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Pulling a Tyson

July 11, 2010

It’s not really a secret in the fight world that most of the pre-fight trash talking that goes on before a bout is just hot air — cats are just trying to make it seem like they don’t like each other so that people will be more intrigued by an event in which they try to rip each others’ heads off (with the notable exception of Rashad and Rampage).  That’s why I think Chael Sonnen is so entertaining.  He strikes me as a pretty smart guy as far as cagefighters go, so I’m not really surprised that he’s been able to conjure up some sort of feud with Anderson Silva prior to their bout at UFC 117 next month.

Honestly, what can you say about fighting Anderson Silva?  The guy beats the hell out of everybody he fights if he’s going for the knockout (and it’s pretty boring when he isn’t), he doesn’t really talk a whole lot of trash, and he’s basically been unchallenged in the middleweight division since he joined the UFC.  Sonnen has been thus been left to essentially invent things to talk trash about, including an assertion that Silva doesn’t want to fight him, a claim that Vitor Belfort is a lot “tougher” than Silva, and saying that Silva’s “15 minutes” are up.  That’s all pretty standard fare, as I suspect Sonnen realized.  So what did he do next?  He decided to go after Silva’s buddies:

After recently questioning the legitimacy behind Silva’s BJJ black belt, which was awarded to him by the Nogueira brothers, Sonnen stated at the UFC 115 Q&A that, “A black belt under the Nogueiras is saying, like, ‘I got a free toy in my Happy Meal.’ I don’t really understand what the big deal is. One of ’em’s a punching bag, and the other one I just ignore; he’s really irrelevant.”

Priceless.  Contending that a black belt under the Nogueiras is worthless because the the brothers aren’t good mixed martial artists is like saying Dwight Howard’s low-post game is no good because Stan Van Gundy isn’t good at basketball.  Sonnen knows that — just because Royler Gracie isn’t a good cagefighter doesn’t mean he’s not one of the best BJJ practitioners in the world.  It’s not like the Nogueiras gave Silva a black belt in MMA.  But Sonnen had to come up with something original, something that would make people look past the fact that Sonnen doesn’t really have anything special to his game — he is really good, but he’s still just a wrestler — and Silva has beaten a whole lot of cats who possessed the same skills he has.

So he went after the Nogueiras, neither of whom are in his division and neither of whom he will probably ever fight.  It’s a good move, really: if enough people are willing to believe that maybe Silva’s not as good off his back as his black belt would suggest, then maybe they’re willing to believe that a good wrestler like Sonnen can get takedowns and beat him up in his guard.  And maybe that many more people will be willing to spend $45 to see if it’s actual possible to do that to Silva.  Whether that factors into how big Sonnen’s payday will be, I have no idea, but you can’t say that he’s not a good promoter.  Hell, I just told you all this, and it still makes me want to see the fight more than I otherwise would.  Demian Maia didn’t say anything before that fight, and I didn’t order it.  I guess we’ll see if that changes this time.

P.S. Rashad doesn’t want this fight.  I think he knows Machida would kick his ass again — he can’t get close enough to Machida to punch him and it’s pretty much impossible to take The Karate Kid down.  He’d have to develop some sort of kicking prowess — like, a serious kicking prowess that you’d have to have been practicing since you were born — to even have a chance with Machida.  I think he’s praying that Dana sets up a Rampage v. Machida fight sometime this fall so he can wait on Shogun to get healthy.  Otherwise, he’s not really in the title picture if getting past Machida is a stepping stone on his path.

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