Chael Sonnen: Heavyweights suck
Chael Sonnen fights Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 208 on Saturday in a semi-final fight of the Heavyweight Grand Prix. After the press conference on Thursday, Sonnen talked MMA's heavyweight division. In boxing, over generations, it is the most popular division. In MMA, not so much.
“The best thing to do with heavyweights is to keep them the hell from any other weight class,” said Sonnen to Fernanda Prates and Mike Bohn for MMAjunkie. "They’re the worst athletes in the room. They’re the slowest guys in the room. They’re the laziest guys in the room – which is why they weigh so goddamn much.
“If you want to keep the mystique going on to the public that size matters and that the big guys are better, just because they’re bigger, if you want to keep that false narrative out there, keep us real athletes away from the heavyweights. I think [light heavys in the Grand Prix] was a risky move. They tried it on the other side of the tracks, and a light heavyweight now has that strap, too. Heavyweights suck.”
However, Sonnen had to offer grudging respect for the understated Emelianenko, who may be the greatest fighter in the history of MMA.
“He shows up in a language that nobody can understand, in a T-shirt that nobody can read, and somehow that gets over,” acknowledged Sonnen. “And I wouldn’t encourage any young fighter to copy that example, unless you want to have a short career and no money, and bad memories when it’s over. I would encourage you to find another guy and take his paradigm. But it seems to work for him.
“I’m not really saying this to be the skunk of the garden party, as much as to point out that, look, he figured something out. Brock Lesnar is the same way. There’s a mystique around them that happens to work and less is more. If he opens his mouth, he runs the risk of ruining the mystique. It’s still a marketing angle, it’s still a gimmick, and people can choose to believe that he’s the world’s nicest guy. And he might be, but he might not. You don’t know him, and neither do I.”
“He’s a nerd, man. I don’t know what nerds do. I satisfy the other end of the market. The cool kids come watch Chael fight. I don’t have any idea. He’s walking around, he’s holding the King James. Keep that stuff private. I don’t know.”
“I’ve sold more pay-per-views than anybody, more tickets than anybody, that was on the other side of the bridge. Now I’m over there with the boys in San Jose – I still have the live gate record. I did it a year ago, at MSG, and nobody’s touched it since. I will outdo myself once again; beat my own records. It’s the same thing I had to do my whole career, and nobody else wants to talk to anybody else. And I’m not even trying to be an arrogant prick about it. I realize how that sounds."