Very few people draw the ire of MMA fans like Chael Sonnen, from his attack on Brazil to his TRT antics, he always seems to gain a new fan or linch mob member. As i was skimming down the live thread comments one member asked an interesting question, why do people love Chael? Being a Chael fan i first thought about why i liked him. That was simple, I find him funny, I like his skill set, and he always comes to fight. Simple answer to a simple question right? Wrong i believe people who follow Chael love him for deeper more meaningful reasons. Much of it is the same reasons why Tito Ortiz and Matt Hughes had such a band of lovers and haters. I believe it boils down to three things: consistency, personality, and backing it up.
Will elaborate on each after the jump
No matter what Chael says he always sticks to it, weather it be his trolling of a country or his trolling of fighters out of his weight class, he always sticks to what he says. No matter who he pisses off he will keep the heat on until a Facebook hate group is made in his honor. Also, his fighting style and performances follow a very set pattern. If Chael does not get caught in a sub he will win, the fans know what they are getting when he steps in the cage. Chael looks to go in, take a guy down, and beat on him until the decision or (by some miracle) a stoppage. Cheal does not apologize for it, hell he calls guy who finishes fights lazy.
This is where a fighter like Jon Fitch faulters, he keeps saying that he is out there looking for a finish when that isn't the case. Sure, maybe Jon just can't finish, but he keeps claiming he will get a stoppage and fans get pissed because we know the difference. Granted the Ground and Pound styles are different, but the major problem is that Fitch keeps bullshitting himself and the fans, while Chael faces this by making a joke about it. Bottom line we all know what to expect from Chael: in ring performance and other wise.
As an aside Chuck Liddell is also perfect for this. As a personality Chuck was as exciting as a freshly painted wall, but once he stepped in the cage he was media gold. One of the major reasons why people are turning on GSP is because he keeps talking about stoppages that never happen. It is also one of the major reasons why Jones gets so much heat, in one breath he is to be the local leg kicking super hero, but in the next he is making little kids cry by not signing their title belt.
The guy has a larger than life personality and fans gravitate towards that, but at the same time so will hate. Look at other sports stars such as Sean Avery. Avery is a real person, not the robots we are use to in stick and ball sports. There is no doubt a ton of his media persona is nothing more than a Pro wrestling parody of himself, but it works for him. While he is a clown, Chael shows enough of himself so that people can see that he is a smart person, and really knows the MMA game. Chael brings in something that we have not seen before, he openly mocks a country and make gay jokes and he never issues an apology for any of it.
Dana White for a long time was the same kind of monster, that was until he put a tongue lashing on MMA's succubus, Loretta Hunt. Chael does all this and never issues an apology for any of it. People love a guy who is brave (and in some cases dumb) enough to speak what they want without caring what will happen to them. It also helps that in North America we have had pro wrestling playing the nationality angle forever. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels went tooth to nail about this very topic and at one point a Canadian flag ended up in someones nose.
I understand why Brazil hates the guy, they have very little pro wrestling influence on their culture thus Chael's over the top attacks are seen, not as a character, but as true feelings. Here in North America we know what he is doing and although some try to mount a high horse about it, i'm willing to wager dollars to doughnuts that at one point in your life you were screaming at the TV for your national team to "CREAM THOSE MAPPLE SURIP EATING STUBBLE JUMPERS".
Last but not least Chael backs up what he said with actions. Before the Anderson Silva fight people wrote Chael off and laughed because they through he was the crazy guy suffering from dementia. It all changed after the fight happened, lines were drawn and the civil war between haters and lovers of Sonnen started. CHael goes in a backs up everything he said he was going to do besides the most important thing, Win. Chael said he was going to take the fight to Anderson, check. Beat the shit out of him, check. Make him look like he didn't belong in the cage with him, which he almost did, but Anderson isn't the greatest fighter for nothing. Bottom line is people love someone who can back up their shit talk, it is this that creates so much hate as well.
People who hate Chael hate that he has the skills that he speaks about. They hate the fact that Silva had to reveal a rib injury in order to save face for the beating he took, and finally they hate him because there is a fear that he is good enough to beat the champion and be the best. Ortiz is a perfect example of a guy who people use to hate when he was on top, but turned to love him when he beat Bader. The truth is they knew he was never going to make it back to the title so it was safe to root for him. If Tito had to have beaten Rashad a lot of that old hate would have resurfaced because you realize that "this mount Rushmore headed fuck might win the title again".
Chael has the skill and the ability to beat Anderson and when he talks about beating Anderson fans believe him and he walks in and backs it up.
I'm sure there are a ton of reasons to hate Sonnen, i mean i listed three reasons to hate him above. That's the funny thing about fans of any kind, we all hate a love for the same reasons. I hate the Canadians because they are rivals with the Leafs, while others love the Canadians for the exact same reason. I love Chael because he shit talks and walks in there and, for the most part, delivers on what he says. Others hate him for that reason. I love that Chael makes no bones about his fighting style and i know what i am about to watch, others hate him for it. Say what you want about Chael Sonnen, but there is no doubt that he is a consistent shit talker with a big personality who always backs it up.
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