Sonnen, the former UFC fighter and current ESPN analyst, doesn't think fans minded Cormier's wrestling-heavy strategy. They just wanted Silva to beat him in spectacular fashion, "The American Gangster" told MMA Fighting.
"That's a misunderstanding," said Sonnen, whose grappling promotion Submission Underground debuts Sunday on FloCombat.com from Portland. "The fans didn't care what Daniel did. The fans wanted to see Daniel get knocked out. And they knew that was not going to happen. They had no problem with the way he fought. They just wanted him to lose. That's all that happened there. Brock [Lesnar] had the same game plan and they were happy as could be, because they wanted Brock to win."
Cormier, the UFC light heavyweight champion, got booed lustily in the lead up to what would have been a fight with Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 200 last Saturday. Three days out from the event, though, Jones was yanked from the card due to a failed USADA drug test. Silva stepped in on about 36 hours notice.
It seemed like at the time that things turned for Cormier, that fans were behind him after an emotional, rollercoaster week in Las Vegas. That turned out to not be the case.
"The biggest thing with DC is he wants to be liked and you've got good guys and you've got bad guys," Sonnen said. "DC is neither. He's a great guy. Daniel is truly in a class of his own. If you interact or you hang out around town with Daniel Cormier, he treats everybody really well. He's a great human being. And he wants people to see that and that seems to be the turn off, in my opinion."
Sonnen has his own experience with Silva. He took "The Spider" down repeatedly and almost took the UFC middleweight title from him in 2010 before getting caught in a fifth-round triangle choke submission. Sonnen also had success against Silva in a 2012 rematch before being finished by TKO in the second round.
The subtraction of Jones and addition of Silva to the card, Sonnen believes, did not end up affecting the pay-per-view buyrate in a negative way.
"I'm very confident," Sonnen said. "I don't know those numbers yet, I just know the reaction myself when Anderson came in. I loved the parity, I loved the excitement. I saw the buzz around the whole place. I don't think they lost a step there. In some respects, maybe they would have gained. You would never know. It's all hypothetical. There's no way to tell."
The good news is that Cormier got paid, even if it might not have been as much as he would have against Jones in the main event. The fan reaction to "DC" is a different story. That's something that seems to be stuck. Though, Sonnen does give Cormier a bit of a recommendation.
"I would go the other way with it," Sonnen said. "I don't know why Daniel would explain his performance because he's got a building booing him. I would have held the belt up and told them all to shove it up their ass and walked out."