UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen says he was prepared to attend UFC: Silva vs. Okami recently and cheer on Yushin Okami during his fight with Anderson Silva.
But, after receiving double-figure death threats, and a report that one of Okami’s main sponsor threatened to pull out if Sonnen attended the UFC middleweight championship fight, the Oregon native decided it was best if he wanted from the comfort of his own home.
“It got a little bit out of hand,” said Sonnen during The MMA Hour Tuesday. “The level of death threats got a little bit high. I reached 10 death threats, and I think No. 7 was actually serious. By the looks of his eyes, it looked like he stabbed somebody before.
“It wasn’t my show, I wasn’t part of it. It wasn’t my night. I didn’t want to take attention off Yushin.”
Despite the obvious hatred for Sonnen that the Brazilian people showed him, he says he would have no problems fighting on a card in the country.
“I’m definitely willing to go there,” said Sonnen, as the UFC has plans to host a stadium show next year in Brazil. “There would be some security concerns but those guys and their blow darts don’t scare me.”
Sonnen was also impressed with how much devotion and love the Brazilians showed the fighters, especially those from their native country – something he says doesn’t happen all the time in North America.
“It like it. I think Brazil does it right. They support their fellow countrymen. In North America, we don’t support our countrymen. I have people that are American that want to see me lose to Anderson, and that’s OK, but it’s a little bit odd. In no other country would you turn on your own countrymen,” Sonnen said.
For now, Sonnen must focus on Brian Stann, who he meets at UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard lll in a bout that could determine the next challenger to Silva’s crown.
With Stann being a former U.S. soldier, Sonnen knows he probably will be booed heavily in Houston, Texas as well.
“I’m not asking for the crowd’s approval,” Sonnen said. “They can boo at the top of their lungs. I’m fine with that. If you’re going to cheer for somebody, cheer for your guy. But if a fan buys a ticket, he can do whatever he wants. It doesn’t bother me.”