by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy BodogFight.com)

Sometimes all a fighter that is at a crossroads in their career needs is a change of venue to get them kick-started and back on the right track.

Different competition, expectations and even staff can put an athlete in the right mind frame to go out and do what they need to do to be successful and not only be rewarded for what they do, but also raise the level of the competition for their promotion.

Such seems to be the case of Team Quest’s Chael Sonnen, a veteran fighter with numerous appearances in many various promotions who looks to have finally found a home in the ever-rising BodogFight promotion.

Since joining BodogFight last year after a disappointing three-fight run in the UFC, Sonnen has shined for his new company, winning all three fights he’s had for them and looking every bit the multi-time National Wrestling Champion he was prior to getting into MMA.

Among his wins for BodogFight, and one of the most impressive outings of his career, came this past Saturday at the promotion’s latest show in Trenton, New Jersey, as Chael defeated fellow long-time MMA veteran Amar Suloev in just over a round and a half.

So, with a string of solid wins under his belt, an upcoming appearance on the latest edition of BodogFight’s ION Network television series, and a possible title shot looming in the not too distant horizon, Sonnen was in a particularly good mood when he spoke to MMAWeekly after returning home to Oregon earlier this week.

MMAWeekly: Right off the bat Chael, I know a lot of people were impressed with your performance this past weekend, how do you feel about it?

Chael Sonnen: I performed really well and I was pleased with it. There were very few times with a match, win or lose, that come out of it pleased with myself, but I was this time. I got to execute a lot of things that I worked on and visualized. There’s certainly room for improvement, but, I’m moving in the right direction.

I definitely anticipated a little more resistance, and I stuck to the gameplan. I did really good job [sticking to my gameplan] and that’s one of the reasons I was pleased with my match. I did a good job mentally of being on top of things and not getting frustrated. All in all it went a little bit better than envisioned.

MMAWeekly: You’re having a really productive run with BodogFight, how do you feel about where you’re at with the promotion and as a fighter now?

Chael Sonnen: As far as the promotion goes, it’s outstanding. It’s just a real pleasure and I’m truly grateful to be a part of it; one – from an athletic standpoint; and two – it’s a very interesting and great business model. It’s just been kind of fun to be behind the scenes and watch and see how it evolves and grows.

As far as myself, as a fighter, I’m still a piece of coal and I’m working on being a diamond. I’ve just got to keep working, and keep learning from the losses and the wins. I’ve just got to keep moving forward. I’m not going to be complacent – I’ve got to keep moving forward to get to the top of this mountain.

MMAWeekly: With the wins it appears you’re one of the top contenders for Trevor Prangley’s recently acquired Middleweight Championship. Having faced him three times before, are you up for a fourth match if it comes down to it?

Chael Sonnen: I definitely want the title in Bodog, but I don’t want to fight Trevor. There’s nothing more aggravating than saying what I’ve just said. I’ve never been “that guy” who says, “I don’t want to fight, because we are buddies,” or this or that. With Trevor it’s a different case. We have fought, and we have fought, and we have fought – we’ve fought three times. So, the biggest problem is two-fold.

One – over the course of history, which has been eight years since our first fight, up until our last fight a year ago, it’s a long time to bond and build a friendship, and we have got a real friendship now. So on that regard, I don’t really want to compete with him again. Two – competitively, he’s won two of the fights and I’ve won one of them. So let’s say I win the next one and we’re at two a piece, we’ve got to have fight #5, so it’s like, “Geez, in order to stop fighting one another, we have to actually stop fighting one another.”

With that said, would I fight Trevor if I were told to? Yeah, I’m an employee of Bodog and it’s their decision who I fight, but, they’ve also shared the same opinion as the one I just stated to you, that, that dance has already been done and it’s time we compete with other people.

MMAWeekly: It’ll be nice to have a fight and not have to see Trevor, or the other guys you’ve had multiple fights with like Jeremy Horn or Renato “Babalu” Sobral, huh?

Chael Sonnen: Well…I mean…I would love to fight Jeremy Horn or Babalu again. [Laughs] You have to understand; with Jeremy Horn I never got that one win. With Trevor I was able to get that back and can at least sleep at night. With Jeremy Horn I came so close, so many times, and found a way to lose, rather than win. So, yeah, if there’s any way I could get a fourth match with Jeremy, I’ll certainly take it. [Laughs] And, Babalu, he’s always fun to beat up.

MMAWeekly: So, if Trevor is out of the picture, for the moment, what are your goals or upcoming plans for the rest of the year?

Chael Sonnen: They’ve thrown some names at me, but we don’t have anything set. We just got done, and I think they were just trying to get through the weekend before we head in that direction. I have a four-fight deal with Bodog that expires in May of ’08, so I’m guaranteed to get two more fights in by then. I’d love to get them over much sooner than that, but I’m not going to be pushy. I’m an employee of Bodog and I’m going to do what’s best for the company.

I fought a gentleman named Tim McKenzie [for BodogFight: Paradise Lost in Costa Rica earlier this year] and we will air on ION, I believe, on August 7th. Other than that, my main focus is to continue to become a good fighter and be ready to compete with anybody they want me to compete with. So, it’s a little bit selfish, in wanting to be ready to compete with whoever they put me in there with, title or not.

MMAWeekly: Good stuff, Chael, is there anything you’d like to say as we close out the interview?

Chael Sonnen: I want to thank my sponsors, Equity Options and John L. Scott Real Estate. I’m just going to keep working hard and keep taking the fights other fighters aren’t willing to take, and that’s it.

We’ve got an FCFF [Full Contact Fighting Federation] show this Saturday, July 21st at the Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon. It will be Rumble at the Roseland for our 29th show at that venue, and 38th show overall. The doors open at 6pm and the doors open at 7pm. I’ll be out there, Matt will be out there, Nate Quarry, Ed Herman, just to name a few – it’s usually a really fun event.