Outspoken UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen returned to ESPN’s MMA Live Thursday night, and, for once, Sonnen actually praised long-time rival Anderson Silva.
With the focus of the show being this past Saturday’s UFC Rio: Silva vs. Okami, the current UFC middleweight champion was obviously going to be a major part of the discussion.
Sonnen, who is set to meet Brian Stann in a title-eliminator fight at UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard lll on October 8, talked about the Silva-Yushin Okami fight, Forrest Griffin and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
The 34-year-old Sonnen (25-11) trained with Okami to prepare him for “The Spider,” as Sonnen had plenty of success against Silva when they met.
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Sonnen, in regards to Okami’s second round TKO loss. “I feel like Yushin never got started. I was cheering for Yushin from my home, yelling at my TV within 20 seconds saying, ‘This isn’t the strategy, this isn’t the plan.’ He weighted in a few pounds under (the 185-pound limit), so maybe he caught the flu or something, but he let Anderson dictate the pace.”
The subject of Silva being an invincible fighter also came up, and Sonnen was quick to disagree with that notion.
“(Silva) certainly is not unbeatable,” Sonnen stated. “He is starting to make guys think he is because people are not getting over the mental side, which is apparent when you start standing around watching Anderson.
“When he drops his hands and mocks you, he is getting ready. That’s his set up, so you have to reset him.”
Sonnen also named Dan Henderson and Randy Couture as guys he puts ahead of Silva in terms of legend-status because they won world titles in multiple divisions.
With a chance to avenge his fifth-round submission loss to Silva right there in front of him with a win over Stann, Sonnen seemed excited.
“Personally, it comes down to this. If you want the job done right, apparently I have to go out and do it myself,” Sonnen said. “I really thought Yushin could get it done, but Babe Ruth didn’t hit a home run every time he went to bat.
“Every dog has his day. I think Dan Henderson can (beat Silva). I’ve got the right to get in and do it again. Mark Munoz is an up-and-comer. Somebody needs to go out and get in a fight with him.”
On Griffin, who lost to “Shogun” Rua on the same card, Sonnen said, “He has a willingness to fight, but the Forrest now is the same Forrest as three years ago. He is not one step, one kick, one punch better than three years ago.”
Sonnen also discussed Nogueira’s surprise victory over Brendan Schaub, which some believe has vaulted Nogueira back into the heavyweight Top-10.
“This was one of the uglier fights I’ve seen in a while,” Sonnen said. “Good job to Nog, he had to overcome some real adversity and went out and won. Let’s not take that away from him.
“There are a lot of guys he can go out and fight, but please, don’t put him with somebody in the Top-10. He is a good name, a good draw, but let’s not talk about him in the Top-10, at least not from me.”