One of mixed martial arts’ original trash talkers looks to draw attention away from the fracas that was UFC 229 as Chael Sonnen takes on Fedor Emelianenko in the semi-finals of Bellator MMA’s heavyweight grand prix.
Sonnen launched barbs on Thursday during a press conference for Saturday’s Bellator 208, and the former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight and light heavyweight title challenger was in prime form.
“The American Gangster” will fight at heavyweight for the second time in his long and storied career, after defeating Quinton Jackson by decision in January to advance in the tournament. Despite the relatively new weight class, Sonnen says nothing will change in his approach to the fight against one of the most decorated and feared heavyweights in MMA history:
“My game plan is always the same. I’m gonna rush across that cage the minute that bell rings and dare him to throw that right hand, because when he does, I’ll be there to drop beneath it and take him down and punch a whole through his face. Either for 15 minutes or until he gives up,” Sonnen said on Thursday.
“It’s either going to be a long and annoying night for Fedor or a short and embarrassing night for me.”
Sonnen did acknowledge Fedor’s brutal knockout power, which the Russian used to knock out Frank Mir in 46 seconds to advance to the semifinals of the heavyweight tournament.
Regardless, the brash Oregon native poked fun at Emelianenko’s physique as the two sat feet away during Thursday’s press conference in New York.
Through an interpreter, Emelianenko replied in typical stoic fashion:
“Chael’s right, I do not have the body of a bodybuilder, but in the cage there are different measurements for success.”
Emelianenko and Sonnen will headline Bellator 208 at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday to determine who will advance to fight the winner of Matt Mitrione vs. Ryan Bader in the tournament final.