In part two of my conversation with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) superstar Chael Sonnen, the ever-outspoken mixed martial arts (MMA) light heavyweight fighter discussed a wide range of topics, including his thoughts on career longevity, a big money offer he received from "another company," and whether or not he's been able to reconcile himself to the outcome of his two-fight series with career-rival Anderson Silva.
To read part one of my exclusive interview with Sonnen, click here.
(Note: parts of this interview were edited for concision's sake)
Steve Borchardt: Not to be pushing you out the door or anything, but you're 36 right now which means you're probably closer to the end of your career than the beginning. How much longer do you see yourself fighting?
Chael Sonnen: There's no "probably" about it. I started my career at nine years old, so what is that 26 years ago? You are not offending me at all if you tell me I'm not going to go another 26 years. I will be the first to not only agree with that, but hope that statement is true.
I hear people say that they want to live forever, and I can tell you I'm not one of those people. We all want to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die. Well, I do. I do not want to be here forever. I do not want to be in this sport forever either. But I'll make the most of it while I can. And I tell you, athletes keep on pushing that further and further.
When I was a kid, a gentleman made the Olympic team in 1992, and his name was Chris Campbell. [He] made the Olympic team at 36, and the entire Olympic team -- and it didn't matter what sport -- they called him "grandpa."
Now, we've got guys that are getting into their stride in their forties. We've got Dan Henderson, one of the baddest guys in the world, who just turned 43. Of course we've got Bernard Hopkins, who I believe is 47, he might have just turned 48, and he just stopped a 23 year-old kid who was undefeated, for yet another world title. We're seeing swimmers like Dara Torres at 40 years old making Olympic teams and breaking their own past records.
So I've got these things that I cling to for hope. They are giving me hope that the human body can go a little bit further. I also find these guys that have extended their careers -- Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Bernard Hopkins -- I think it's a tremendous sign of success.
There's a lot of world champions that are done by 25 years old. They're sitting on their couch right now wondering, "How did these guys do it? How did they stay motivated? How did they stay focused? How did they train so smart and protect their bodies?"
I realize there's no belt that come along with those years, but it is a tremendous accomplishment to kick the can down the road.
Borchardt: Once you do retire, whenever that would be, do you see yourself transitioning full time into a career as a broadcaster?
Sonnen: I think that that's an opportunity. This is what is amazing about Dana White: so many people think of Dana White a fight promoter, and he is. But they don't realize that he didn't just create a company, he created an industry. Video games, toys, magazines, multiple television shows. It's truly an international, multibillion dollar industry created by one man. That's the same thing Bill Gates or Steve Jobs did. And while they may have changed the world electronically, Dana White has entertained the world on a weekly basis.
So I guess the point that I'm getting at is, the UFC has many different arms, and I have a tremendous interest in several of those arms. Broadcasting is one of them. But there's other stuff that goes on within the company. The PR and the marketing departments have always fascinated me. The magazine -- which is really catching on -- has always been something I'm very interested in.
I can tell you this: I've had offers from other companies. I'm sure without you asking me and without me saying which one, you know which one. They are for numbers that are even greater than I've got in the UFC. It's been well documented that I'm the highest paid fighter in the UFC. That's a revolving door, I'm not bragging about that.
With that said, I would never take those offers. I'm not for sale. I'm with the UFC. If it's in broadcasting, or if it's in something else, I've made my decision.
Borchardt: The UFC has a relationship with FOX currently. Would you be open to doing more broadcasting with FOX such as you've done so far?
Sonnen: Yes. I love to sit around and talk about sports. I can talk to you as long as you want about this sport. It's my favorite topic and it's really -- outside of politics -- it's really my only passion and expertise. I know it, I like it, and I really enjoy sharing my opinion on it. And I like hearing other peoples' opinions. If they wanna call that a job, I mean, I guess. I don't feel like it's a job.
I work under a man named George Greenberg. [He] offered me a raise one day, and I said, "George, when you finally make me work, I'll take your money. But until then, we're good."
Borchardt: Would you be interested in covering other sports, like Brian Stann who is now doing college football for instance, or would you like to stick to what you know best?
Sonnen: Brian Stann is awesome. I appreciate you plugging the fact that he's doing other sports. They love him over there. He was an All American linebacker in football, a lot of people don't know that because he went on to win a world title in the WEC, and was top ten in the UFC. He's a multifaceted guy, he's not just one dimensional.
I like to talk about sports. I'll have to expand my knowledge, but I enjoy it. My answer is "yes."
Borchardt: Talking a little about wrestling for a second, give me your thoughts on Clayton Jack -- who you've trained with before -- and how you think he's going to do in WWE?
Sonnen: Clayton Jack has never not succeeded. He was the best in high school wrestling. He moves on to college he was the best in college wrestling, not only within his team, not only within his conference of the PAC-10, but he ends up with All-American status.
Vince quickly came in and swooped him up. He's a big guy, and as athletic as is, as handsome as he is, the one thing that people don't know -- but they're gonna find out -- is his personality trumps both of those. He's tremendously funny, he's tremendously charismatic.
He's just a winner. He doesn't know how to not win, and he's gonna climb to the tops of those ranks as well, I can assure you.
