For 30 minutes, Chael Sonnen spoke solemnly, seriously about the suspended state of his career and his attempts to revive it. But when the topic switched to the current state of MMA, Sonnen seemingly flipped a switch and became the soundbyte machine we've come to expect.
Appearing on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, the UFC middleweight took aim at the weight division directly above his. While praising the recently crowned UFC light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones, he blasted the rest of the weight class' contenders for what he sees as their unwillingness to face him.
"He brings more to the table than just being the world champion," he told host Ariel Helwani. "He brings integrity, he brings class, he's good for the industry and he's good for the sport. And most importantly, you need to do what's good for sport. I get real frustrated with these guys who are just in it for themselves.
"But listen, Ariel, Jon Jones is not the hot topic of 205 pounds," he continued. "The hot topic that everybody should be talking about is that he's been the champion for three weeks and not one coward at 205 has challenged him. Not one guy has called him out and said, 'I want to fight that guy.' If you're all scared of a 23-year-old kid, turn your gloves in, sign your pink slip and show yourself the door."
Sonnen further railed that even the man that will fight Jones, former champ Rashad Evans, showed hesitance about facing Jones. Evans and Jones at one time said they would not fight each other, citing their bond as teammates on the Greg Jackson fight team, but have since agreed to the bout. Sonnen said many mixed martial artists get caught up on the word "fight" when it should be stripped down to competition, the same as the type that college wrestlers face when jockeying for the starter's spot on a collegiate roster.
"The one guy they say gets to fight him comes out and says, 'I don't want to fight him.'" he said. "If you don't want to fight him, go. This is a business to become champion. All these guys want to tell everyone they're in the UFC, but they don't want to have to carry the heavy water. Challenge Jon Jones if you're at 205. But what do you expect from a weight class that allowed a karate guy [Lyoto Machida] to be champion."
Asked if he would fight Jones, he said, "I will fight any man God ever made, period."
Though Sonnen hopes to one day rematch Anderson Silva for another shot at the UFC middleweight championship, it's likely he has some work ahead of him before getting that opportunity. Among the obstacles in the way is re-licensing in Nevada, and he would likely have at least one match before being thrust into a title fight. By then, it's very possible that we could be preparing to see the long-awaited superfight between Silva and Georges St. Pierre.
Sonnen says St. Pierre will need a title shot in the weight class, as he expects Jake Shields to dethrone the long-reigning champ. Sonnen recently spent a week in California training with Shields and Team Cesar Gracie, and came away amazed at Shields' intense work ethic.
"GSP is going to need the shot," he said. "GSP is going to lose his welterweight championship in T-minus 20 days to Jake Shields. So I hope GSP does get the shot. It's going to be the only way he'll get a championship, because he's not going to have one after Jake Shields is in that weight."
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