Chael Sonnen is a long-time veteran of mixed martial arts, having fought in multiple promotions over the course of a 20-year professional career. In that time, he’s racked up a 28-15-1 record and multiple title shots. His next fight, against Wanderlei Silva, headlines the Bellator MMA 180 card this Saturday at Madison Square Garden. While Sonnen was in town promoting the fight, he stopped by the CBS Local studios to discuss how he got started in the fight game and his last match, a loss to Tito Ortiz.
“I was born into combat. My father was a wrestler, my uncles were wrestlers, my cousins were great wrestlers, they were my heroes and I wanted to be like them and anything that they did, I wanted to do,” said Sonnen. “I didn’t really have a choice. As far as getting into MMA, I was watching it one day at my buddy Jeff’s house. He had a VHS that we rented of the first-ever UFC, it was this little guy named Royce Gracie beating three guys in one night and as soon as I saw MMA the first time I thought, whoever’s the MMA champion is the toughest guy.”
Sonnen’s debut bout in Bellator at Bellator 170 in January, didn’t go the way he wanted as he lost in the first round to Tito Ortiz by way of submission by rear naked choke. Sonnen was bluntly honest about why he believes he lost that fight, attributing it to a lack of motivation on his part.
“Tito Ortiz sucks and I just lost to him fair and square,” said Sonnen. “That’s tough. I haven’t been motivated in this sport for about ten years. In the last ten years, I’ve fought for five world championships so, I was able to get by just being a disciplined athlete but I wasn’t a motivated athlete. That’s not something that you can force, you either are or you aren’t. For the first time in a decade, I’m very motivated right now. Largely, it was because of the performance to that bum Tito.”
As Sonnen steps into the octagon against Silva on Saturday night, it’s the first time the two have met inside the octagon. But, that hasn’t stopped some bad blood from brewing between the two.
“Wanderlei Silva drives me nuts and he would tell you the same thing about me,” said Sonnen. “We never got it right from the beginning. What the genesis of that was? I can’t fully remember. This goes back to about 2001, I could never get the fight, he wouldn’t do the fight. About a decade went by, and I finally got the fight signed, we both ended up in the principal’s office on suspension, we both came out of those suspensions and we’re finally here. When it comes to Wanderlei Silva, I can’t think of anybody else I’d rather punch.”
Bellator 180, Sonnen vs. Silva, takes place this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. For more information on the fight card and the pay-per-view, or to buy tickets, head over to Bellator’s site.