There have been few fighters in the sport of mixed martial arts who have polarized audiences and fans the way that Chael Sonnen has.
You either love him or you hate him, there really is not much of an in-between.
To some, it may have seemed as though Sonnen came out of nowhere. Maybe it was his three-fight win streak (including a dominant victory over Nate Marquardt) leading up to his eventual title fight against Anderson Silva that garnered your attention.
Perhaps it was his trash talk campaign against "The Spider," followed up by a performance where he essentially beat up the champ for over four rounds before finally being caught in a submission towards the end of the fight.
If you're a more serious fan, you remember Sonnen from his days in the now-defunct WEC. You'd recall his two fights against Paulo Filho and all the banter involved (mainly having to do with Filho's ability to make weight).
Sonnen has been competing in mixed martial arts since 1997. He's fought at light heavyweight, as well as his current weight class of 185 pounds (middleweight). He has earned noteworthy wins over Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt, Trevor Prangley, Jason Miller, and Jason Lambert..
The former Realtor also has a strong wrestling pedigree, and was an All-American during his time at the University of Oregon.
Unfortunately, all Sonnen seems to be known for these days are his negative Twitter feuds (often times one-sided), his TRT related suspension, and his dirty misdoings in the real estate business.
Many MMA hardcores will argue that he is not, as he brings a professional wrestling and circus type atmosphere to the UFC that they (the fans) would prefer to distance themselves from. They fear that he makes the sport look like the sideshow that some already view it to be.
Others absolutely love the guy. They see his "material" for what it is: a shtick that was never meant to be taken seriously. He would appear to be either a cancer to the sport, or the Andy Kaufman of mixed martial arts. It just depends on who you talk to.
Regardless of your opinion of him and/or his character, he sells tickets, turns heads, and gets a reaction. Brock Lesnar had (and hopefully will continue to have) the same kind of polarizing effect. They both sell tickets and get people to tune in.
I agree that that, in of itself, does not make him good for the sport. People tune in to the Jerry Springer Show. That doesn't mean it's good entertainment, or anything I'd want to associate myself with. People listen to Ke$ha and she sells a lot of records.
At the end of the day, it all depends on how you view your sport, and what you believe is good for it. Do you want it to grow? Do you want it to expand, or to stay the way it is? There's really no right or wrong. It's a matter of opinion.
The one thing that cannot be discounted is that Chael Sonnen is a very good fighter. You can love him, or you can hate him, but you cannot deny his level of skill. TRT withstanding, Sonnen made Anderson Silva look human, and I can't remember the last time I've felt that way.
Sonnen's fight against Brian Stann is an exciting match-up. What more could you want? You've got the perfect heel and the perfect hero? Add in the fact that this could very well determine who the number one contender in the division is, and you've got yourself a huge seller.
Personally, I enjoy his shtick. I don't think he's being serious. I think it's funny. I'm looking forward to seeing him compete again.
What do you think?