UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen knows he’ll have to push his verbal warfare strategy to the limit to rattle champion Anderson Silva’s cage.
Sonnen continued that onslaught during a media conference call on Tuesday touting the UFC 117 championship bout, which takes place on Aug. 7 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
During the call, the 35-year-old Silva, speaking through translator and manager Ed Soares, often gave short “yes” and “no” answers to his questions, which prompted the U.S. Olympic wrestling team alternate to attack his promoting skills.
“I’m a partner with the UFC. Anderson’s an employee,” said Sonnen. “There’s a big difference. That’s the reason all the questions keep coming to me, ‘cause I give a coherent and clear answer that somebody wants to hear and he sits on a speakerphone in a car somewhere and says ‘yes’ and ‘no’… If two guys are going to fight, let’s give people a reason to watch them.”
When asked if he had any frustrations in seemingly promoting the bout on his own, the 33-year-old Sonnen exploded.
“Of course I’m promoting this fight myself and that’s the way it should be,” said Sonnen. “Nobody wants to hear from Anderson anyway. I’m shocked with all these people who come on here and ask him questions. Who cares what Anderson has to say?”
Sonnen, who rattled off wins over Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, and Nate Marquardt en route to the title shot, also accused Silva and his camp of picking “easy fights” in his past bouts.
“…They pick their fights and they take easy fights, fighting Math teachers from Ohio or one-legged guys from Canada,” said Sonnen. “There’s going to be a tremendous difference when he gets in with an All-American from Portland, Oregon,” said Sonnen.
Sonnen also stated that Silva, who’s defended his title eight times since winning it in 2006, has no fans and that only one company chooses to sponsor him because of his lack of selling power in the market.
“I don’t like him,” said Sonnen, adding that he’s found no fault in Silva’s in-cage tactics. “I don’t offer an apology and I don’t need to give and explanation. We can’t all get along. Him and I aren’t going to be friends…I’m going to take his belt on August 7th, and (UFC President) Dana (White) is going to fire him on August 8th.”
Silva’s response to Sonnen’s words was as uncomplicated as his single-word answers.
“I actually think it’s funny,” said Silva.
When reporters pushed the Brazilian for clarification and further comment, Silva’s manager Soares questioned why the media was trying to make his client engage with Sonnen’s comments.
“This is just a conference call. Anderson finds it to be funny,” said Soares, “and they’ll take care of what they have to August 7 inside the Octagon. And then we’ll see who’s laughing.”
“I want to go in there and do my job. Everyone has there own way of promoting a fight,” added Silva. “This is his way that Chael is choosing to promote the fight and that’s his choice. On August 7, I have a job to do… not mess around and talk a bunch of crap about people.”
When describing Silva as a fighter and opponent, Sonnen had a straightforward answer, though.
“He’s a scary fighter. There’s just not a lot of fighters you can say that about that are just flat-out scary,” said Sonnen. “He’s very mean. He’s vicious. He’s sharp, in that he’s so skinny and long (that) his elbows, knees and fists are sharp.”
Sonnen predicted it wouldn’t be easy going with Silva on fight night.
“He’s going to hurt me really bad on August 7,” said Sonnen. “I’m confident that I can deal with the pain, walk through it, go to the hospital that night and leave with the championship belt anyway."
In other notes:
• When asked if he’d gotten bored in the UFC middleweight division, Silva answered, “No. I like my weight division and I’m prepared to stay in my weight division. I want to retire in (that division.)”
Silva also shrugged off a suggested catch-weight bout with 170-pound champ Georges St. Pierre and light heavyweight candidates like Lyoto Machida, inviting challengers to cut down to face him at 185 pounds.
• Sonnen voiced a lack of enthusiasm in meeting Vitor Belfort next, if he gets past Silva. Belfort was to have met Silva at UFC 112, but withdrew from a shoulder injury and underwent surgery.
“I believe Vitor’s in line next. That’s probably not who I’d want to fight,” said Sonnen. “I’ve got a guy in mind and I’ll challenge him on the night of the 7th.”
• Silva had few words for UFC President Dana White, who expressed discontent with the Brazilian’s April victory over Demian Maia at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. “He can say what he wants to say,” said Silva.
• Sonnen dispelled talk that the fighter also took issue with Silva’s manager, Soares.
“I have never said anything bad about Ed,” said Sonnen. “I’m really close to considering Ed a friend.”
• Silva denied having any difficulty with wrestlers, including with Sonnen’s former teammate and two-time Olympian Dan Henderson. Henderson grounded Silva for the first round of their UFC 82 bout in March 2008, before the Brazilian floored Henderson and choked him into submission in the second.
“No, as far as wrestling goes, I didn’t have a problem with Dan Henderson and he’s one of the best wrestlers around,” said Silva.
• Sonnen did express some downside to his verbal campaign against Silva, agreeing that it took time and energy from his training: “Everything’s a negative thing. Everything’s a hurdle that you have to get through, but that’s the way it should be. If you’re going to headline an event, there should be pressure and added distractions and things to do."