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Chael Sonnen on Metamoris 6 being closed to the public: 'This is a risky move'

"The American Gangster" will be taking on Renato "Babalu" Sobral at Metamoris 6 on Saturday, May 9, 2015. He spoke to MMAMania about not competing in front of a crowd and in a secret location, his "You're Welcome" podcast, and learning new techniques in jiu-jitsu.


Metamoris 6 is taking place on Saturday, May 9, 2015, featuring a main event between Josh Barnett and Ryron Gracie.

In the co-main event, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title contender Chael Sonnen will be taking on Renato "Babalu" Sobral in his second career Metamoris match.

If you want to see it, there is only one way you can: watching the pay-per-view (PPV) stream online on for $29.95. That's because the promotion is taking a different approach for this event, as it will be closed to the public and the media.

Sonnen spoke to MMAMania about the unusual approach by Metamoris for Saturday's event.

"I don't know what their plan is," he said. "I've only done one Metamoris before and I had a great time, and it's one of those situations where I'm going to have to go through with... To answer your question I have no more info than you have. I've been told the same thing. Not open to the public and not open to the press, I just read that today. So, I don't know anything more than you do."

The event is also being held in a undisclosed, secret location, which screams old martial arts movies. Does the kumite competition in Blood Sport ring a bell?

"Did you write a piece on that today and actually say that?" Sonnen asked, referring to the MMAMania story on the subject. "Yes," I answered. "Ok, I read that I just didn't know that was you. I read that. That was a good piece. I liked the comparison. I think that is the analogy they are going for too. I think they were probably flattered when they saw that."

Sonnen spoke about the boldness of the move by Metamoris to not hold the event in front of a live crowd, like their five previous events.

"It's Ralek Gracie. He is a smart dude," said Sonnen, who lost to Andre Galvao at Metamoris 4. "His dad started the UFC, he knows what he is doing. This is a risky move in my opinion. This hasn't been done before the way that he is doing this. It's got a lot of people talking, but we will see if that equates to pay-per-view. I don't know. He is a smart guy. He is taking an artistic approach, and as far as I'm concerned it's going to be a ‘let's wait and see' attitude. We are going to have to reserve judgement."

The retired UFC middleweight/light heavyweight has competed in front of large crowds in major arenas for the majority of his career. Now at Metamoris 6, it will be a much quieter affair, and at a location he doesn't yet know of.

Sonnen has a certain idea of how the match against "Babalu" will feel and mentioned not having a crowd to grapple in front of can be a detriment in some ways.

"My understanding is there is a studio somewhere," Sonnen explained. "He has a location and 24/7 the apparatus if you will--the ring--is set up. He has the camera set up and it's the situation where they just have to go turn everything on and stream it online. How much of that is right? I don't know. That's what I'm envisioning when I close my eyes at night and I picture this match.

"It's two of us walking out into a quiet room in front of nobody and have our match. I'm pretty sure I'm right whether it's a studio or it's like what you said and it's just an academy somewhere, which would be pretty cool. Either way there is not going to be a crowd and that matters. The crowd can really drive you. It matters. It's more of a practice room feel."

Sobral and Sonnen have met twice before in MMA competition. In their first fight, "The American Gangster" defeated "Babalu" by decision on the California regional circuit in 2003, before losing the rematch at UFC 55 via triangle choke in 2005.

Sonnen, who has always been known for his wrestling pedigree, does own four career victories by submission, and has also been training in jiu-jitsu for some time now. He was awarded his purple belt last September under Fabiano Scherner, who heads the Gracie Barra school in Portland.

The ESPN MMA analyst said he is enjoying the on-going learning process in jiu-jitsu.

"I've certainly been learning a lot," he said. "This isn't my field. I'm a little out of the water here, but I like it a lot and I'm learning a lot and it's fun. I hadn't learned a whole lot in a number of years. It kind of slows down. When you know so little in an area like jiu-jitsu, for me, you still are going to go in and learn 2-3 things everyday, which is pretty cool. I've had a lot of fun with it and I'm definitely ready to go."

His competitive fire will always burn, and you don't have to worry about Sonnen not engaging with his opponent, like when Brendan Schaub didn't engage with Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu. He is going to get after it.

"I will go right at him and jump on this guy," Said Sonnen, who recently signed with GFW Wrestling to be an announcer. "What happens after that, I don't know. It's a two-man sport. We know each other and we fought a couple of times. We are one a piece and we are going into number three," he said. "I think we are both ready to settle this thing once and for all."

The match against Sobral is an open-weight contest and Sonnen is happy he doesn't have to cut any weight. "It allows some enjoyment to come back," said Sonnen, who has been very busy with his ESPN duties, which are going very well, he said.

"It's going good," he said. "They have a commitment to the sport, which is very nice. That commitment didn't even exist a year ago. The commitment is small at this point. It's a bit of a tester proposition, but it's going well. People are tuning in and they are starting to find out they can get MMA coverage on ESPN. They are starting to go over and the numbers are looking good. We are starting to get more and more time. We have some really good leadership over there that is pushing it. So, it's a good opportunity for MMA."

The former co-host of UFC Tonight also has a lot of his time tied up in his hit podcast "You're Welcome" on the Podcast One website. The show launched in October and he has hosted 30 episodes so far, with guests ranging from UFC fighters to Rainn Wilson from the Office, Ed O'Neill, Jamey Jasta from the band Hatebreed and legendary wrestling announcer, Jim Ross.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It is the number one podcast in the MMA space. It's hot. When people tune in and listen and like it, it makes it fun and it allows me to participate here in my retired days and I like it."

Metamoris will begin at 3PT PT on Saturday, May 9, 2015 and will stream on pay-per-view for $29.95 via the website.

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