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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Chael Sonnen's ability to garner a reaction with his words has raised his profile to heights unimaginable just a few short years ago. Due in large part to that talk, Sonnen will be featured on the UFC's second Fox event in a bout with Michael Bisping, with a potential rematch with Anderson Silva hanging in the balance for this summer.
Over the last couple of years, Sonnen hasn't left many subjects untouched, going after Silva, several Brazilian fighters, the concept of "cage fighting" itself, and much, much more. In an interview with Ben Fowlkes at MMAFighting.com, Sonnen this time touched on the topic of God's influence on sports, giving a very Sonnen-esque response to a completely different question.
"That would be a compliment," Sonnen said, when asked how he would feel being remembered more for his mouth than his in-cage accomplishments. "I wouldn't feel bad about that. ..You know, these guys want to talk about God. 'Oh, I want to thank God. I want to thank God.' Listen, I'm a God-fearing man, go to church every Sunday and have since I was a boy. But if I ever found out that God cared one way or another about a borderline illegal fist-fight on Saturday night, I would be so greatly disappointed that it would make rethink my entire belief system."
It was another in a long line of canned, pre-set comments that Sonnen has made, and he simply waits for an opening in which to say them. That's not to say he never has anything interesting to say, it just shows that it's something he works on and that it's not all of the top of his head. That's not necessarily a bad thing, either, especially when he's effective in his delivery.
Which lead to his next comments, this time against new UFC on Fox 2 opponent Bisping. Sonnen said he's a Bisping supporter, but gave him quite the backhanded compliment to go along with that.
"He certainly hasn't beaten anybody that's any good, rankings-wise," Sonnen said. "But Bisping, you can't take from him, because he wins. Regardless of the opponent, which he doesn't have a lot of say in, he gets his hand raised. That's undeniable... I'm not a naysayer on Bisping. I'm a supporter, and if he got a shot [at the title], I'd tune in to watch."
Of course, he'll attempt to stop him from getting that shot on Saturday night on national television, and if he can do just that he'll set up his own fight with Anderson Silva, regardless of his continued comments that the fight won't happen.
Penick's Analysis: Fowlkes' piece is an excellent piece attempting to examine the enigma that has become Chael Sonnen's persona. He's in a very different place in his career than he was even two years ago, and it's in large part to the interest he's garnered as a talker. His comments on God in sports was a pre-prepared comment that had nothing to do with the question asked, but it again made for a memorable statement and sound byte, which is what he's going for. It works, too, which is what makes it all the more effective more often than not. It doesn't mean everyone likes his comments, or that they appreciate the delivery of his previously prepared lines, but it has worked for enough fans to get him to where he is right now.
[Chael Sonnen art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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