Sonnen: I’ll leave MMA face down and embarrassed like everyone else
Bellator’s eight-man tournament to determine the new heavyweight champion begins on January 20 when Chael Sonnen fights Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. If Sonnen emerges a year later as the champ, it would be a perfect moment to retire at the age of 41. However, during the Bellator 192 media conference call, Sonnen said he doesn’t believe in going out on top.
“I definitely would not go anywhere else or use [winning the tournament] as a negotiation tool, I want to make that really clear,” said Sonnen, as transcribed by Mike Bohn for MMAjunkie. “I’m completely loyal to Bellator and would not even consider anything else. I’m a traditionalist and a fan first. I really believe that you’ve got to defend [the belt]. I don’t feel anybody should go out on top.
“Georges St-Pierre is one of them, but he gave them every chance in the world to beat him. He gave guys rematches, and some guys got three matches. He changed weight, he did everything he could do to get beat and pass that torch. He was just that damn good. And aside from him and Lennox Lewis, I can’t think of anyone that goes out on top. We all – all our careers end the same: Face down and embarrassed. And I think I’m going to follow suit on that. I don’t want to leave anything on the table.”
“I haven’t thought about it being taxing, but it is a first for me. It increases my anxiety. I lay in bed at night and try to work this match through. I’ve got some teammates I work with that are as big as ‘Rampage’ or bigger, and a lot of my techniques don’t work. I’ll do everything perfect and hit those guys and boom, I just get stopped because of the size. It’s a first for me. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the unknown in the process.
“I don’t totally know what to make about it. I have had a hard time in practice with some of the stuff that I’ve done and fortunately had those bodies to work with. I might have to go to a Plan B or a Plan C here. I don’t fully know what to make about it.”
“It would be my greatest accomplishment. I’m a tournament guy. That’s what I grew up doing, four or five guys a day. I love this tournament, I wish it was all in one night, that’s old-school. It’s something better to say than actually do. I couldn’t really see anybody in this tournament fighting three other guys in their tournament in one night. But that is the old-school and it sure would be fun. It’d be a huge accomplishment. I love tournaments. They’re super tough. I love fighting these big name guys.”
First Round Tournament Schedule:
Quinton Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir
Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Matt Mitrione vs. Roy Nelson
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Ryan Bader vs. Muhammed Lawal
SAP Center in San Jose, California
Quinton Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen winner
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir winner
Matt Mitrione vs. Roy Nelson winner
Ryan Bader vs. Muhammed Lawal
Tournament alternates have not been determined, but president Scott Coker said the potential pool includes Javy Ayala, Shane Carwin, Sergei Kharitonov, Cheick Kongo, Bobby Lashley, and Justin Wren.