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Chael Sonnen on fighting Lyoto Machida at Bellator 222, the future of MMA

Future Hall of Famer Sonnen is looking to get back on track following a loss via KO to another legend in Fedor

One of the most colorful personalities in MMA, Chael Sonnen has seen it all. From the WEC and the UFC all the way to Bellator, “The American Gangster” has talked his way into becoming an MMA human highlight reel.

When he is not in New York City attempting to get Tomahawk Steaks at Hunt and Fish, Sonnen (31-16-1) is doing all sorts of work for MMA. While he is set to face Lyoto Machida at Bellator 222 inside Madison Square Garden, Sonnen also has to think about his analyst duties with ESPN and Bellator while also working on a plethora of other deals.

“I like all sides of the business, as I believe I have a fair amount of knowledge of it,” Sonnen stated to Double G Sports at the Bellator 222 reveal. “Much like you, the rest of the media and fans, I like to participate. The more ways to be involved, the better. I like coaching. When I retire maybe I’d like to do that more, to give back to the MMA community. Just like other guys did for me.”

Sonnen has faced some of the best fighters in MMA today, beating the likes of Shogun Rua, Michael Bisping and Aleksei Oleinik. He has also lost to some of the best fighters today like Jon Jones and Anderson Silva. Regardless, the All-American knows how to sells a fight. Even if he isn’t the one closing it out, you can be damn sure he’ll make it competitive.

Recently, Sonnen has faced a Murderers’ Row of old school fighters. He ended his UFC run facing Rashad Evans and has since faced off against Tito Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Jackson and Fedor Emelianenko. In his last fight at Bellator 208, Fedor knocked out Chael to advance in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinal. While it wasn’t the outcome he wanted, it was one of his favorite matches to participate in.

“I enjoyed that fight against Fedor so much. Some fights are just painful and you don’t have a chance to enjoy it, not this one,” Chael went on to say. “Prior to that fight, I’ve only been knocked down once in my career. There is something about getting back up and running towards the canvas after your opponent that I really enjoyed.”

Chael now faces off against a guy who is on a three-fight win streak in Lyoto Machida. Having never faced off before, Sonnen and Machida (25-8) are looking to become true title contenders in this stage in their careers. Sonnen finds Machida’s style fascinating and is very interested in seeing how he can counter all that Machida can give.

“Machida has a unique style; left, right, backward, blitzes in, always ready to knock you out,” said Chael. “He’s different, and I admire that. I can’t copy that style, as I don’t have the same movement, flexibility and timing that he does. I have my own skill set, however. I’m going to use that and we’ll see who comes out on top.”

All fighters know when their time is up. For Sonnen, he doesn’t feel done yet. He does look into what the younger fighters are doing, however. While he doesn’t necessarily see the next Chael Sonnen, he sees a bright future for fighters in MMA. The only thing he recommends is something fighters like Ben Askren, Conor McGregor (grabbed the ball and ran with it) and even “Rampage” Jackson (underlooked) were able to master: be an interesting personality.

“Bellator has so many great fighters,” Chael stated. “A really great fighter is not that hard to find, quite frankly. How many people can punch, kick and grapple perfectly? Almost all of them. How many people can make you interested in them throwing punches, kicks and grappling? That is a very rare thing. I’d encourage the other guys to open their eyes and study. If you do that you will learn a lot from the business very quickly.” 

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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