It’s been a long, hard year for Chael Sonnen, but the controversial UFC middleweight has finally emerged from the other side of his ordeal intact and is preparing to go back on the warpath.
Sonnen’s return to the Octagon — which comes over a year after his last appearance, when he challenged Anderson Silva for the belt — will come against surging contender Brian Stann, who’s riding an impressive three-fight winning streak.
Those looking forward to Sonnen’s famed pre-fight trash talk may just have to make do with the West Linn, Oregon native’s frequent shots at his Brazilian peers.
“I come into this fight with a lot of respect for Brian, because unlike most of my previous opponents, he deserves respect,” Sonnen recently told Yahoo! Sports. “I don’t have anything bad to say about him because he isn’t a monkey-eating thug. He’s a decorated war hero and a hell of a brawler.”
Once a would-be politician, Sonnen lauded the mettle of his war hero opponent and predicted that their fight will see neither man give an inch.
“This isn’t a petty grudge match against some bum Brazilian, this is a good old-fashioned gladiator match,” said Sonnen. “He’s the best counterpart to my skills in years. I’ve never fought a real warrior before, and I can promise you that no matter the outcome, Oct. 8 will be a battle of men.”
As talk of their UFC 136 match heats up, there will no doubt be fair questions asked of Sonnen; questions about ring rust and about his mindset after such an arduous year. The 34-year-old touched on the range of emotion he’s experienced throughout his federal legal trouble and multiple suspensions, explaining that he feels he’s run the gauntlet from the height of success to the depths of anguish.
“I don’t want to take you through the entire process of what I was thinking,” he said. “Because the truth is, I went through the entire gamut of human experience in less than a year. I felt world domination at my fingertips. I felt frustration bordering on despair. And I felt everything in between. One thing I do have to say is that I never stopped fighting or pushing myself. I always had my eye on the next fight, no matter how far away it seemed.”
UFC 136 goes down on October 8 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.