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Is Chael Sonnen relevant?

By Zach Arnold | August 1, 2010

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That’s the question raised and answered here by Jordan Breen on his radio show earlier in the week. He was asked by a caller about Sonnen’s trash talking (which I’m completely numb to) and how there seems to be great fan interest in the upcoming PPV on August 7th.

“This is Chael Sonnen we’re talking about. His trash talking has made people believe that not only does he have a chance but that this is like a serious event and, I mean, to be fair, it’s a good fight. Best fighter in the world is taking on a deserving challenger who’s really cleaned up at Middleweight recently. But, uh… Chael Sonnen’s probably going to get beat up, probably going to get beat up quite badly, but yet he’s convinced people that the odds are not as lopsided as one would believe and his trash talk has really I think kind of raised the bar for the level of outrageous things that people say in Mixed Martial Arts. It’s something else. I’ll say this much… Chael Sonnen, even if he can’t put a dent in Anderson Silva when they fight on August 7th in Oakland, I think that he is definitely changed something in MMA in terms of what’s possible, what’s acceptable, and what people are willing to tolerate as far as trash talk goes and again reaffirming the fact that the right amount of build-up, even if it’s one-sided, people will believe. If one guy does just enough, people will talk themselves into just about anything.

“We want to believe that MMA is an awesome sport, that every fight we’re going to see something real cool and that every fight’s going to be something real major. We saw this with the Dan Hardy/GSP fight. Dan Hardy had no realistic shot against Georges St. Pierre. People talked themselves into believing that Dan Hardy was this big, one-hitter-quitter with one-punch knockout power, all he needed was one strike, and that’s not the kind of guy that he is, that’s not the fighter that he is or was, and it wasn’t going to play out that way. But people bought into it because Dan Hardy provided just enough hype and people wanted to believe. It’s the same thing here. People want to believe whether they’re rooting for or against Chael Sonnen, the amount of attention that he has gotten the fight strictly through the ridiculous things that he’s willing to say is truly amazing and even if it doesn’t have any kind of effect on Anderson Silva or the ultimate outcome of the fight, it has definitely gotten people interested. I know people who are casual Mixed Martial Arts fans that I would have never expected to have… I would have never expected to have them even say the name Chael Sonnen and yet I’ve been asked about him and quizzed on this guy, who is this guy talking to Anderson Silva? Is this guy crazy? People are definitely far more interested and I think Chael Sonnen is definitely established a new degree of carnival barking and hard-selling for a fight and kudos to him for that, because… you know, I would have never imagined that this would be where Chael Sonnen’s career would end up.

“Even if it all goes downhill from here, he had that one shining moment of a year or so where he became one of the most relevant Middleweights in the world and talked his way to the big time and no one can ever take that away from him.”

This led into a larger discussion, one that has been happening on this site and others the last few days about MMA writers, personalities, and columnists not challenging Dana White. Mr. Breen brings up a plausible scenario where Dana White may find himself open to mainstream media attack…

CALLER: “(Luke Thomas’ interview with Dana White on DC radio) It sucked. I mean, it wasn’t Luke’s fault, it was Dana’s because he gives the same canned answers. I also heard the (Bill) Simmons interview with Dana on MMA and he called Rashad Evans ‘Rasheed.’ Like, what do you think about that?”

JORDAN BREEN: “Here’s the one thing I’ll say about interviewing Dana White directly is Dana White is so seldom in a meaningful one-on-one situation that I think it’s, for instance, if I was to say Jordan Breen Show on Thursday, it’s going to be 2 hours of just me and Dana White… could I even in two hours get to everything that I would want to broach with Dana White? The UFC is kind of a robust topic, it’s hard to really to hit every angle and you’re always going to make some people displeased with what you do or don’t cover. And especially where Luke, Luke doesn’t even have the luxury that I would have for instance where he’s on WJFK, he’s on like a real CBS Radio affiliate. He only has so much time and has to do all this stuff. If I was just like, TJ, we’re not having any breaks on Thursday, I’m just talking to Dana White for two hours, he would go YEAH, OBVIOUSLY, because we’re more MMA-focused than radio-focused and that’s sort of a luxury we enjoy. BUT… to the idea of press credentials, it does make your life a whole lot easier. I mean… it sucks to, I’m amazed that we even have proficient play-by-play considering we have to text it from the stands, seriously. Like, that’s insane.


“So, I mean, I feel the point. There are definitely, in general, there’s a climate of people not wanting to question Dana White and when you do get someone in the actual media or who was actually credentialed that does it on the regular, like Steve Cofield, they become persona-non-grata very, very quickly. But nonetheless I think there are certain things that I don’t know that people deserve consternation for, like the Luke Thomas interview would be one of them. I think he did a decent job with what Dana White is going to give him in that kind of format.”

CALLER: “I mean, I just wish you know one day the media will turn against Dana White’s wishes and just challenge him, like, I hope that one day comes because…”

JORDAN BREEN: “Well, you might, honestly I’m saying might, I’m playing devil’s advocate here because I don’t think it’s going to happen, but the idea one thing that a couple of people e-mailed me about this and I saw it on a blog today, I think it might have been on Cage Potato or it may have been somewhere else, someone brought up the fact that of: What if Anderson Silva does dance to a lame victory against Chael Sonnen? This man in April said he was going to cut him if he ever did it again. If he does it again, do people call him on it and say, you going to cut him now? I mean… I don’t think it will actually happen insofar as I think Anderson Silva’s going to beat Chael Sonnen and do the job properly, but if it did happen, would people question him? I think that’s a feasible bridge that I do think people would question Dana White on that front. I’m sure that he would have a very slick way to weasel out of it since obviously he’s not going to cut Anderson Silva for such a disappointment. That said, I do think that’s an instance where maybe you’ll get some hard questions, but in general… it’s a double whammy for MMA. You have half the room who don’t want to incite his wrath and half the room who don’t know enough about MMA to properly question him.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 15 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

15 Responses to “Is Chael Sonnen relevant?”

  1. Cole says:

    is Jordan Breen relevant?

