On Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the mixed martial arts world witnessed as the great Chael Sonnen made his final push for championship gold. Unfortunately for the light heavyweight challenger, the night was as bitter as the New Jersey air. As fate would have it Sonnen fell victim to one of the greatest light heavyweight champions of all time, Jon Jones.
He never made it out of the first round, thus ending his storied war of words with Jones quickly, but not painlessly. So where does the larger than life catchweight go from here? Was UFC 159 the last time we’ll see the persona known as Chael P. Sonnen? And who got the last laugh?
At the moment Sonnen will be faced with many decisions, but nothing more important than whether or not to end his WWE-esque schtick. In all fairness, his ability to trash talk increased the attention surrounding his two title fights with Anderson Silva and bought him a third against Jon Jones. Yet, much like an overplayed TV plotline the pro-wrestling antics might have worn out their welcome with mixed martial arts fans. In all reality, it’s time for Sonnen to try something new in the future or take his one-man show onto the small screen. Either way, it’s time for Chael P. Sonnen to just be Chael Sonnen.
In saying all that I’d be the first to admit that during his reign as trash-talking king, I was amused to say the least. The pageantry and intrigue when one Chael P. Sonnen hit the microphone was beyond what any mixed martial artist had done before him.
To be fair, it wasn’t like Sonnen didn’t earn two out of his three title shots. While in the middleweight division Sonnen constantly earned victories against top-10 opponents. Those victories led to two infamous title shots against arguably the greatest mixed martial artist ever, Anderson Silva. No one’s arguing those title shots, but it’s the bout against current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones on Saturday that has many in the MMA community crying foul.
Maybe they’re right in their objections, but does that take away from what Sonnen was able to do in marketing and promoting this fight? Sure, we could say that everyone and their crazy Aunt Patty knew that Jones would win on Saturday. We could say that Sonnen had no business being in the same ring as Jon Jones.
And again, maybe he didn’t belong there. The bottom line is you still watched that fight and wondered, “What if?” Perhaps that’s all Sonnen wanted to do. By creating a little doubt in your mind he was able to believe it in his.
While many may still argue the fact that Sonnen never deserved that fight in the first place, it’s hard to argue with the fact that he created a lot of attention around it. It’s funny to hear all those who, after the fight, reiterated their foresight regarding a Jones victory. Yet, even though you “knew” the outcome beforehand, you still felt the need to buy the pay-per-view anyway, and watch an already decided bout. Tell me this, who’s laughing now?
Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.