Chael Sonnen says UFC thwarted his attempts for "easy" Lyoto Machida fight, gave him "real fight" in Brian Stann
Jul 9, 2011 - 11:30:16 PM
By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Chael Sonnen is being targeted for a return to action this October in a bout against Brian Stann at UFC 136, and it's an opponent that Sonnen won't likely be taking pot-shots at as he's done for several other fighters on the UFC's roster.
In fact, it's a fight that Sonnen sees as a lot more difficult than he was hoping to get upon his return. In an interview with Heavy.com, Sonnen commented on the fight with Stann, as well as the previously rumored bout with Lyoto Machida.
"I don't want to move back to 205; I just wanted an easy fight, and I thought I could trick everybody into giving me one," said Sonnen. "I thought I had them all fooled into doing it, but they caught on and now I have to go do a real fight... It's a lot harder fight than I thought I was going to have. I didn't think I was going to have the #6 guy in the world right out of the gate.
"I was trying to get an easy one. I was trying to get Wanderlei or Anderson or 'Bigfoot' or just some Silva in general would have been really nice. When I saw that that was starting to get less likely, I called out 'The Karate Kid.' They've thwarted my plans here, and now I've got to go and do a real match. That's a really hard match, and that's a really great guy. We have to meet up at some point; we're ranked very close to each other. That fight is going to happen at some point whether I want to do it or not."
Much like when he fought Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 last February, Sonnen actually has some respect for his opponent in this fight. That seems like a major struggle for him, and it's rare to see him have anything positive to say about an opponent, but he said Sonnen impressed him this year, especially in his fight with Chris Leben.
"I wasn't ready for a Brian Stann style fight; I was ready to take on a Wanderlei or a Machida or something like that," Sonnen reiterated. "I'll need to sit down and reevaluate and up the intensity, that's for sure. He's doing such a good job. Rewind to his match with Chris Leben. I really would have lost whatever they would let me bet; I would have lost it all. I thought Leben would beat him.
"I think Stann's an awesome guy. I didn't think he could get by Leben. Nobody has dominated Chris Leben like that — ever — in his entire career. That was kind of like an 'Oh Wow' moment when I saw that in my living room. That was a special performance. Then they gave him a really easy fight after that, and he went out and did some more great things. Even an easy fight, you've still got to go do the fight, and he did. He's really good."
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Penick's Analysis: This is a very tough fight for Sonnen. Stann's got good hands, and has shown an ability to win fights from his back as well. With submissions still being an Achilles heel for Sonnen, a fighter like Stann that has decent submission skills can be a very dangerous opponent. Add to that his increased striking ability, and this is no easy one for the returning Sonnen, despite the performance he had against Anderson Silva last year.
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