Chael Sonnen is one of the UFC’s biggest stars. Whether you love him or hate him, you generally pay attention to what he says because he usually offers up a different angle than most fighters. Of late, he has stepped away from his trash talking game a bit (other than on twitter) and done a bunch of insightful interviews that help to frame his views on the sport. The latest one these with Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report. A few of you might remember him.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Chael touches on everything he has going on right now – his UFC 167 bout with Rashad Evans, his television gig, his coaching position on TUF Brazil, and much more. I really encourage you to read the whole thing because it’s great, but here are a few snippets you might enjoy. First up is how a conversation with UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre offered him some insight on peaking too early in training, something Chael has had issues with in the past:
He told me that when he’s training for a fight, he goes to bed a little earlier and he cuts the fast food out of his diet. Otherwise, like me, he was working out the same way, with the same people, every day. He was working with (boxing trainer) Freddie Roach, who told him he cut Manny Pacquiao’s training to five weeks.
Pacquiao is one of the few boxers who works out every day, and Freddie was saying Pacquiao did his best work five to six weeks into an eight-week camp. Then he starts to decline too. I didn’t say anything. I was just listening to Georges talk and thinking, “Man, that’s what I’ve been going through for years.”
Georges told me he was thinking of changing his training camp from a 10-12-week period to a seven- to eight-week period. Again, I didn’t say anything, I just listened. But inside I was thinking, “This is exactly what I’m going through.” But I just always thought it was supposed to be 8-12 weeks.
On how he found out about his coaching gig against Wanderlei Silva on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3:
Here’s how it came about. I’ve never been asked to coach that show. No one asked me if I would. I got told, personally by Dana. He made an announcement on TV while I was interviewing him.
We just weren’t getting any scoop and I was kind of joking around with him. I said, “Hey man, I need something. I need a scoop today.” It sounded like I was joking, but I was serious. It was in a playful manner, but we need some ratings here. So tell us something big. And he did. He paused for a second and he just told us.
That was it. That’s how I found out. So when we got done taping, I asked him a couple of questions, and I didn’t get great answers. Because I believe those details are still being worked out.
On fighting Evans, a guy worked beside extensively on television broadcasts:
It’s just a reality. I’ve been competing my whole life, against teammates and everything else. To bring it back to wrestling, I’d be in the practice room every day with the guys I’d have to compete with on Saturday. If you want to make a varsity lineup, you have to have a wrestle-off. That’s against your teammates in your own practice room. Your own buddies you go to class with. It could be a roommate. And you’ve still got to compete for that spot.
Rashad and I have both been through this. It’s the way that it goes. And we’re both veterans in this sport. It’s incumbent on us to set the example. It would not be a good example for leaders like Rashad and I to refuse a contest against each other.
The sport and the industry would come to a standstill if fighters started picking their own fights. You’ve got to compete against everybody. If Rashad and I can set an example for other guys and let people know you must go compete, that’s our role. We’re in a leadership role, at least with the guys in the back, so that’s what we’ll do.
There’s a ton more, including a lot of additional info about his training camp and what he can do to improve himself, whether Joe Rogan’s “airport fantasies” will play out on TUF Brazil 3, how the language barrier might affect coaching, and where he draws the line on fighting friends. It’s one of the best interviews I’ve ever read with Chael that doesn’t focus on technical stuff, and I highly recommend it giving it a gander.
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