DAZN is the exclusive streaming partner of Bellator MMA. You can sign up here.
Chael Sonnen has never been shy about sharing his feelings on traditional karate.
However, Bellator NYC foe Lyoto Machida — a renowned karateka — already has a pair of wins over Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, fighters that Sonnen respects immensely. With that in mind, Sonnen knows he has to find a way to get to Machida and “give it back to him.” Sonnen was respectful to Machida at the Bellator press conference in New York City on Tuesday, but he will give him none when they meet in the cage at Madison Square Garden on June 14.
While Sonnen has evolved as a mixed martial artist in his own right, he still believes his wrestling base is the toughest sport there is. Sonnen said his jiu-jitsu instructor, Fabiano Scherner, is working on bringing in fighters that have a similar style or a karate base like Machida’s to prepare for the matchup, but he is not trying to “learn karate.”
“I don’t respect karate, I’ve never respected karate. I do respect Machida,” Sonnen said.
Sonnen appreciates Machida’s version of the art and how he has transitioned it to the sport of MMA. However, Sonnen also said he “comes from the toughest sport there is, and that’s wrestling.”
“I think I could get to him, I think I could blast him, I think I could put him on his back,” Sonnen said.
While his focus is on Madison Square Garden in June, Sonnen also commented on Tito Ortiz’s recent claims of not being retired. Sonnen was submitted by Ortiz in the opening round at Bellator 170, and the loss is one he would like to get back. For now, however, Sonnen will work on preparing for Machida.