Chael P. Sonnen does not mince words.
Despite not actively competing in mixed martial arts (MMA), the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight title challenger is as clued in as anybody in the sport. His time as an analyst for ESPN and commentator for World Series of Fighting is a testament to his involvement and knowledge of a life he has left behind (for now).
Well, Sonnen has once again made headlines after remarking over Ronaldo Souza's inability to step in on short notice at UFC 199 on June 4 to challenge current champion Luke Rockhold for the 185-pound title after Chris Weidman pulled out. Instead, long-time divisional contender Michael Bisping will get his first title shot as he meets Rockhold in a rematch.
"[Souza] is great. I would never make believe that he's not," said Sonnen in a recent interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour (transcribed by MMA Fighting). But the bottom line is, the word is ‘yes.' If you want an opportunity in America, when one comes, you need to know one word and that is ‘yes.' The difference between Michael Bisping and everybody else is one word: ‘yes.' When the opportunity came, that's what he said. ‘Jacare' is hurt? Look, fine, I'm sure he is hurt after that long, drawn-out war he just had with Vitor. You think Michael Bisping isn't hurt? Of course he's hurt. Whether he advertising it or not, he goes in and fights men everyday. There's no way to not be hurt. Who gives a damn if you're hurt, man? You're either a tough guy or you aren't."
As someone who has fought Anderson Silva for UFC gold twice, losing both times in epic fashion, Sonnen knows all there is to know about jumping on an opportunity when one presents itself.
"We're not worried about who the best fighter is," added Sonnen. "There's no way to know. It's too speculative. All we're trying to find out is who is the toughest guy in the world, at this weight class, in this set of rules, on this specific day. If you come forward and you go, ‘I can't even make the walk, I'm not even tough enough to make the walk,' fair enough, but you're now out of the conversation. They should take you out of the rankings."
While it's unlikely that UFC will remove Souza from the rankings, especially after dismantling Vitor Belfort via first-round TKO at UFC 198, Sonnen does make some sense. But the Brazilian did undergo knee surgery a little over a week ago, suggesting that he was in fact too injured to "make the walk."
"You can't hold the No. 3 spot in the world when you're openly telling everybody, ‘man, I'm not even tough enough to walk out there and try,'" said Sonnen. "Fair enough. People get hurt, I get it. But you're now not that guy. If you were a true tough guy, you shut your mouth and you make the freaking walk, and it's as simple as that. The chips fall where the chips fall. But Michael Bisping, for nothing else, is a tough guy and he said yes."