Sonnen, always an open book, discussed a number of subjects including his great rivalry.
The brash ex-fighter also talked about potential “super fights” between Jon Jones and Israel Adesanya and Tyron Woodley and Adesanya – offering his thoughts on how they would go.
On what his favorite rivalry of his career was
“Anderson Silva definitely. Both of them. Part one and two was definitely a highlight for me. All the way down, press conferences like you mentioned, but the weigh-ins were packed, I mean, we were setting every record there was.
“We had the live gate record, we had the pay-per-view record, and that was just fun, that was just good solid fun. Also, the matches themselves were fairly competitive and I had a chance to win. He could beat me at any time, I could beat him on any night.
“It was just one of those things where you never knew what was gonna happen, but you wanted to make sure a lot of people were watching just in case something special happened. And I think something special did happen, but just maybe more happened for him. But that’s the way that goes.”
On which of his opponents took the pre-fight trash talk the most personally
“You had to put number one on the list was Tito Ortiz. And Tito was a weird one, only cause I knew him for 20 years, I beat him in college, he beat me in the pros, we’re one a piece, let’s just shake hands and walk away.
“But the fact that he won and was such a jerk about it was just baffling to me. I never really had to deal with a bad winner before. I dealt with sore losers, but I never dealt with a sore winner. So, that one was just odd and confusing, but I would have to say Tito. I mean, Tito has gone as far as to demand that I publicly apologize to him.
“And it’s like, Tito, the ass whooping I took in front of the world, that’s kind of the punishment for this, you don’t get a paycheck and an apology.”
On Israel Adesanya’s biggest key to marketability
“He understands this to the highest of levels. He is amongst the great entertainers in the sport, and the only person I could put him with would be MVP. And you gotta understand, you’ve got your in-ring action and then you’ve got your post-fight interview.
“Those are really the two aspects. The only other thing that you could be entertaining at is the walkout. But who could focus on the fight while being entertaining in the walkout? Answer, MVP and Israel Adesanya. I mean, Adesanya, the mere fact that he walked into Australia in front of 57,000 people and choreograph-danced his way to the ring, to then take on the baddest dude in the word, of which he stopped twice within seven minutes, and left there with the championship, and by the way, called out his next fight before he leaves.
“He leaves nothing on the table, he forgets nothing, he’s ready at all times. He’s a consummate professional. If you ever meet him, he’s also a very nice guy, and then when he competes, he’s a wild talent. I mean, everybody loves a winner, right? That’s kind of what a hype train is all about, and people are getting on board.”
On Tyron Woodley announcing for plans to move up to middleweight and fight Adesanya once he regains the welterweight title
“Okay, so this is going to surprise you. Now look, that fight’s not gonna happen. Woodley followed that callout up by saying there’s four fights I need to do at welterweight. Unless he wins all four, he’s not gonna bump up and get a shot to be the champ-champ if you will.
“But that’s actually a really hard fight for Adesanya. I mean, it really is. The hardest guy to fight is the guy one weight class below you. He’s just a little bit quicker than what you’re used to and he can go just a little bit longer because he’s a little bit lighter and he doesn’t get tired quite as fast.
“The hardest guy to fight is one weight underneath you. And I realize what people are gonna do, they’re all gonna dismiss Tyron, and go ahead, because the fight’s not gonna happen anyway. But if that fight happened, that’s a lot harder and a lot closer match than many might think.”
Why Tyron’s trash talk towards Adesanya seemed more aggressive
“Yeah, I agree with that. And so many fighters are missing the mark right now. It is so easy to get a headline. If you are a fighter and you are not in the headlines, you are doing something wrong. Most guys are saying, look, there’s no fights going on so there’s no fights to talk about.
“Okay, that’s true. But if everybody is doing that and everybody is taking their oars out of the water, now’s the time to strike, you can go up and get all the [headlines]. Tony Ferguson is the biggest star in sports over the last 10 days, and all he did was put his ass on a scale. But it was the only thing that happened.
“We’ve all been talking about it. We had no choice but to talk about it. It was a brilliant move, even with just a marketing standpoint – which, Tony had a lot of other reasons to do that – I’m just saying that was a very brilliant move. So, if you’re Tyron Woodley, I don’t think Tyron was out just having fun, but if he was just looking to just get attention, always go after Adesanya because Adesanya will always respond.
“Adesanya doesn’t look to the number one contenders. Don’t forget, Adesanya just fought Yoel Romero, who is not a number one contender, who is coming off a loss. That fight made no sense. He got a fight with Yoel cause he doesn’t like him and he told Dana that.
