I love Chael Sonnen. He is tremendous. He brings something to mixed martial arts that is beyond value. I discussed what that is recently in a piece about Josh Koscheck. At the time, I pontificated that Koscheck could be MMA's top "heel." However, with his latest volley of vitriol, Sonnen has cemented his position as the best smack-talker in mixed martial arts.
Drama, people. It's good for all sports. The Jets and Patriots. Lebron James and Cleveland. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. If there is deemed to be true conflict between parties, we the viewers are more intrigued. The second I saw the video in which Wanderlei Silva claimed to have "killed" Sonnen in training, I knew fireworks were imminent. Sonnen did not disappoint. Via Twitter, the No. 2 ranked middleweight in the world launched into what can only be described as an epic promo, claiming that Wandy had "pissed off a gangster" and that he went easy on Silva while training so that his "new face wouldn't fall off." Mike Tyson would scoff at the over-the-top nature of this diatribe.
Our friends over at Bloody Elbow chronicled some of the highlights. This was my personal favorite:
Take your comebacks, write them down on a sheet of paper. Roll it up tight, soak it in water, freeze it overnight, then jam it up your ass.
Doing his best to channel Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sonnen exemplifies what MMA can gain from drawing on professional wrestling. Which brings me to the crux of matter: I don't want to hear anything about Chael Sonnen being a racist. He did not utter one racial slur in his tirade. The one quote that people seem to have issue with is Sonnen claiming Silva would be "sellin' barbecued monkey on the street in Manaus" if he wasn't related to UFC booker Joe Silva. The statement is ludicrous for many reasons. In series of tweets where Chael Sonnen calls himself a gangster and compares Wandy to Tammy Faye Bakker, are we to believe that he truly believes everything he is spewing? I can't be the only one who immediately thought of Roddy Piper hitting Jimmy Snuka with a coconut and jamming a banana down his throat.
Do we believe Piper hates Fijians? Do we believe Chris Rock wants to be in the Klu Klux Klan? He has claimed as much in his stand-up act. Do we believe that Frank Mir wants Brock Lesnar to die in the cage? I don't. If no slurs fly, I say anything goes. Sell the conflict, sell the fight, sell yourself. People get so wrapped up in their detest for tactics used by professional wrestling, they fail to see the big picture. If the NFL can borrow from a camera technique made popular in the XFL, no one should be above borrowing from another promotion.
Chael Sonnen is a godsend to mixed martial arts. His ability to draw attention to himself with the spoken word is unmatched and my interest level in seeing him compete could not be higher. We can choose to acknowledge that his sport can benefit from the drama of pro wrestling or we can continue to fight it. I say, let the guys who can work the microphone do their worst.