Chael Sonnen: ‘I have a shot to fix my life’ with Anderson Silva boxing match


Chael Sonnen has a shot at redemption.

This Saturday, Sonnen faces off with Anderson Silva in an exhibition boxing match in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It’s a continuation of their longtime rivalry in MMA, one that defined the early 2010s in the UFC. And though both men are far removed from their athletic peaks — Sonnen is 47 and Silva is 49 — “The American Gangster” still views this as a chance to redeem himself.

“I didn’t know how big this was,” Sonnen said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “I did not know what a thing this was until I got here. Everybody is talking about it. We’ve had boxers coming to our events. I met a guy yesterday who is on the card, he’s an Olympic silver medalist, and he was coming and showing us respect, even though we’re getting ready to do his sport. It’s a big deal out here, I guess that’s all I’m trying to say.

“I have a very legitimate shot of redemption. It won’t just be something I will know, or I’ll send you a text and a couple of us know, there’s a lot of people that are going to watch this fight, and I have a shot to fix my life.”

Sonnen challenged Silva for the UFC middleweight title twice in his career, falling short both times. In their first matchup, which will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this summer, saw Sonnen dominate the fight until Silva secured a miraculous come-from-behind submission victory in the final round. Their rematch two years later was far less compelling, as Silva stopped Sonnen early in the second round. And Sonnen says that it’s hard to ever get over something like that.

“Sports were such a part of my life,” Sonnen said. “I did them since I was 8-and-half years old. And none of them went the right way. I lost in the state finals, I lost in the national finals, I lost in the UFC finals. There’s counseling and things that are involved when you have those traumatic experiences, of trying, basically, to let yourself know, ‘Hey, that sport is not a big deal. Quit being a baby.’ But as easy as it is to say, it’s not easy to do when I don’t have memories of anything else. I didn’t have social events and friends and sleepovers and things like this. I was always at practice. So when it doesn’t go your way, it’s one of those things that sticks with you. It would be a massive opportunity to fix it.

“I remember Rashad Evans lost five fights in a row, it might have even been six. He left the UFC and he came back in Eagle [FC] and it wasn’t widely attended, but he knew. He knew that he had stopped the losing streak — not only did he win the fight, but he won every round and he could feel good about himself and was proud of himself. That might sound like a small deal but it’s a massive opportunity, and I’ve got it.”

Sonnen is not the first fighter to covet an opportunity like this. Former opponent Tito Ortiz famously got a third crack at his longtime rival Chuck Liddell 12 years after their second encounter, and Ortiz exacted his revenge with a first-round knockout. Sonnen doesn’t view this as exactly the same, but he admits that winning on Saturday will still be a happy moment for “The Bad Guy.”

“Yes [it would soften the blow of the earlier losses]” Sonnen said. “It wouldn’t replace those two fights. Those happened and it’s not just about who can beat who up and things like this. The most important part of our sport is time. Can you beat the guy at a certain time?

“So no, I would not make believe that if I got the jump on him, I’m going to grab the mic and cut a Tito-Chuck-esque type speech. I realize what the stakes were and I realize that they’re not there now. But yes, inside and internally, yeah. And I’d stop by Cleveland to see the guy [I lost against] from NCAA and I’d stop by Medford to see the guy [I lost against] from high school state if I had the opportunity.”


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