Chael Sonnen was originally to be in the corner of Yushin Okami this Saturday at UFC 134: Rio when Okami attempts to take the UFC welterweight title from Anderson Silva. Over the weekend it was made clear that Sonnen would not be attending the event, but made equally clear that it had nothing to do with the Facebook page encouraging a "lynching" of Chael. The questions about why Sonnen wouldn't be attending the event have been answered as MMA Junkie reports that it was at the request of one of Okami's sponsors:
Sonnen said a major sponsor of Okami's requested he not attend the pay-per-view event, which takes place Saturday at Rio's HSBC Arena.
A source with knowledge of the situation told MMAjunkie.com that Praetorian, a Brazil-based MMA brand, threatened to pull the Japanese fighter's sponsorship if Sonnen attended.
In typical Sonnen fashion he had to take it a step further and enter the realm of the absurd:
And that could be the least of problems for the expert trash-talker. Sonnen said friends in the country forwarded him a local-media report in which a police chief threatened to arrest him on sight if he showed. The official cited a law that makes disparaging the national identity a crime.
"You don't have freedom of speech in Brazil; put it like that," Sonnen told MMAjunkie.com after a workout at Team Quest Tualatin.
The source said Sonnen's claim is untrue. But the fighter's bombastic interviews have created quite a stir.
There is, of course, no such local-media report. But what Sonnen is doing has been effective enough to make him the enemy of a huge segment of an entire country. And that means he is doing something right.