Chael Sonnen Says Underperforming Will Haunt You More Than a Loss

September 10, 2013
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Chael SonnenYou hear the phrase in youth sports across the country, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” or a variation of the statement.  The message is told to children by their parents, coaches and teachers.  As we get older, the message gets cast aside and winning becomes the primary concern.

But that is not the case with everyone.  To some, the lesson is about work ethic, giving it your all even when your all isn’t enough.

UFC contender Chael Sonnen’s approach to fighting arose from that early childhood lesson.

“It’s a two-man sport and you don’t know who is going to win.  We can’t control who is going to win.  You can only control how you compete,” Sonnen recently told

No one wants to lose, but defeat is always a possibility in competition.  One person wins and one loses.  It is often said you learn more from your losses than your wins, but underperforming on the main stage will haunt an athlete, sometimes forever.

“As an athlete, you’ll never feel bad about losing, but what you will feel bad about is underperforming,” said Sonnen.  “That’s a real thing and it happens a lot when we don’t live up to our potential.  And that keeps you up at night and can give you years and years of regret.

“It could be a relationship, it could be a homework assignment, or it could be an athletic competition.  If you don’t go out and perform to the best of your ability, it will really bother you,” added the 36-year-old fighter.

Sonnen believes sometimes athletes are so focused on the outcome that it hinders their performance.

“But the wins and losses, one guy is going to get his hand raised.  That’s fine. But a lot of times we’ll worry about the outcome and spend so much time thinking, ‘I have to win, I have to win,’ that we don’t perform,” he said.

Sonnen defeated former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in his last outing by submission in the first round.  He takes on another former titleholder, Rashad Evans, at UFC 167 on Nov. 16 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

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  • Dragon Kid

    He’s got a point and for once I agree with Chael

  • Kris-tyahn

    Very true, a very intellectual comment by a pretty intelligent man. Love him or the him, Sonnen is far from stupid.

  • sdelfin

    Excellent advice, both for sports and for life.

  • Manuel Lopez



    The craziest thing about Sonnen is how humble he is in victory. He’s the biggest dick on the planet when he loses, mostly, but when he wins he becomes really humble, and often says really intelligent things. I like him, and find his usual comments hilarious… but like after he beat Stann, after beating Shogun he’s been saying some really good stuff, and not being such a dick about everything.

    • JMoney

      Being a dick is what get the viewers..

      Being humble upon victory is what keeps them..

      Welcome to the fight GAME..

      Sonnen is a genius.. Just take a step back and look at the life this man has made for himself through hard work and the ability to get all of us to tune into his fights.. Many fighters could learn a few points on how to market themselves from the man.. Just don’t go down to Brasil for a holiday anytime soon Gansta!

  • Tran Bronstein

    Chael has always made very intelligent and quite deep comments about athletics and fighting. His interviews where he actually answers questions instead of hyping are fascinating. MMAMA, your comment is dead on and I’ve noticed what you said both in Sonnen and Floyd Mayweather, another “loudmouth” many fans can’t stand but boy is he humble when he wins as well.

  • Darin

    Sonnen walks his talk. He doesn’t cry over losses (the 2 to Anderson were surely heartbreaking) , or gloat (excessively) over some very impressive wins.

  • Give this guy a break. He’s a long time fan or pro wrestling and he’s making money and entertaining in between fighting making a living. Every time he get’s in that cage he pushes forward and goes for it. He trains nonstop because that’s what he loves. Win or lose, he trains hard and frequently.