by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
There may be nothing more heartbreaking in sports than coming so close to a championship that you can taste it, and then going home with second place.
Chael Sonnen was literally less than two minutes away from realizing his dream of winning the UFC middleweight title, and then a split-second later he had it all taken away as Anderson Silva battled back from a 20-plus minute pounding to slap on a fight-ending submission.
Feeling the weight of the situation, Sonnen admitted very candidly that it was definitely hard to swallow, and second place is not something he likes very much.
“I’m devastated. I came in second,” said Sonnen. “I worked hard and did what I could do, and all that nice stuff, but at the end of the day you either get your hand raised or you don’t, and I didn’t.”
Sonnen put a beating on Silva the likes of which no fighter before him had ever done. He knocked the Brazilian down with a punch in the first round, before following up with a dominant ground game for the next 23 minutes. He knows that he gave Silva a war, but he came up just short of winning.
Regardless of that, Sonnen still stands by every single word he said about Silva and towards Silva before this fight happened.
“This sport’s very unique. We scour planet Earth, and we came down to the two best guys. If you go look at the rankings tomorrow morning, we’re still going to be the two best guys,” Sonnen commented. “So, I don’t apologize for anything. I’m not backing off my stance, and if I ever did I would send myself a pink slip and move on in life.”
Making statement after statement prior to the fight, Sonnen ignited an explosive rivalry between he and Silva, and the Oregonian will not back down from that, and he’ll continue to call out the best in the world. Why? Because that’s what every fighter should aspire to do.
“When I go off it’s like a bomb, and anyone around me’s going to get dirty. That’s the way that it goes. I don’t offer an apology for any of that stuff, and these guys need to get thicker skin. Second off, everybody in the UFC should issue an apology, except me. You stick a microphone in a guy’s face and he calls out anybody but the champion, and Joe Silva should fax him a pink slip right then,” Sonnen proclaimed.
“I’m going to go after No. 1, whoever it is. If it’s Anderson, or I gotta go up after the guys at 205, or I go on a diet and go after Jose Aldo, it doesn’t matter. If you’ve got the belt, I’m coming after you.”
With the fight over and done with, Silva went over and hugged Sonnen while the two combatants were still in the Octagon. Though no one knows what the Brazilian said to him, it seems like some fences were mended.
Well, maybe not.
“I don’t have ill will towards Anderson, and I don’t wish him a bad life, but here’s the truth: if the commission would sanction it, and Dana would move, I would fight him right now,” Sonnen said.
The brash Team Quest fighter did suggest a potential ratings winner pitting the two middleweights opposite one another for a run on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, and then a rematch.
There’s no question Sonnen earned everyone’s respect with his performance on Saturday night, but respect doesn’t get you a championship belt or make you No. 1. Only winning does that, and Sonnen understands that better than anyone.
“He’s a good fighter and he found a way to win,” he said about Silva. “That’s what champions do.”