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Chael Sonnen's new philosophy: 'I don't always chase titles around'

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Esther Lin

When Chael Sonnen was in the midst of receiving UFC title shots in multiple weight classes, he noted that if he wasn't going after a championship, there was no point pursuing a career in mixed martial arts.

Sonnen went 0-3 in those championship challenges. And now the Oregonian says titles are no longer his primary focus.

"I don't always chase titles around," Sonnen said on a Monday UFC media teleconference. "I want to fight Jon Jones, he just happens to have the title. I want to fight Anderson Silva, he just happens to have the belt."

The 36-year old Sonnen (27-13-1) looks to rebound from back-to-back losses to Silva and Jones when he meets former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (21-7) in the main event of UFC Fight Night at Boston's TD Garden.

There were only hints Monday of the bombastic trash talk which has marked Sonnen's interviews over the past several years. He didn't have much negative to say about Rua, and even went out of his way to pay a roundabout compliment to Brazilian fighters.

Asked about his past words about Brazilians, Sonnen said "I wouldn't poke fun at someone if they were weak. I wouldn't bully somebody. The fact those guys have a lot of belts and a lot of history, a lot of good wins behind them is why they're a target. Same reason I pick opponents and go after champions, same as anybody else. I'm not going to sidestep anybody, I'm not going to back down from anybody at any weight and most importantly I'm not going to pick on a guy who is weaker."

That said, in the process of pumping up Rua, Sonnen took what could be construed as a shot at Silva's antics during his middleweight title loss to Chris Weidman.

"I will be going straight ahead, and he will be too," Sonnen said. "Not only is that how we fight, I can speak for him as well, we both have our skills and we're going to bring our skills. But in addition, we're main event. And you can't play around when you're in the main event."

Meanwhile, Sonnen, who will return to middleweight after this fight, underwent a big change for this training camp, shifting his base of operations to the Reign Training Center in Orange County, Calif., home of the likes of Mark Munoz.

"I always here that everything's better when people change camps and blah blah blah," Sonnen said. "Historically it's not true, when a guy switches camps, he doesn't tend to do as well. It's a bit of an experiment. I worked very, very hard, I worked on a lot of new stuff ... I was very pleased with the work and the team, the coaches, the workouts, the facility, but it was still new. I was out of my comfort zone. I don't leave my house very often. I never leave unless i have to. I've been living in a hotel room for a month and a half in Irvine."