Chael Sonnen isn’t a legend of the sport because of his records or accomplishments inside the cage, but because he was one of the first fighters to fundamentally understand what makes fans care about fighting, and how to promote a cage match properly. As such, he’s probably the perfect person to break down Conor McGregor’s latest statement about eventually competing at middleweight.
“I do find an article on Conor McGregor and it includes a brand new statement,” Sonnen said in a new video on his YouTube channel. “I believe it was made last night, possibly at the same time or in conjunction with challenging Nate to a slap off. And it had to do with Conor going up to 185 pounds, which he assured the world ‘I absolutely will do that.’”
“My final analysis is: damn, Conor is good at making us talk about this. Conor’s better than anybody at getting people to talk about him.”
But while Sonnen is on board with McGregor’s middleweight talk as a promotional stunt, he doesn’t think it would be a wise choice in practice. And he wondered whether there was anyone left around “The Notorious” that would tell him the truth about his chances.
“We all have a reality that we have to face at some point,” Sonnen said. “You guys saw, a great example, when Bryan Callen and Joe Rogan sat Brendan Schaub down, that was their friend but they did it on camera. But we all have that moment, all of us, you guys too, whatever your journey or path. Someone confronted you with a reality as to why you should spend your time and efforts in another direction.”
“I was picking a fight, I wanted it against Daniel Cormier. I had taken a bump, I’d lost a match. Daniel was red hot and coming up. Daniel’s opponent falls through, who I think was supposed to be Rashad Evans. Daniel doesn’t have a dance partner, Chael’s gonna step up like the hero that he is and save the day and [my friend and graphic designer] Ross wouldn’t make a poster.”
“He levels with me,” Sonnen continued. “And he says ‘Chael, I’m not going to do it, I don’t want to see you fight Daniel Cormier.’ And this was one of those moments where you gotta stand back and go ‘Oh. I thought they’d always want to see me. I thought this shtick was rinse and repeat. I thought I could come back and do it again and again. I didn’t think this day would ever come.’ And he was letting me know ‘Daniel Cormier will hurt you, I don’t want to see you get hurt and I’m not going to participate. And I’m not going to make a poster.’”
“The talk of going up to 185 pounds is very compelling if you have a man who is invincible. If you have an invincible person who is cleaning out their division and they’re so good they’re going to handicap it ... if you’re gonna handicap it and spot the opponent and do an advantage, you gotta be invincible. If Khabib announced that he was coming back and he’d do it at 170, 185? Just the 185 before the opponent, we got headline news.”
“Conor can’t just go up to 185,” Sonnen concluded. “We want to see you win a fight at your weight class. We’re not sure you can beat these guys. You want to stop at 170, that’s pretty interesting. Let’s grab Masvidal, things aren’t going just swimmingly in his career, let’s get you guys together.”
“There’s a level of proof you need, but if you have the arrogance to believe you can move up to 185 pounds and people are going to come along just because you’re going to be ballooned up and somehow that’s going to be interesting ... I gotta tell you about that time I tried to fight Daniel Cormier and I got a real hard talk. And I’m thinking it’s maybe time we sit down and we have that same talk.”