koscheck and Sonnen’s age grew up on Pro Wrestling to a certain degree. So the influence is there, no doubts about it.

  4. Mark says:

    I agree that the pro wrestling fanboys who are now into MMA can get really, really annoying by trying to make everything coincide with some pro wrestling term or moment, we’ll call those the Bryan Alvarez-minded people of the world. But also annoying are the people who absolutely refuse to believe anybody who competes in real fighting could have respect or draw from fake pro wrestling. Because it’s fake! And real fighters can’t respect fake fighters!

    Maybe the next generation of fighters will be completely removed from professional wrestling influence on any level since they would have come of age in the UFC domination era, but if you were a child or teenager in the mid-to-late 1990s who is now in MMA, your influence to get into combat sports more than likely didn’t happen because they saw UFC 21 or PRIDE 8 in 1999. Comparing the numbers those shows did versus people in the age group for fight or attempt to fight now would mean a giant chunk of viewers attempted an MMA career which is just unreasonable.

    It doesn’t mean they love professional wrestling now, it just means watching it lead them to get into amateur wrestling, boxing or martial arts as they got older. Like how reading comic books as a kid leads you into hopefully reading better literature.

    And the alternative theory would be that they were all inspired by watching stuff like bad Jean Claude Van Damme movies. So which bad, cartoony, homoerotic form of entertainment do you want to go with?


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