Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen in the ring prior to his fight against Anderson Silva (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
"Anderson Silva you absolutely suck. I'm calling you out Silva, but we're upping the stakes. I beat you, you leave the division. If you beat me, I will leave the UFC forever."
While Sonnen has repeatedly claimed that the offer was rescinded once Silva failed to accept his challenge, perhaps there was some truth to his words after all.
So says Neil Melanson during a guest appearance earlier tonight on The Verbal Submission. Melanson is the head grappling coach at Xtreme Couture and he took over Sonnen's UFC 148 pre-fight training camp when Sonnen's head coach Scott McQuary suffered a heart attack in the lead up to perhaps the biggest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rematch in the history of the promotion.
Sonnen not only failed to defeat Silva last night (July 7, 2012) in the main event of UFC 148, one of the biggest and most hyped UFC pay-per-view (PPV) events of all time, but he was thoroughly trounced in the second round after once again making a mental lapse and throwing a strike he had no business throwing.
After cashing in big with a likely huge pay-per-view bonus, does Sonnen still have anything to fight for if he can't be champion?
Melanson was extremely candid in his discussion of Sonnen's performance, and he almost surprised himself when he brought up the two-time UFC middleweight title challenger's future.
"Any time you're a part of training camp or you're friends with somebody and they lose, you just worry about them like, how are they gonna handle it mentally? Are they gonna come back from this? You know, I don't know what Chael's plans are, but I got a feeling he's done fighting. I don't know. I've just got a feeling he's done. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think he was serious when he said, 'If you beat me, I will leave forever,' and there's a very good chance of that."
Sonnen had said on numerous occasions in the lead-up to last night's bout that if he can't be the champion, there's no point in fighting anymore. With two losses to Anderson Silva, no matter how much he dominated before being stopped in both fights, it's next to impossible that "The Gangster from West Lynn, Oregon" will be getting another shot anytime soon, if ever.
Melanson believes last night's defeat could have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
"I never met anyone that had a scenario where it's like, 'If I don't win this then I'm done,' it never worked out positive for them because, just in my experience, you have to love the grind and if you love the grind, eventually you'll get what you want because you give up what you need to give up. Apparently Chael had his limit like, 'This is it, I've had enough. If I don't win this then it's all not worth it.' Having lost that, yeah, there's a very good chance he could pursue other things. He's a very smart guy, very well spoken. I know, whether he'll admit to it or not, he has a lot of passion to be a broadcaster of sorts. He seems to excel in any type of speaking arrangement. He loves doing interviews. He loves hyping fights and I'm sure he loves training. He's a good fighter. He's a great fighter and he's an awesome athlete but he can't fight forever and maybe he's at a point he'd like to do something else. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong."
If this is true, it would be a stark contrast to Sonnen's comments to the media at the UFC 148 post-fight presser where he declared he still had something to fight for:
"You can't get down. You can't get depressed. Every single day you get up, you've got to make the most of it. I really believe that if you're going to be in this company [UFC], and take up a spot, you've got to be chasing a championship.... It's tough but, unfortunately, it's not my first athletic defeat. In this sport you have a 50 percent chance of failure. So you get out there and put in your mouthpiece and you do the best you can. You've got to man up sometimes."
So now it comes down to who do you believe?
Chael Sonnen, who has repeatedly said whatever it takes to get himself in the headlines, or his friend and trainer who was with him every step of the way in the latter half of his UFC 148 training camp?
The world will most certainly find out soon enough.