“The Bad Guy” told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he believes Emelianenko’s reputation of pure martial artist and humble warrior is merely a public persona.
“I don’t know about the whole respect thing,” Sonnen said. “He seems like a perfectly nice guy, I don’t think I would want to take anything from him, but it’s a gimmick, right? All the guys are working a gimmick. He found his gimmick. He found a little something with the respect and the humbleness and looking like Dumpy Dwarf getting interviewed by his translator Snow White there.
“That’s good for some people. It doesn’t do a damn thing for me. I’m not impressed by it, I don’t fall for it. At the end of the day, behind that little frumpy look on his face and the little doughy bald head is a dirty, rotten cage fighter just like me.”
Sonnen and Emelianenko will meet in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals later this year. Emelianenko defeated Frank Mir by knockout in just 48 seconds to earn the berth last month. Afterward, Sonnen and Emelianenko faced off in the cage as a prelude to what should be one of the biggest money fights in Bellator history.
The two men have never fought before, but Sonnen has criticized Emelianenko, regarded as perhaps the best heavyweight of all time, in multiple interviews going back years. Sonnen’s main point is that he believes that some of Emelianenko’s fights in Japan’s PRIDE promotion were fixed.
“You bring up his Japan record, I don’t give a damn about that, either,” Sonnen said. “Those fights were fixed over there. Does that mean they all were or all of his, I don’t even know why we go down that road. If you’ve got a promoter that’s fixing fights, the whole thing is tarnished and his whole thing is tarnished. It only counts what he did in North America and if he can get over on me, it’ll be the staple in his hat. Because he’s never fought anybody like me before.”
There’s no secret that Sonnen, with his wrestling pedigree, will be looking for takedowns against Emelianenko early and often. But “The American Gangster” wants to clarify something — he’s not too bad on the feet, either. Sonnen said he’s only been dropped once in his 21-year career and has never been outstruck.
“It’s very confusing to me where that lies,” Sonnen said of the perception he’s not a good striker. “And I will take anybody down that I can take down. And if I can’t, then I’ll beat them up on the feet.
“I hear all of these things, but I’ve never seen it. And I’ve gotta get in a fisticuffs with him, then we’ll do that, too.”
Sonnen, 41, said he didn’t consider a fight against Emelianenko, even though they were in the same bracket, until Emelianenko beat Mir. But the Oregon native is always willing to kick a hornet’s nest and take his verbal shots against legends — like Anderson Silva — that no one else is willing to trash talk.
In this case, Sonnen is going after Emelianenko, who is revered in MMA circles for his quiet, respectful demeanor. Sonnen thinks the whole thing is just a character.
“Man, you’re getting in a steel cage half naked looking to whip somebody’s ass,” Sonnen said. “You’re a scumbag and so am I. If you want to sell some t-shirts that way, have at it. You’ve got your style and I’ve got mine. But I’m not buying it and I don’t give a damn about it.”