UFC 117 Spotlight: Sonnen Blew It

Posted: July 8, 2010 in Commentary/Opinion, UFC Events

As I begin a rough draft of this feature, I am watching WWE Raw for the first time in quite a while. Maybe a couple years.  I admit I’ve been a fan for a good part of my life.  I won’t try to hide that fact.  In fact one of the highlights of my entire life remains a night while visiting Charlotte, NC for a series of meetings for my job.  I was invited to attend a big dinner hosted by a large vendor my company did business with.  While trying to act somewhat competent in front of several high level executives, I noticed a familiar face walk into the restaurant—Ric Flair.  Needless to say, I am not currently with that company anymore.  However I did get to spend about 10 minutes speaking with one of my childhood heroes.  It still brings back great memories thinking about that night, as well as what a great guy Flair was for allowing me to interrupt his dinner with his then-girlfriend.

Anyone familiar with the most recent incarnation of Ric Flair (actually dating back well over 10 years now), you probably know him as the highly decorated ring warrior who has earned the applause and respect of the fans due to his long and storied history inside the squared circle.  Looking back to his heyday however, you might remember a little different version of the Nature Boy.  He was an incredible talker, always quick with an insult.  His brash arrogant style rubbed people the wrong way and made him the most hated man in the sport.  One of his trademarks was taking on a lesser opponent and taunting and mocking him.  Hell, it didn’t even have to be an opposing fighter.  Flair often ridiculed and mocked fans and announcers too (my favorite was his “sit down fat boy” remark shouted at a teenage fan).  He dressed well, looked good, had a woman on each arm, and had—most notably—a shiny gold belt around his waist.  Quite simply, he was better than everyone else and he made sure we all knew it.  He was the ultimate heel, and he sold more tickets than anyone in that part of the country because of it.

Moving from 1985 back to 2010, a few things have changed.  Most notably, I am now much more interested in MMA than its older, somewhat illegitimate cousin.  One thing that hasn’t changed though is the drawing power of Good vs Evil; Hero vs Villain.  That combo never gets old.  Which is why on the few occasions we see this formula inside the octagon, it adds a whole new level of interest.  Couture vs Coleman—2 likeable older legends of the sport with the utmost respect for each other…dud.  Liddell vs Tito—2 legends of the sport who hate each other’s guts…awesome!  Where’s the line for tickets?

MMA relies on the sport itself to be its main draw.  Rua vs Machida?  There was no villain, no good guy, and no home town favorite.  I wanted to buy that ticket because of the matchup itself.  2 top shelf fighters at the apex of their careers.  It didn’t need any more drama built in.

Now we have UFC 117 just weeks away.  The main event will feature Anderson Silva, the brash arrogant unapologetic heel whose behavior has disgusted so many fans of late.  Silva is quite simply better than everyone else, and wants everyone to know it.  Sound familiar?

This is a perfect opportunity for his next opponent to become the most popular man in the sport.  After all, EVERYONE wants Silva to be taught a lesson right?  He’s a bully.  All we need is a clean cut, aw shucks small town boy who isn’t afraid of the best pound for pound fighter on earth.  Enter Chael Sonnen.  See, this is the part where things get a little fuzzy.  As we have learned over the past few months, Sonnen doesn’t exactly understand the concept of hero vs villain.  See Chael, we already hate Silva.  Remember the little square-dance he did with the Maia?  How about the public humiliation of UFC fave Forrest Griffin?  How about the documentary segment he filmed for UFC while choosing to wear a shirt that said “I F**K ON THE 1st DATE”?  These are not the moves of a fan favorite, Chael.  Remember this: we don’t know who you are!  But we know who Silva is.  He already picked, and he chose “heel.”  You Chael—by default—get to be the good guy. And boy, did you screw this up.

Saying things on your Twitter account insulting Silva, the Nogueira brothers, Nate Marquardt and using borderline (at best) racist statements against Ed Soares and his entire team isn’t just ill-advised, it’s just plain stupid.  No one paid to watch Ric Flair wrestle Buddy Landel (in case you don’t remember Buddy, he was the guy who used the EXACT same gimmick as Flair—same haircut, same trunks, same nickname, same moves—but was missing one thing…Flair’s talent). No one cared.   Heel vs Heel is NOT a big seller, Chael.

If Sonnen’s personality was at all likeable, he stands to make tons of money in this fight.  He can set himself up to become one of UFC’s most loveable characters.  He could have easily become the dirt-under-the-fingernails, “I’m just happy to be here” guy.  What a story it would make.  He could have been the more svelte version of Mike Russow.  He blew this chance so badly that I seriously question Sonnen’s intelligence.  Not only did he most likely piss Silva off, which virtually ends his chance of victory; but even in the unlikely event that he captures the belt, he will instantly become the most insignificant champion since…well, I can’t even think of one.  Tim Sylvia?

So as UFC 117 approaches, I suppose I will be watching as always.  But I will personally blame that idiot Chael Sonnen for ruining what could have been a true rarity in UFC—a classic good vs evil encounter.  Ric Flair certainly didn’t invent that concept but let’s face it, he did master the technique.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.  Then again, Chael Sonnen is no genius.  And apparently he’s no Ric Flair either…unfortunately.

Note to Chael Sonnen: After Landel’s 15 minutes of fame expired, and the fans grew bored with his Ric Flair “Mini Me” gimmick he was soon out of the limelight. In 2009 he was spotted, still sporting a bleach-blonde hairstyle from the 80’s and calling himself “the real Nature Boy” at a small time event at a tiny boys club in rural Arkansas. Don’t take it personally Chael…I’m just sayin’.


  1. DAVE says:


  2. […] Marquardt, he did something strange. He started talking trash to the best fighter in the world. I wrote an entire article skewering Sonnen for being a dick. I begged him to play the role of “good guy underdog,” […]

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