  2. Steve4192 says:

    LOL at anyone grilling Dana about he will actually cut Silva. No rational person believes that would happen, nor should they.

    If you really want to harm the sport, cutting a dominant champion because his wins aren’t aesthetically pleasing is a sure fire way to do it. That would cement the sport as a pro wrestling style “sports entertainment” rather than a serious athletic competition in the minds of critics, and who could blame them?

  3. Dukes says:

    Chael Sonnen has NOT trash talked – at least not in official media appearance (Twitter is something different).

    He was by far the most honest, accurate and articulate athlete on a conference call today. He made key points about Anderson Silva being technically a better fighter than him, better at Jui-jitsu, etc. His comments were based in reality and show a keen understanding of not just the fight itself, but the dynamics of the hype around the match.

    Sonnen hit it right on the head when he said that Anderson Silva was an employee of the UFC, and he was a partner. This is 100% accurate.

    What makes Sonnen unique AND relevant is that he actually, truly believes he can and will win. Franklin was beaten before he even got into the cage. Marquardt was beaten before he stepped into the cage. Demian Mahia would lose to Chris Cyborg.

    Sonnen has not fallen pray to this “best fighter in the world” crap. He believes in himself, has the heart of a lion and stands a solid chance to silence his critics.

    Remember: Filho was supposed to walk through Sonnen and he it was the opposite. Marquardt was supposed to walk through Sonnen and it was the opposite. Silva was supposed to walk through Maia and he gave up in round two and made a complete mockery of the UFC and their new Abu Dhabi investors on the world stage.

    If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet a wooden nickel on Silva.

  4. Mark says:

    I wish Dana would go on Breen’s show for two hours. That would be massive ownage carnage with lots of Breen tears.

    Sonnen absolutely has a chance since Silva did have problems with Dan Henderson dominating him on the ground in their first round (although I’m not sure I’m convinced Sonnen is as good of a wrestler as Hendo.) But either way it is not going to be a good fight. It will be Sonnen playing for Octagon control points if he’s able to take Silva down all 5 rounds or Silva avoiding him all night.

    Is Sonnen relevant? Sure. But he’s nowhere near being a mainstream star yet. Lots of the hardcores are very certain he’ll beat Silva, but to the outside world it would be seen as an even bigger upset than Edgar beating Penn.

    Honestly, he’d better win. Because he has painted himself into such a corner by trashing talking for months and month and months that if he loses (especially if he gets dominated) I do not think his career could recover. So he’s taking quite a gamble in his actions IMO. But if he does win, the fans will see him as the greatest thing ever and maybe he’d become one of their better draws. But that’s a big “if”.

    • Paradoxx says:

      Ah, the classic “hendo had him in trouble” argument. Sadly, these people are hoping that no one actually remembers that fight and just buy that argument because they’ve heard it so often.

      Hendo had Silva is no danger whatsoever. Yes, he took him down. And Silva had a leg wrapped up befre they were eve on the ground. Hendo spent most of his “utter domination of Silva” doing almost no damage. If that what Silva looks like when he’s in trouble. Anyone he fights should quit while they’re ahead.

  5. Fluyid says:

    Jordan Breen, Luke Thomas, Eddie Goldman… I really couldn’t care much less than I currently do regarding what these guys have to say about anything.

  6. Chuck says:

    Here’s the funny thing about Dana White saying he’ll cut Silva if he fights like how he did against Leites and Maia again, and how the fans trash Silva for fighting like that…….what does that say about Silva’s opponents? People are quick to trash Silva for fighting like he does (I don’t like it either, but still) but only few will trash Thales Leites, and no one will trash Demian Maia. But if these guys can’t beat Anderson Silva when Silva is in clowning mode then why does Silva get the rap but his opponents get looked at like they are victims? That’s a hell of a double-standard.

    If Silva can fight like that and WIN, and it’s within the confines of the rules (it is) then Silva should still be middleweight champ, and should still fight on the main cards. Just stop putting him in THE main event slots if there is another title fight on the card.

  7. robthom says:

    It seems to me that everyone thought marquard was relavent for a hot sec there, after a fairly obscure career, until Sonnen made him suddenly irrelivant again.
    After Sonnens own carrer of under achievement.

    Sonnens rap is funny to me, a lot funnier than silvas antics recently.
    But almost completely irrelivent to the actual fight.

    Sonnen MAY be achieving a monster run of his career that had eluded him before just like we thought Marquard was doing.

    Its perfectly possible.

    But in situations like this, with a record like the one he has, there’s no way to actually glean it until the fight actually happens.

    But I’m thinking its a lot more possible recently than I did when I first heard about it.

    Wrestlers are having another streak right now.

  8. Fight the right kind of guys at 185, and you can look like a contender. Look at Chris Leben – people are pretending he’s relevant again after fighting a glorified welterweight and a couple non-factors. Is he really a different man than the one who lost to UFC washout Jake Rosholt 11 months ago? No. Same is true for Sonnen, just at a higher level.

    Great for the UFC though if they’re able to delude people into thinking differently.

  9. […] Breen ponders where all this smack will leave Sonnen after he gets smoked like southern BBQ next weekend: “Even […]


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