Chael Sonnen is one of the biggest personalities in mixed martial arts (MMA) history.
As outspoken as anyone during his era and time as a top Middleweight contender, Sonnen had the skills to back up his talk. The West Linn, Oregon native often let his opponents know he was coming to dominate with his wrestling, it was just a matter of if it could be stopped.
Sonnen inevitably reached his first career Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title shot in 2010 opposite Anderson Silva, who quickly became an epic rival. Unfortunately for “The American Gangster,” his seemingly impossible efforts were stifled by a late fifth-round Hail Mary triangle armbar submission that forced the tap for Silva. Their rematch was the most anticipated fight in MMA history at the time, and according to Sonnen, was more lucrative than anyone could imagine.
“The most I ever made [to fight] was 8.8 [million] in one night. I made $8.8 million the second time I fought Anderson,” Sonnen said on Flagrant. “I know I just became a scumbag to the audience, but they used to post this publicly. This was in 2012, and I will tell you, those numbers are bigger than people think that they are. I’ve always wondered what [Anderson] got, he had to get more. He had to, he had to.
“I heard rumors that he was $3.2 million or $3.1 million and I’ve tried to confirm that,” he continued. “But then he also told me a number that he thought we did in pay-per-views and it wasn’t the number we did in pay-per-views (laughs). So, I don’t know how this whole thing sat, there was just a time that I stopped [searching and talking about it].”
Part two of Silva versus Sonnen at UFC 148 picked right up where the challenger left off in the first fight. An instant takedown from the wrestler led Sonnen to an arguable 10-8 round one before succumbing to a knee to the body and punches for a Silva technical knockout.
For comparison’s sake, earlier this year (Jan. 2023) when now-former UFC Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, was embroiled in his contract negotiations, he claimed to have been offered “around $8 million.” UFC President, Dana White, said before Ngannou’s response that “The Predator” was offered the biggest contract for a Heavyweight in promotional history.