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Chael Sonnen had a tough time dealing with loss to ‘absolutely terrible’ Tito Ortiz

The fix was not in, Chael Sonnen said. There was another more appropriate three-letter word to describe his fight with Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170 back in January.


“Oh, Tito is terrible,” Sonnen told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “Tito was absolutely terrible. I was in the fight with him and that fight ended and some people said it was a fixed fight, to use that term.

“When you fight so poorly that some people can’t even imagine you fought that poorly that it has to be fixed, that’s not good. On some hands, it’s funny we can sit here and laugh about it. But that’s how bad it was.”

Ortiz’s first-round submission victory over Sonnen looked odd, perhaps more to do with the participants’ advanced ages rather than any conspiracy theory. Sonnen had Ortiz in what looked like a good guillotine, but either let go or Ortiz escaped, depending on who you asked. Ortiz ended up getting Sonnen’s back — sort of — and locking in a choke that most people, Sonnen included, didn’t think he could get from that position.

Sonnen ended up tapping. And in the weeks since, he has had a hard time processing what actually happened. It was his Bellator debut and he had not fought for more than three years after a drug suspension and retirement. But “The American Gangster” sure expected more from himself than that.

“Tito sucks,” Sonnen said. “I mean, Tito is so bad. And when you lose to a guy, then you suck. That’s the way it works, man. I wouldn’t put that guy without putting myself down. Tito is the worst fighter I ever fought and that makes me the worst fighter. And I just didn’t know that about myself.”

Right after the fight, Sonnen said it dawned on him that he just didn’t have it that night and he somewhat knew what went wrong. Two days later, he was back in the gym, doing two-a-days to improve, he said.

Also right after the fight, though, Sonnen grew more befuddled by Ortiz and his actions. Ortiz, who was retiring after the bout, demanded Sonnen apologize for his pre-fight trash talk during the press conference. Sonnen just didn’t get it.

“When we got into the back and he was still a jerk about it, that confused me,” Sonnen said. “It’s like, Tito, you’re terrible. I’m the name that’s gonna move this company forward. You’ve gotta pass the torch.”

Another thing that sticks in Sonnen’s craw is that he believes he heard Ortiz verbally tap while he was in the guillotine and that’s why he says he let it go. Ortiz has denied tapping out or saying “tap” during the bout and referee John McCarthy said he did not hear anything like that.

Sonnen, who meets Wanderlei Silva in the main event of Bellator NYC on June 24 in New York, said he didn’t want to injure Ortiz by holding onto the choke if he was verbally tapping out. Ortiz has a history of neck injuries.

To further muddy the waters, Ortiz held on just a bit long on his choke of Sonnen after Sonnen tapped.

“I want to beat Tito that night, I don’t like Tito,” Sonnen said. “I don’t want Tito to have a bad life. I don’t want him to go on with a bad neck. I just don’t.

“You yelled ‘tap’ and I let go. I physically tapped and you didn’t let go. If that would have been my knee … or an arm or something, you really could have injured me.”

Sonnen said he went a little “crazy” after losing to Ortiz and has been trying to make up for it in the gym. A rematch with Ortiz doesn’t seem probable since Ortiz remains retired. But Sonnen was down to fight Fedor Emelianenko when Matt Mitrione couldn’t go last month. And he said he’ll be much closer to the “Bad Guy” of old when he meets Silva.

“When you go out there and step down, yeah you do some soul searching, because you don’t want it to happen again,” Sonnen said of the Ortiz loss. “It’s very embarrassing and it’s a let down, not just to you and your fans, but your coaches. My coaches put in a lot of time with me for very little thanks. I do feel like I owe it to them.”

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