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Some people call him a genius, a master in the art of baiting opponents and engaging fans to either watch him win or watch him get his comeuppance, but most people watch him. That was until he fought Brian Stann and the long-term fans of MMA remembered that without the insults and controversy, Chael Sonnen is just a wrestler who trains his strengths and makes strides towards becoming a well-rounded fighter.
No more, no less.
Sonnen turned in a dominant performance at UFC 136 against what I believe was a mediocre fighter with heavy hands, but that wasn't enough. What separates MMA from other sports is the sportsmanship. It's the respect that a fighter who dedicates his life to stepping in a cage in front of millions of people and fighting another man one-on-one has for the man who has done the same thing to get in there and do the same thing.
Chael Sonnen has thrown that out to talk his way into another title shot
It is one thing to appear racist, it's another thing to be convicted of a felony then brag "that's all i got caught for," or to test positive for performance enhancers and then get caught in a web of lies afterwards. Sonnen decided that wasn't enough and he was going to talk about putting his hands on Anderson Silva's wife, doing what no man, competitive or not, should ever do.
I keep reading these pieces online about Silva ducking Sonnen, a man he beat at UFC 117 on what could have been his worst day, and Sonnen's best day. I think Silva knows one thing through all of this, nobody cares about Chael Sonnen unless Silva is involved.
There was little fanfare when Sonnen fought ANYONE else, with perhaps the exception of Paulo Filho, only because Sonnen's controversy about phantom tapping in the first match and the then-unstoppable Filho seemingly checked out of reality for the second.
Silva owes Sonnen nothing.
For the lines he has crossed both professionally and personally, Silva doesn't owe him another fight or even an acknowledgement of his existence.
Anderson Silva is a fighter who fights the best in the world. Regardless of what his record is, that's what he does. He has the quality that makes an MMA fighter an MMA fighter, the lack of fear to fight another man. He did not get to where he is just by hand picking opponents and having fear in him that someone might beat him up.
Fear has nothing to do with this equation, power does.
When Anderson eventually accepts the fight with Sonnen, he will be doing him an enormous favor, both financially and professionally, and he knows it. I, for one, hope he makes Chael earn his title shot like everyone else, because if threats against spouses and testosterone injections are what it takes to earn a title shot, MMA is headed in a direction that will alienate a lot of its original fans.