Chael Sonnen will collide with former UFC champion Lyoto Machida later tonight (Fri., Jun 14, 2019) at Bellator 222 live on DAZN from inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, in hopes of locking down a future title shot with current Bellator light heavyweight king Ryan Bader.
At 42 years of age, this may be the last chance for Sonnen to win a major world title. He wasn’t able to do it under the UFC banner after losing twice to the legendary Anderson Silva at 185 pounds and once to pound-for-pound great Jon Jones at light heavyweight, and has been unable to put himself back in position to challenge for gold over the past six years.
Sonnen, who made a promise to his late father that he wouldn’t stop fighting until he earned himself a world title, is hoping to take out Machida this evening at Bellator 222 and lock down presumably his last title shot against the aforementioned Bader, who is also Bellator MMA’s heavyweight champion.
“At this point, I almost regret it and wish I would’ve kept it as a personal motivation for myself,” Sonnen told MMA Junkie. “It is a lot of pressure. … I will either win the championship, or I will be a failure, I believe that wholeheartedly. I was told when I was 17-years-old by Matt Lindland, we were both on a wrestling quest at that time. But, he told me, ‘You cannot retire unless you win a world championship; you can only quit.’ I don’t want to be a quitter.”
Sonnen, who is coming off a disappointing TKO loss to the great Fedor Emelianenko last October at heavyweight, has posted an even 2-2 record since making his Bellator MMA debut back in 2017. In both his wins and losses, Sonnen has leaned on the same gameplan to try and tire opponents with strong wrestling and a suffocating top game. Things will be no different tonight at Bellator 222 as “American Gangster” aims to take “Dragon” off his feet.
“Looking at it going in with, say the intimidation factor, he’s right up there because he’s so weird,” Sonnen added. “I don’t have anybody in Portland that does what he does. We don’t do karate. In my mind we settled this debate of wrestlers vs. karate guys in 1993. That’s what I thought happened, but he stuck around, and that’s a credit to him. But somehow he’s found a way to make a sport that sucks effective.”
Even at this stage of his career Sonnen remains one of the most popular names in MMA. Should he get past Machida and back in the win column there’s no doubt that Bellator will push him into a title fight with Bader and let Sonnen try one more time to hoist a world championship.
Bellator 222’s main card will start at 10 p.m. ET with “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6:30 p.m. ET, both of which will stream exclusively on the aforementioned DAZN. MMAmania.com will deliver results and play-by-play for the entirety of the Bellator 222 card below.