Borchardt: Not necessarily Clayton in particular, but for a lot of high-level college wrestlers, do you think the UFC or the WWE presents a better career opportunity?
Sonnen: Well, one is of a competitive nature and one is of an entertainment nature, so I think that really lies with [the individual]. I know Brock Lesnar had a change of heart. He goes, "You know what, I won my national championship. I'm just done. I want to travel and see the country and the world, and I'm going to go into the 'wrasslin business."
Alright, fair enough. Well, a few years in, like a lot of people he really missed that [competition.] He missed the training; he missed the camaraderie; he missed putting it all on the line, risking it all. And he made the switch [to MMA]. Then he got his fill and he switched back [to WWE].
That's a very personal question that each one of those guys are going to have to answer on their own. I think that in the WWE you will have a better opportunity to get in there. The UFC is very, very difficult to get in. It's hard to get on [our roster]. It's really competitive.
But I'm a fan of both.
Borchardt: How long have you been a fan of pro wrestling?
Sonnen: I'm not a tremendous fan. I'm not a bigger fan than the average guy on the street. I date back to the 1980's and that's really where I leave off. I was a Hulk Hogan guy. There was a guy named the Junkyard Dog that I was a big fan of. And that's really where it ended.
Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock brought the world back to wrestling in the late 90's. Now I tune in and I watch CM Punk. That's kind of where I'm left at now. It was more of a childhood thing than a current [interest].
Borchardt: You mentioned before that you don't like the term "selling fights" but you do think fighters need to give fans a reason to become invested in fights. Can you tell me why fans should open up their wallets when you fight Rashad Evans at UFC 167 on November 16th?
Sonnen: Well here's what we have, I just [want to give fans] the opportunity, I want to let them know that on November 16th, at 7:00 PM -- 10:00 in the East and only on pay per view -- not only will the biggest star in the history of the business, Chael P. Sonnen be fighting, but the next best thing, Georges St-Pierre -- world Welterweight champion -- will be taking on number one contender Johny Hendricks.
And if that isn't enough, former champion and future hall of famer Rashad Evans will be part of that card along with many more.
The show sold out in 72 hours, so the next best thing is to get to a television and push "buy."
Let your parents know, "I want to be part of history. That's the guy dad, that's the guy that I told you about. That is Chael Sonnen. That is the one that changed the industry. That's the man. He's got the arms, the charm, and I want to watch him do the harm."
November 16th, 20th anniversary, biggest UFC of all time. If you want to be a part of the conversation at the water cooler the next day at the office, you too need to see this fight on the 16th.
Borchardt: Do you have a prediction in the GSP/Hendricks fight?
Sonnen: I think GSP is going to win that fight. I will tell you, he's in the toughest fight he's ever had. Johny Hendricks is not only the number one contender, but there's a pretty good margin between Johny Hendricks and the next best guy.
The whole goal in fighting is to get the two best guys in the ring together, but circumstance comes in the way a lot and so does debate.
There is no question in this case. Johny Hendricks not only went through everybody, he ran through everybody. Everybody in that division will step aside and tell you Johny Hendricks is the guy. That is a very rare thing when that happens. This industry is so competitive, we would never give the nod to our fellow competitor. We would always say "No, it should be me, I'm the guy." In this case fellow welterweights stand back, shut their mouths, and they point to the Bigg Rigg. So we are actually going to see, without question, the two baddest welterweights in the world collide on the 16th.
And, even though [GSP and Hendricks] are fighting last, in the true main event: Chael P. Sonnen takes on former world champion and future hall of famer Rashad Evans.
They keep saying the Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva rematch is gonna be the biggest fight in UFC history, but I guarantee you: Ronda, Meisha, Chris, and Anderson will not outdo Chael Sonnen and Georges St-Pierre. Mark my words.
And yes, Weidman and Ronda, that is an official challenge.
Borchardt: Do you see Weidman retaining his belt or do you think Silva can take it back?
Sonnen: It's ridiculous. Look, Silva is great. I don't want to at all disparage him. He had an awesome career. But you gotta understand one thing: in the history of combat -- I don't care if you're taking boxing, wrestling or MMA -- never once, not one time, never, ever, ever, ever has a rematch favored the older fighter.
Chris Weidman did not fight very well that night [at UFC 162]. Everyone talks about Anderson putting his hands down, that was one of the worst Chris Weidmans I've ever seen and he still dominated.
Borchardt: You've been bouncing around divisions, you've been at 205 for awhile now, but do you still see yourself going for a title eventually down the road? And would that be more important to you, or would you want to someday have a chance for redemption against Anderson Silva?
Sonnen: The title trumps everything, but I would fight Silva right now. And I wouldn't fight him for the same reasons. I wouldn't fight him out of the same animosity and chip on my shoulder, but I don't accept the outcome of either of those fights.
That first fight would have been stopped ten different times had he hit me as many times as I hit him.
And the second fight? I fell down. I didn't get knocked down, I fell down after having a 10-8 round one minute before. I don't accept that fight; I don't accept that knee he threw; I don't accept any of that crap. They called me knocked out. I couldn't have been more awake.
I will never accept that he won either of those fights.
One thing Sonnen has accepted is a fight against fellow FOX analyst Rashad Evans in the co-main event of UFC 167, which takes place on Nov. 16, 2013 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more on how that fight came together click here.