When the WEC, the UFC’s sister company, decided to dismantle their light heavyweight and middleweight divisions a year ago, who would have thought that Chael Sonnen would rise from the ashes and emerge as a legit threat in the UFC’s most lopsided division?
“Chael came out of nowhere,” UFC President Dana White admitted in the UFC 109 post-fight press conference. “He was in the WEC and came over here and has blown some people away.”
The Team Quest-trained fighter thoroughly destroyed former top middleweight contender Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 this weekend, bumping his professional record to an impressive 24-10-1.
For much of Sonnen’s career, he was considered nothing more than a talented journeyman that lacked the flair for the dramatics. Of his 24 victories, 14 have come by way of the judges’ scorecards – and we know how much UFC brass despise non-finishers.
However, what the Octagon owners do love, even if they may not openly admit it, is a good ‘ol fashioned trash-talker to add some funk to their fights, and without a doubt Sonnen can spit with the best of them.
“I don’t want to be an also-ran,” Sonnen said. “I want to be king of the mountain, otherwise I’ll move on in life. I think I can beat any man God ever made.”
White received much flack for his “Vitor Belfort Gets the Next Shot at Anderson Silva, NO MATTER WHAT” campaign as most believed Marquardt was the division’s clear-cut #1 contender after Dan Henderson bolted for Strikeforce’s greener pastures.
However, White stubbornly stuck to his guns and was rewarded with a new legitimate threat to the 185-pound crown.
“We have Vitor and Anderson which is interesting and exciting, and now there’s another guy who is waiting in line who is interesting and exciting. He brings something different into the fight that a lot of people are going to look at. If he gets this thing to the ground, it’ll be an interesting fight. He popped out of nowhere, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
It took a while for the 33-year-old Sonnen to finally get here, but make no mistake about it, he has certainly arrived.