Will Chael Sonnen avoid trash-talking his UFC 136 opponent? | Photo: Dave Mandel
With a reputation built on over-the-top trash talking and mocking of opponents -- and whoever else draws his attention -- middleweight Chael Sonnen faces a bit of a pickle with upcoming opponent Brian Stann.
Nicknamed “All-American,” the former Marine Captain was awarded the Silver Star for heroic actions while fighting in Iraq, in addition to graduating from the Naval Academy, where he played football. He’s also from Scranton, Pa., which is about as Middle America as one can get. In his entire career, Stann has never shown any inclination to play the heel in interviews, whereas Sonnen seems born for it. The two will square off Oct. 8 at UFC 136 in Houston.
The announcement of a Stann-Sonnen bout last week raised two questions: the matchup itself and the question of how the normally irascible Sonnen would talk about his opponent. Thus far, it is about as straight and narrow as Sonnen has been in recent years when it comes to assessing opponents.
“I wasn’t ready for a Brian Stann style fight,” Sonnen told MMAMania.com in an interview last week. “I was ready to take on a Wanderlei [Silva] or a [Lyoto] Machida or something like that. I’ll need to sit down and reevaluate and up the intensity, that’s for sure. He’s doing such a good job.
“Rewind to his match with Chris Leben [at UFC 125]. Nobody has dominated Chris Leben like [Stann did]. That was a special performance,” he added. “Then they gave him a really easy fight [against Jorge Santiago] after that, and he went out and did some more great things. Even [in] an easy fight, you’ve still got to go do the fight, and he did. He’s really good.”
Jason Probst can be reached at Jason@jasonprobst.com or twitter.com/jasonprobst.