Sonnen: My dream fight? Cody McKenzie, no, it’s Wand!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In a recent piece for SI/CNN, Jeff Wagenheim relates a moment in a recent interview with Chael Sonnen, in which Wagenheim’s 10-year-old son got to ask Chael Sonnen a question. Son and father were on the way to a bluegrass festival with a work detour through Boston.

It is pure Chael.

“OK,” Aaron said a bit shyly, looking down at his nearly empty lemonade bottle. Then he looked up at Chael and said, “OK, if weight was not an issue, and you could choose anyone, who would you want to fight?”

Sonnen leaned toward my boy and smiled. “I would want to fight the smallest guy with the worst record in the largest venue for the biggest paycheck,” he said, eyes dancing. He was speaking slowly and deliberately in order to make sure every word was heard and understood. In other words, he was doing what he always does: connecting with his audience. “I would need a second to figure out who that fighter is. I would imagine it’s Cody McKenzie.” Chael sat back, then leaned forward again. “No, I know who it is. The worst guy under contract with the UFC is clearly Wanderlei. Wanderlei Silva, there’s your answer.”

Aaron stared ahead, blankly. I imagined that he was thinking, “Is that plastic figure I have in my room of Wanderlei Silva or Anderson Silva?”

Sonnen had a different idea of what was going through my boy’s head. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “You’re thinking, ‘What about CroCop?’ And you’re right: CroCop was terrible. But I would probably fight Wanderlei.”

I am not sure my kid knows who Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic is. But he was satisfied by the answer. He enjoyed it a lot, in fact, judging by the smile.

But Sonnen wasn’t finished with him. He looked down by Aaron’s feet, where the boy’s black fiddle case sat. Becasue of the oppressive heat, we didn’t dare leave the instrument in the car, with the tent and other camping supplies. “Now let me ask you a question,” said Chael. “Can you play ‘The Orange Blossom Special’?”

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Chael Sonnen fights Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen on FOX Sports 1 on Saturday night.