Sonnen trashes Silva before UFC weigh-ins
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Chael Sonnen had a day off on Friday from selling real estate, but the would-be politician was still selling.
Sonnen was the guest at the UFC Fight Club question-and-answer session at General Motors Place, about two hours before the weigh-in for UFC 115, and he was hard-selling his bout on Aug. 7 with middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Sonnen, who became the No. 1 contender with an upset victory over Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 in Las Vegas, continued his verbal assault on the champion with a series of one-liners tweaking Silva in response from questions from a largely adoring fan base.
Silva is No. 2 in the Yahoo! Sports rankings and is regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world by UFC president Dana White. Sonnen, who works as a real estate agent in addition to his fighting career, will be a significant underdog when he meets Silva in the main event of UFC 117 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. But he was talking like anything but an underdog on Friday.
"This isn't going to be a war," Sonnen said of the bout with Silva. "It's going to be a one-sided pounding and I'm swinging the hammer."
Silva is coming off an unsatisfying performance in a win over Demian Maia at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was the third time in his last four fights that fans booed his performance and media raked him over the coals.
It went to a greater level after UFC 112, a fight in which Silva at one point jumped behind massive referee "Big" Dan Miragliotta so Maia couldn't hit him. A seething White opened the post-fight news conference that night by saying through clenched teeth, "I'm ready to answer your questions about what a disgrace the main event was."
Sonnen on Friday intimated that White was planning to cut Silva after that showing and said he begged the UFC president not to do so. "Dana was going to give him his walking papers and I begged him to keep him around," Sonnen said.
White told Yahoo! Sports several days after UFC 112 that he was angry enough to cut Silva, but wasn't contractually able to do so.
Sonnen didn't let facts get in the way of his assault on Silva. He blasted Silva's manager, Ed Soares, deriding him as "the world's most famous interpreter." He belittled the black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu that Silva earned under the Nogueira brothers, Antonio Rodrigo and Antonio Rogerio.
Asked about how the fight would go, Sonnen said he had some ideas but wasn't sure. "I can only attempt to speculate," he said of how Silva would attack him. "He has a black belt from the Nogueira brothers, but to me, a black belt from the Nogueira brothers is like a free toy in a Happy Meal. One [of the Nogueira brothers] is a punching bag. The other, I just ignore."
He had been making similar attacks about Silva and Soares on Twitter, but said on stage Friday that he does not have a Twitter account. However, he told Yahoo! Sports in February that he did, as he also does at the 45:40 mark of a video interview with reporter Ariel Helwani.
Despite the accuracy or truthfulness of his words, he's added spice to a bout that could use the boost.
Sonnen noted that he would probably lose a striking battle against Silva, but said he doesn't plan to stand toe-to-toe in front of the champion.
An Olympic alternate and a two-time NCAA national wrestling champion, Sonnen boasted Friday that he'll be able to put Silva onto his back.
"If Chael Sonnen can not get it to the floor, Chael Sonnen gets his ass kicked," Sonnen said. "He's got to keep it up and I have to throw him down. I have two national championship plaques on my wall that say I can throw him down."
All 22 fighters on the UFC 115 card made weight on Friday, though several had to remove their shorts and step on the scale a second time after coming in a pound over.
Main event fighters Rich Franklin and Chuck Liddell each weighed the light heavyweight limit of 205 pounds and looked in good shape.
Jesse Lennox 170 vs. Mike Pyle 170
Claude Patrick 170 vs. Ricardo Funch 170
Peter Sobotta 171 vs. James Wilks 170
David Loiseau 185 vs. Mario Miranda 186
Matt Wiman 156 vs. Mac Danzig 156
Evan Dunham 155 vs. Tyson Griffin 154
Martin Kampmann 170 vs. Paulo Thiago 170
Rory MacDonald 170 vs. Carlos Condit 170
Gilbert Yvel 242 vs. Ben Rothwell 264
Pat Barry 248 vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic 235
Rich Franklin 205 vs. Chuck Liddell 205