Sonnen Talking by Example

By: Jake Rossen
Aug 10, 2010

Chael Sonnen file photo: Dave Mandel |

“Is it just me that was irritated hearing Dana White praise Sonnen for all his trash talk?...With White cheering on 'professional wrestling'-style 'drama,' now we're going to see all young fighters running their mouths…Sad to see a single idiot turn a sport that for centuries has incorporated respect for others into the new WWF.”
-- Reader Ed M.

Chael Sonnen: the blogging gift that could keep on giving.

Promoting fights can be made to be complicated, but it really comes down to a simple premise: make the audience care about the two guys fighting. This is best accomplished by having them be a relative. When that’s not feasible, it’s helpful to have at least one strong personality.

Some guys can get by on their own running narrative. Randy Couture is an attraction not because he’s particularly charismatic -- he’s not -- but because there’s appeal in seeing how a man flirting with 50 contends in a brutal fight sport. Brock Lesnar doubles up by being a curiosity -- witness the giant man-beast! -- and having the ability to swallow microphones with his verbal promotion. The guys that can do this without sounding forced or affected often make lots of money.

Take away all of Sonnen’s bizarre hype and you’re left with a fight between a hot-and-cold contender who doesn’t have a particularly exciting style against a champion who tries to get away with not fighting whenever possible. That’s ticket death. Sonnen stepped up and got people excited.

Is it too much? Maybe: by the time event week came, his rants were becoming white noise. And there’s real justification in the concern that Sonnen could be responsible for an army of fighters who try to sell fights based on dopey, manufactured rivalries and lame insults. Some guys can pull it off; most can’t. If the day comes when fighters have staff writers, let’s remember whom we can blame.

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