Mailbag: Chael Sonnen's book is more of a therapy session and political rant than a tell-all

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

Chael Sonnen's book, "The Voice of Reason: A VIP Pass to Enlightenment," is not easily defined. It's for sure not a UFC book, and those looking for delicious backstage nuggets about Dana White or Anderson Silva are bound to be disappointed.

It's clearly not an autobiography, either, which Sonnen admits early in the book when he says he won't get into his family.

It's probably, as the UFC middleweight contender said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports, "a counseling session for the author."

You can read about his felony plea in an Oregon real estate deal that will prevent him from ever running for political office, as he once planned to do. In a chapter devoted to his loss to Silva in a middleweight championship bout at UFC 117 in 2010, Sonnen writes, "I've been shamed and disgraced. It doesn't matter that people knowledgeable of the inner workings of Oregon politics have ominously hinted that prosecuting me had nothing to do with one isolated, busted-ass-play of a real estate deal, but rather with taking out a young, charismatic conservative (i.e., me) by foul means when fair means failed."

He then goes on to define an election as "the process liberals trust when they win, but attack as unfair when they lose."

It's typical Sonnen in full character, hitting all of his familiar themes.

"As far as how I wanted it to come off, I wanted it to be a political book," Sonnen said. "I didn't want to get too into sports, UFC or biographical things. I really wanted it to be a political book and attempt to explain the government by explaining professional wrestling and the history of it, the politics of it, the absolute crap that John McCain pulled in the mid-90s. That's the very guy who was a couple of thousand votes short of being the president. That was my goal. That was my plan."

[Kevin Iole: Showman 'Filthy' Tom Lawlor is keeping next ring entrance a secret]

So, how did Sonnen pull it off? Well, it's probably best to ask him.

"I had this idea for this book for about 10 years," he said. "When I finally sat down and wrote it all out, what I thought would be this amazing manuscript turned out to be about 25 pages. I had nothing more to write, so when that happened, it gave me great opportunity to start going in all sorts of different areas."

And then, he does. You can read about his feelings toward social media. In short, he doesn't care much for it. He writes of Facebook: "Because of both hipster culture and Facebook culture, the human race is starting to resemble a school of hairy piranhas."


He talks about what he considers good walkout music for an MMA fight and lists his 10 (well, really, 11) favorite entrance songs. He explains why he loves President Nixon, explains what fighters mean by various things they say and gives his take on movies he likes.

If you like Sonnen – the character, not the man – you'll love the book. But if you take him too seriously and regard him the same way you might have regarded Abdullah the Butcher or The Iron Sheik, then prepare for your blood pressure to rise.

I got a kick out of it, even if I don't feel particularly enlightened.


I'm not sure what UFC president Dana White was trying to accomplish with this diatribe in which he criticized me and my former colleague, Dave Meltzer, for stories we wrote about the UFC's television ratings.

What White said about Meltzer leaving Yahoo! Sports was tasteless and out of bounds, but I'll deal with his comments on my story, not Meltzer's.

He was upset at me, apparently because I wrote that Shark Tank and CSI had more total viewers May 5 than UFC on Fox 3. Which was true. Shark Tank and CSI DID have more viewers than UFC on Fox 3.

But I also reported that UFC won its demographic and drew more people ages 18 to 49 than either of those shows, which is the point White made in his video. I also quoted UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta explaining the drop in average rating over the three shows.

Finally, I would have quoted White, and not Fertitta, except for one small problem: I called White seeking to interview him for the piece on the ratings and he failed to return my call. After waiting two days, I contacted Fertitta and interviewed him. I talked to the owner of the company, not some junior assistant in the janitorial department.

Jon Jones will defend the UFC light heavyweight belt Sept. 1 in Las Vegas against Dan Henderson. If Jones wins that bout, it's hard to see who could possibly challenge him in the division. Jones may have to tread water until a worthy challenger arises.

White has had a long-running dislike for Josh Barnett, a former UFC heavyweight champion who on Saturday fights Daniel Cormier in San Jose, Calif., for the Strikeforce Grand Prix title. But Barnett has long been one of the best heavyweights in the world. Here's hoping that if Barnett wins, he gets another shot in the UFC, because fights between him and a number of UFC heavyweights would be outstanding.


Many reasons for UFC ratings decline

There are a couple of factors that have caused the rating decline that were not mentioned in your article. A) You must weigh the strength of the card. Of course, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos for the heavyweight title are going to draw more viewers than Phil Davis and Rashad Evans. B) The Nate Diaz-Jim Miller card had a bunch of no-name fighters on it. Very talented, but lack of star power. Then you compare that card to a Floyd Mayweather fight? He's by far the biggest name in boxing. Honestly, I'm not sure most people could name any other boxers outside of Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather. The UFC front office is aware of these things, which is why Fertitta isn’t worried about it. Give it time.
Zachary Deese

Zach, I am aware of that. I wasn't comparing the UFC on Fox 3 card to the Mayweather fight. I just questioned the wisdom of going head-to-head with either Pacquiao or Mayweather. But I'm not in the sky-is-falling camp, either. It's a trend UFC officials need to be concerned with, and Fertitta said they are. It doesn't mean, though, that MMA is about to die out. I never suggested that in my piece.

If Fox promoted the fights like the UFC promotes its pay-per-view bouts, there would be many more viewers. I am an avid MMA fan and I just found out earlier the day of the fight that it was actually on Fox. If there was more promotion like Fox does for the other sports it broadcasts, this sport will surpass the amount of viewers the NFL or any other sport brings in. In a few years, this sport will be the largest in the world. Remember that anyone, at anytime, at any place in the world, can fight. The NFL and baseball are just for some. MMA fighting occurs in almost every nation.
Kevin Appleton

Promotion was clearly a part of it. For the November fight that was the debut on Fox, there was a massive amount of promotion of the card on NFL games. White himself was heavily involved in the promotion and he clearly helps bring an audience. But White has taken on so many tasks, he's not available to promote as much and he wasn't as ubiquitous for the UFC on Fox 3 card as he was for UFC on Fox 1. His absence in the promotion can't be understated, either. But the largest reason for the decline from 1 to 3 was the significance of the card.


"Initially, I wasn't the most thrilled about it, but it is what it is. I'm cool with it. Now that I accepted that it's going down, I'm looking forward to the challenge." – Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, to MMA Weekly, on meeting Josh Thomson for a third time.

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