“He said, ‘hey, don’t punish me for my success, I got in this business cause there’s some guys that I want to fight, and if you’re telling me I don’t get to fight them now because I’ve done so well at fighting, that’s not what I’ve signed up for,’ and Dana goes, okay, you’re fighting Yoel Romero.
“So, my only point to you is, don’t think Adesanya is going to run and hide if you’re a lower name or you’re not likely to get in there with him. If you say his name, he will say your name back.”
Why Chael doesn’t see Tyron Woodley getting another title shot
“I think Woodley’s gonna have a very hard time getting that fight. The reports on Tyron Woodley, which they stun me because he’s such a nice guy and I can deal with him so well, is that he was hard for the office.
“That was always the knock on Tyron Woodley, you know, he didn’t wanna do fights, he said no too many times. If that’s true or even if that perception is true, it’s very hard for the office to then give you that kind of an opportunity and go, well, what happens if you win it and we gotta go back into this mess again.
“So, I think that Tyron is maybe gonna have to rebuild a couple of those relationships. I think with a couple of good wins it’s gonna be hard to deny him. It appears that Leon Edwards is being pushed to the side and he’s going after Colby Covington.
“I think anybody that wins between Tyron and Colby is not eligible for a title shot. Getting the title shot is different than being eligible, but I don’t think that anyone would argue if those two monsters went at it somebody came out, give them the chance.”
If Jon Jones vs. Israel Adesanya happens
“I think that fight is further out than it once was. Don’t forget what’s happened in the last 60 days, largely because of Dominick Reyes, but nobody could sell out an arena fighting Jon Jones.
“Jon Jones was the worst drawing champion in the organization. That wasn’t Jon’s fault, Jon did everything right. He was getting a little bit of the Roy Jones effect, where he was so good and everybody knew how that movie was going to end, so nobody wanted to buy a ticket to watch it.
“The reality is, now because of the competitiveness that Reyes showed with him, many people believe that Reyes won, myself included, that all of a sudden it did get a little bit more interesting. Now, Jon trying to stay away from Reyes and go over to Blachowicz showing that.
“I mean, those things work, those are playground rules, but playground rules don’t go away in the pros. And the point I’m trying to make is, Jon had nothing going on. He was talking about going up to heavyweight just so he could get somebody to watch him, he was talking about trying to bring Adesanya to light heavyweight just to get somebody to watch.
“All of a sudden, the world is different for Jon Jones. Jon now has two great fights between Jan Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes. Who’s he gonna fight next? I don’t know, but I can tell you with confidence, he’s gonna fight both of them.”
Why the beef between Jon and Adesanya could be similar to his own with Anderson Silva
“Oh, definitely. Yes, if that fight got signed and those guys were given a full media tour, yeah. And what’s so good about them, is Adesanya is absolutely sure he’s gonna beat Jon Jones and Jon Jones is absolutely sure he’s gonna beat Adesanya.
“And both of them, with their speak as well, it’s the same thing, neither one is conceding to big brother here. They’re both looking at it like, ‘hey, I’m the alpha in the room’. There is something very fun about that. And yeah, I think that it could be real fun. I think Adesanya will take it in any direction”
On Jon Jones and his persona after his latest incident with the law
“I think Jon Jones since his latest arrest, I mean, the mask is off, the world’s known he’s a scumbag for a while, but now that he’s finally in touch with just what a dirty guy he is and now he’s putting out interviews, he’s steering into it.
“Look, from a liveability and civility standpoint, okay, go ahead and question Jon Jones’ character. I’m speaking about from a marketing and promotional standpoint, he’s doing everything right. The gig is up, everybody knows. You were on TMZ in handcuffs crying about ‘I want to go home and be with my kids’.
“Dude, it’s two in the morning and you’re firing guns while shooting and running donuts in a parking lot drunk on tequila. Your time to be with your… are your kids even still up, you bum? The fact that he would be that level of a scumbag, just go with it, just be a scumbag.”
On who wins the battle of the words between Jones and Adesanya during their fight week if the fight ever comes together
“I gotta tell you, with all due respect, that you’re the first guy to say Jon was ever good on a mic. Jon doesn’t even know what day it is most of the time, Jones’ really is just looking for the next party.
“So, you’re literally the first person to ever say that you thought Jon spoke well. But I will tell you, Adesanya brings a fire. I mean, there’s a venom. He practices, he’s rehearsed. Jon Jones is not ready for press conferences. And a lot of guys see a dishonor in that, that you should just freestyle and answer the questions that are asked of you.
