Chael Sonnen came moments away from handing UFC middleweight champion and pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva his first UFC loss this August 7th at UFC 117. The Oregonian thoroughly dominated Silva for the majority of five rounds but grew complacent with his unprecedented lead over “The Spider” and left the window open for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to sink in a fight-ending triangle choke submission.
The stoppage has been considered by some to be controversial, though Sonnen himself has not openly challenged the ref’s call, as it was slightly difficult to see whether or not Sonnen tapped. There was confusion in the ring as well as it appeared on screen as though Sonnen did protest the stoppage at first, but Sonnen recently revealed during an appearance on Fighting Words with Mike Straka that the stoppage was warranted and that he had actually begun to lose consciousness when referee Josh Rosenthal halted the bout.
“I never once disputed the tap, but I also didn’t know it happened,” admitted Sonnen. “Whether I tapped or I didn’t tap — and that’s by no way me saying I didn’t tap, I haven’t seen the video — it was the right stoppage. Josh [Rosenthal] woke me up to let me know the fight was over. Josh was saying my name the same way my mother used to wake me up for school in the morning. ‘Chael…Chael…’She’d say it over and over and it would kind of get in my dream and I’d snap out of it. That’s what it was like with Josh. He repeated my name three or four times and I remember when I came to, [I asked] ‘Am I the champion?’ I didn’t know how it ended. Josh Rosenthal is awesome. The UFC has awesome refs, and with that being said, he’s at the top of the list. Above all, his job is to keep us safe and he’s always kept me safe.”
Sonnen earned much in losing his UFC 117 bout with Silva and, in addition to proving that he has the gritty style and mentality to more-than-hang with “The Spider,” Sonnen has also endeared himself to MMA fans with his post-fight honesty and humility. Whether or not Sonnen will receive an immediate rematch against Silva remains to be seen but it is safe to assume that the fans will follow Sonnen into his next bout.