Chael Sonnen appeared on Gareth Davies' World MMA Podcast recently, and broke down the Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillishaw ("just needs to go out there and get lucky") and Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson ("one tough son of a b----") main events Saturday night at UFC 173.
He also talked about the psychology of fighting.
"I don't think that you can psychologically do anything to an opponent," said Sonnen mused on the subject with me. "I know it gets talked about, but, for me, that stuff's for the playground when you're a little kid. In the playground, whoever talks the toughest is deemed to be the toughest.
"Think back to your days growing up and the toughest kid in school and it's likely they had the biggest mouth. Now ask yourself, who did you ever see them fight? The answer is, nobody. You never saw him fight. People use the word 'scared' a lot in fighting sports. He's scared, she's scared. Truth is, they probably are scared of certain things, but what's that got to do with anything? If you're a child on the playground and you can prove the other kid is scared, and you get all your classmates to believe the same, nothing else needs to be done. You somehow win without doing anything.
"As a professional athlete, I can tell you I feel every single emotion and not one of them ever helped me in a fist-fight before. And not one of them has ever hurt me in a fist-fight, either. The only thing that has helped me is my skills and the only thing that hurt me is my opponent's skills.
"People believe there is some sort of psychological warfare, but that is never thought out. There is a psychology in as far as picking these fights and navigating your way to the top. That is a very tricky thing to do in any sport. The blueprint for it is out there, but people don't really understand it. It's like any technique.
"When somebody masters it, they don't go and show the rest of the world how to do it. The rest of the world has got to watch the videos, break it down and figure it out on their own. I hear people talk about what I do all the time. There are articles written, there are people talking on TV about it. None of them have ever got it right. They don't understand the psychology behind what I do. I'm not about to be overtaken any time soon.
"I don't think you can teach it. Some people get it and some people don't. If I could encourage anybody by giving them one piece of advice it would be 'to be yourself'. If I could give them two pieces of advice I'd say, 'Be yourself, but with the volume cranked up'. Whether you're a nice guy, mean guy, aggressive guy or a passive guy, be yourself but turn it up. Let people know who you are.
"Don't miss those opportunities. If you could just follow those two pieces of advice, it will change people's perception of you and can get you notoriety. You'll be noticed. Ultimately, this is a popularity contest. I don't care if you're talking football, basketball, soccer, whoever the crowd likes the most will make the most. It's not about who beats who or who can dribble faster or score more goals. It's about who the crowd likes the most. Popularity is a big deal.
"There's a fine line. If you can talk the talk, but can't walk the walk, you're going to look like a fool. That's the risk. But with great risk comes great reward."