“Man, it is no different than any other job interview or any test I’ve ever gone to in my life. If I know it’s test day, I’m gonna study for the test. Adesanya studies for the test. He doesn’t answer the question asked of him, he waits until your mouth’s done moving and then he says whatever the hell he wants. Jon Jones answers questions. Good ones don’t answer questions, they handle questions.”
Why he think Israel Adesanya would beat Jon Jones
“Oh, forget it, Adesanya will whip his ass.”
“Do you think Thiago Santos beats Adesanya? Or do you think that Dominick Reyes beats Adesanya? I mean, these were really close matches for Jon Jones. I thought he lost both of them. On the 10-9 must system, I thought he lost to Santos too. I’m not bullish on that. I’m not even bullish on the Reyes one.
“Those were just my opinions. I think that ship has sailed. I think Jon’s tough, I don’t think he’s the greatest of all time. I think that’s Georges St-Pierre. But I do think that Jon Jones would have an argument to the toughest of all time. To watch his grit, to watch Jon Jones seeing everything, slip away, and he finds a way to get victory anyway, he finds a way to push through, Jon gets a lot of credit with me.
“I just think when you’re comparing him to Adesanya, Adesanya’s one. Jones is in a good spot, but he’s still number one.”
On the moment Chael realized Jon Jones was on PEDs
“What popped out in the actual fight? I remember Jon and I locked up right in the beginning and I remember it was like a Volvo and a Mack truck, and he just pushed me across the octagon and my back even hit the cage, and I remember when it hit going, I’m in a bad night right now.
“I mean, I had a higher juice concentrate than Tropicana for that fight, and he still pushed me around. So, I remember when he pushed me around, I go, I know your secret, Jon. And it was about a year later where he failed more drug tests than I did – which actually disappoints me. I had the record, Jon had to take everything from me, including that.
“But I do remember when we locked up the first time, I knew what I was doing, and I’m the one getting shoved around. I also know what he was doing.”
Who wins between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje
“Well, let’s back up, if this was two weeks ago like it was supposed to be, Tony Ferguson [wins], nothing to see here. This is totally different with Gaethje getting an extra three weeks. It’s totally different. Three of those weeks, two of them will be spent training hard. He’ll taper the last week, but so will Tony.
“You give a guy two weeks, and two may not sound like much, but I’m telling you, you can get into shape in two weeks. And Tony had already had three. Now, three is not quite enough for five rounds. Three is not quite enough for everything, but it’s still not a terrible spot. Two extra weeks changes this fight.
“Now, if you want a prediction, I still lean towards Tony, but I do think instead of this being two rounds of fun, you’re now looking closer to four rounds of fun. I prefer it as a fan. I prefer that we got a little more time for these guys.”
If cutting weight again so soon will affect Tony Ferguson
“I think it’s a fair talking point. Now, how should we interpret this ahead of time? Look, this is an experiment, okay? Nobody knows, does pulling down and drawing your body out and then two weeks later doing it again, is that helpful?
“Are we all gonna look back and going, wow, that’s what we should be doing? We shouldn’t be taxing ourselves in that last 48 hours where you’re dragging out there 24 hours later, we should be doing it over a longer stint. Is that what we’re going to find? I don’t know. I’m just gonna tell you this, Tony is a wrestler.
“Tony, in fact, won a national championship at college wrestling. In college wrestling you will have 30 matches over the season and you will have 16 weigh-ins one week apart. So, this is nothing new for Tony. People have made a big deal that he weighed in and two weeks later he’s gotta weigh in again.
“He grew up weighing in every single Saturday morning. So, never once in his wrestling career has any wrestler ever looked back and go, ‘well, you know, I had a bad night tonight, but I think it’s cause I weighed in last week’. One’s got nothing to do with the other.”
On McGregor fighting Nate Diaz next and how the UFC can’t pull the screwjob on Ferguson a second time
“I think now is the perfect time for that [Nate Diaz Trilogy fight]. And look, I know everything that’s been said is we’re going to keep Conor on ice and we’re gonna put him against Khabib, the winner of Tony and Khabib in September.
“But of course, that was believing that Khabib was going to win. You have to understand, if that is still the plan, then that means we’re getting ready to pull the screw job on Tony a second time. They have promised Tony an interim title fight for the second time. The first time he did it. He never lost it.
“And all of a sudden that belt is gone. We as fans cannot allow that to happen. If Tony comes out of this thing, Tony needs to be fighting Khabib. And if at some point they try to slide in Conor, which is likely, maybe not likely, but possible, that means we screwed Tony a second time. We can’t let that happen.”