Chael Sonnen's uspension from the California State Athletic Commission expired this week. As soon as he was clear to fight again, the 34-year-old was back to his ways — calling out fighters and injecting himself into the fray as soon as possible, seemingly making up for lost time.
But while he has been callous and combative in other interviews, it was a more genuine, less venomous Sonnen who answered reporter Megan Olivi's questions.
Megan Olivi: "What have you been doing in your time off?
Chael Sonnen: "Everybody wants to know what old Chael's been doing. I do what I damn well please, that's what I've been doing."
On Brazilian fighter
"You know, I don't think I have a distaste for Brazilian fighters. Here's what I have a distaste for: I have a distaste for cowards, and the entire UFC locker room is plagued with them."
"Let's take it back to a fight I had with Anderson Silva. Everybody in the back wants to bow to him, get their autograph with him, take photographs with him, and I don't understand it. If you want to be a fighter, you need to be in this for one reason, and that's twelve pounds of gold.
"If you're here shake a fellow fighter's hand and get an autograph with him, than you're just a coward and a bully. So I had to call out Anderson; not necessarily because I don't like Anderson, but more to show everybody else in the back to quit being chicken."
On Wanderlei Silva
"Wanderlei was never going to fight me. In a million years that fight was never going to happen. I get it. He goes out and says stuff – I totally understand — but if they sent him a contract, he's not going to sign it. I never took Wanderlei seriously.
"I also don't want to disparage Wanderlei. You're never done with this business, but at some point, this business will be done with you. I think that's a hard spot; it's a spot that we're all going to have to face, and he's in it now.
"I don't think we should do anything but remember the high points of Wanderlei's career. I hope that he can look back and be proud of the contributions that he made — not just to this company, but to the entire industry. When all of our time finally comes, we can only be so lucky to have all of the memories that he has, so good for Wanderlei."
On Brian Stann
"It's a lot harder fight than I thought I was going to have. I didn't think I was going to have the #6 guy in the world right out of the gate."
"I was trying to get an easy one. I was trying to get Wanderlei or Anderson or "Bigfoot" or just some Silva in general would have been really nice. When I saw that that was starting to get less likely, I called out `The Karate Kid.' They've thwarted my plans here, and now I've got to go and do a real match.
"That's a really hard match, and that's a really great guy. We have to meet up at some point; we're ranked very close to each other. That fight is going to happen at some point whether I want to do it or not."
"I wasn't ready for a Brian Stann style fight; I was ready to take on a Wanderlei or a Machida or something like that. I'll need to sit down and reevaluate and up the intensity, that's for sure.
"He's doing such a good job. Rewind to his match with Chris Leben. I really would have lost whatever they would let me bet; I would have lost it all. I thought Leben would beat him.
"I think Stann's an awesome guy. I didn't think he could get by Leben. Nobody has dominated Chris Leben like that — ever — in his entire career. That was kind of like an "Oh Wow" moment when I saw that in my living room. That was a special performance.
"Then they gave him a really easy fight after that, and he went out and did some more great things. Even an easy fight, you've still got to go do the fight, and he did. He's really good."
On middleweight title shot implications
"Yeah, I think that's what they'll do, but you never know. You never really know. There's good match-ups and good guys out there, so we're certainly not guaranteed one. I don't know which direction they're going to go, and I'm not going to complain about it either way. Brian Stann is ready for a title shot now. I'm ready for a title shot now, so we'll see."
On no Stann fight trash talk
"I wouldn't count on that."
On whether Stann trash talk may alienate Stann fans
"Well, any statement's true if you throw the word may in there. We may be doing this interview from Mars right now. We may not wake up. Anything is true if you include the word may."
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For his part, NostraStannamus predicted the kinder, gentler, Sonnen
"I thought for sure I'd be fighting Mark Munoz, and that wasn't the case," Stann said. "It was just a few days later when the UFC came calling and said, 'You're fighting Chael Sonnen.' It's just one of those situations. You want to be the best, you've got to fight the best."
"I know Chael; he's just not going to (trash talk). I know there's respect there."
"If he chooses to do it, honestly, I just don't take it personally – the same way when I fought Chris Leben, and he said I couldn't punch my way out of a paper bag. Fighters have to sell fights."
"If I get wrapped up in the trash talk, I'm not focusing on the technical skills that I need to win the actual fight. So I kind of submerse myself in Albuquerque and just don't really care. I have so many coaches and great training partners around me that I don't really have time to pay attention to any of it."
"I don't know if Chael in his heart of hearts really believes what he's saying."
"Some people criticize me ... and think that I make some of the s--- up that I say, which is ridiculous. But the bottom line is, trust me, I've made every mistake there is to make out there.
"I've had to learn from them. If you look at my three losses in MMA, every one of them was nationally televised. So I've been humbled so many times in my life and I'm so thankful for each of those times because it keeps me so level-headed."
"A win over Chael shows what the result of very hard, dedicated focused work is, and what the results are by surrounding yourself with great people. Because that's the real reason, from my family to my training partners and my coaches, I've been very fortunate who have a ton of knowledge who have supported me.
"That's what has saved my UFC career."
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Chael Sonnen faces. Brian Stann at UFC 136
October 8, 2011
Also on the card:
rubber match between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard
Jose Aldo vs Kenny Florian
UFC 136 coincides with a two day UFC Fan Expo to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
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