“If those blowhards with their blow tarts come for me, they can send anybody they like – but don’t send anybody you would like to come back!”
(Chael Sonnen, after UFC ON FOX victory assuring him of title fight against UFC Middle Weight Champion Anderson Silva in Brazil, responding to reporter’s question at post-fight press conference Jan. 28, 2010 about rumors of threats to Sonnen if fight is made.)
Oregon’s Chael Sonnen, Team Quest Mixed Martial Arts superstar, won a unanimous decision in his co-main event fight with England’s Michael Bisping on “UFC ON FOX” on Saturday, January 28, 2010, and with it a second shot for the United Fighting Championship Middle Weight title.
The victory of Sonnen, West Linn native, former All American wrestler at the University of Oregon, and U.S. Olympic Team alternate, came in a UFC event which is believed to have been seen by more people than any MMA event in history. A sold-out crowd of 17,500 filled the arena in Chicago, while millions more saw it on the FOX network all across America and in twenty-four foreign countries, according to FOX
The Fox broadcast was only the second nationwide broadcast of an MMA bout on a major television network. The fact that MMA is being broadcast on a major television network is perceived as MMA, once condemned as “too violent” and even as “bloodsport,” having achieved mainline recognition and respect as an equal of other professional sports, and as involving some of the greatest athletes in the world. It is the fastest growing sport in America.
UFC ON FOX is scheduled to broadcast three more UFC events this year pursuant to a contract reached in 2011, when FOX broadcast one event, the Heavyweight Championship won by Brazilian Junior Dos Santos, defeating the then-Champion, American Cain Velasquez.
Now that Sonnen has achieved his victory in Saturday’s fight with Bisping, it is anticipated that one of the remaining three UFC ON FOX broadcasts will be a much-anticipated rematch between Sonnen and the undefeated Middle Weight Champion, Brazilian Anderson Silva.
Will Champion Anderson Silva Sign To Fight Sonnen After First Fight Experience?
However, the question is whether Silva will sign a contract to fight Sonnen, the only man to literally manhandle, and nearly defeat, Silva in their first fight. Sonnen claims Silva has been ducking a rematch with him ever since.
The main event on UFC ON FOX on Saturday was also for a title shot for the Light Heavy Weight Crown. Rashad Evans, a former champion of the 205-pound division, won a five-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Phil Davis, a former All American wrestler for Penn State. The three judges gave Evans all five rounds in the fight. Evans will take on the phenomenon, UFC Light Heavy Weight Champion Johnny Jones, at 21 the youngest UFC champion in history.
Sonnen, generally regarded as the No. 1 Contender for the Middle Weight crown after his near victory over Silva and Sonnen’s victories after that fight, won a unanimous decision over Michael Bisping. One judge scored all three rounds for Sonnen and the other two judges awarded him two rounds to one.
While Sonnen, with his superior wrestling skills, totally dominated the third and final round, taking Bisping to the ground in the first seconds of the round and keeping him there to the final seconds, the first two rounds were very close, as Sonnen, himself, stated in a post-fight press conference in which he praised the performance of Bisping.
Post-Fight Press Conference – Praise For Bisping; Criticism For Silva
Although Sonnen, whose intelligence and wit are as sharp as his fighting skills and have made him one of the most colorful fighters in MMA, often called the “Quotable Chael Sonnen,” he was gracious to Bisping in victory:
“It was a tough fight,” Sonnen said. “In the first round, he hit me so hard I felt it from my jaw all the way to my toes. I didn’t even know what day it was….But I did what I had to do to win….I know I won the third round, but the first two were close. It could have gone either way…He’s a real tough fighter. I don’t have anything bad to say about the guy.”
But as for Anderson Silva, the Brazilian Champion who has never been defeated and is generally regarded as the best fighter pound-for-pound in the world,” Sonnen had strong remarks, accusing Silva of ducking a return match with a series of excuses.
In his first fight with Silva, Sonnen dominated Silva every minute of every round—until the last minute and 50 seconds of the fifth and last round. Then, Silva, although appearing totally beaten up and defeated, managed to apply a “triangle choke hold” that caused Sonnen to tap out just before passing out. Until that moment, the last seconds of the last round, every judge had given every round to Sonnen.
Since that time, Sonnen has repeatedly called out Silva for a rematch, without avail. Sonnen’s victory Saturday, in which UFC president Dana White promised the winner was guaranteed the next title shot against Silva, gives Sonnen his long awaited opportunity for a second fight for the title. It has been called “the most anticipated rematch in UFC history.”
Asked at the post-fight press conference when he would be ready to fight, Sonnen responded that he was ready to fight at any time, but there is a question of whether Silva will actually sign a contract for the fight, or would duck it again.
“What people don’t know — and I don’t want to get in trouble with the [UFC] brass for saying this — but the truth is they [the UFC] have offered him this fight four times. Every time he hasn’t signed…Four times,” Sonnen said. “He has made up one excuse after another…He may make another excuse now….Even retire… So, I’m ready, but I don’t know if he’ll ever sign…He may vacate the title…I just don’t know what he’ll do….But I am ready, anytime, anywhere.”
UFC reportedly intends to stage the fight, if Silva signs, in a soccer stadium in Brazil, where MMA has a huge following.
When asked at the press conference about rumors that threats had been made to do harm to Sonnen if he goes to Brazil to fight, Sonnen, summoning up the razor wit which has made him perhaps MMA’s most quotable fighter, said:
“If those blowhards with their blow tarts come for me,” Sonnen said,” they can send anybody they like – but don’t send anybody you would like to come back!”
Sonnen Returns To Roots In Oregon, West Linn, Team Quest, Awaiting Fight
Sonnen began training at Team Quest in Portland (Gresham) when he was a wrestler for West Linn High School, being trained by such as MMA Legends and Team Quest founders as Matt Lindland, Oregon’s Olympic Silver Medalist, and Randy Couture, UFC Hall of Fame member and five-time heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion. Couture, who served as a commentator on the FOX ON UFC broadcast, lauded Sonnen’s performance on Saturday, recalling first meeting Sonnen when he came to Team Quest as a high school kid. Sonnen went on to become an All American wrestler for the University of Oregon, and U.S. Olympic Team alternate.
Now, Sonnen, still a Team Quest member, where he began, is himself an MMA superstar. He has now been seen winning in a UFC bout broadcast by FOX all over the world, “fighting out of West Linn, Oregon,” as he was introduced by the ring announcer.
He could go anywhere now, but he said he will return home to his roots in Oregon, in West Linn; he’ll continue to coach kids in the “All Phase Wrestling Club” associated with West Linn High School; he’ll return to Team Quest’s training centers for his grueling training regime; and he’ll await the opportunity to fight for the UFC Middleweight Championship of the World.
Good for him; good for Team Quest; good for West Linn; and good for Oregon.
[Rees Lloyd, an attorney and resident of Portland, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.]
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