When UFC Middleweight Chael Sonnen attempted a spinning back-fist, missed badly and landed flat on his ass against Anderson Silva last night at UFC 148 he visibly gave up and lost the fight right there. Sure Silva proceeded to knee him viciously in the chest, drop him with a right hook and finish with ground and pound, but the fetal'd Sonnen had already surrendered in his mind.
That's nothing new for Chael Sonnen.
When Sonnen fought Anderson Silva the first time at UFC 117, he famously battered and dominated the champ for 4.5 rounds before finding a way to lose the fight. Sure enough, Sonnen found himself tapping to a combination triangle choke/armbar before the fifth round was done.
Sonnen's coach at the time, Matt Lindland summed up Sonnen's issues with this brutally honest soundbite, "I've said this before as his coach: He'll put the work in, and he'll stay dedicated, and he'll stay focused," he said. "He's an incredible athlete. He's got all the tools. But in fighting, you have to be a tough mother[expletive]. And he's just not very tough."
Lindland was in Sonnen's corner before the fifth round of UFC 117 begging him to hold on for the win but fearing that Sonnen would look for, and find, a way to lose.
As accomplished as Chael Sonnen is as an athlete, his two careers have both peaked with silver medal performances. As a Greco-Roman wrestler Sonnen took second place in the 2000 World University Championships and as an MMA fighter he twice fought for the UFC belt and came up short.
Sonnen showed he still had the template for beating Silva by utterly dominating the first round last night. But when he couldn't get the double leg take down to start the second, Sonnen floundered. He wasn't able to establish his striking game as he did against Silva in their first fight and in short order found himself throwing the hopeless spinning back elbow that landed him on his ass.
In seconds he was curled up in the fetal position, taking a beating and losing the fight. It's where Sonnen knew he would be in the end all along.
After the jump, Sonnen's own comments about his need to see a sports psychologist to stop losing fights he was dominating.
SBN coverage of UFC 148
This is from Chael's appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast in May of this year:
'There is something going on here and it's not physical. There is something going on that I can dominate eight minutes of a fight, seven minutes of a fight, nine minutes of a fight and find a way out time after time after time in the same round with the same move.' So, I went and got help. I went and got professional help and I sought out a doctor, Ed Versteeg. I hate talking about this because this was a real secret. This was a real turning point for me was when I went in, worked on sports psychology and got hypnotized. I was never the same. I was never the same in practice, my attitude was different. Controlling my diet, being discipline, falling asleep, the way I approached battle, the way I approached the second round. Everything changed, and it changed to the point where, I hate to say what I just said and now it's too late because I felt like it was my secret. I discovered something and I don't want other people to know. I will write about it someday in a book, I will talk about it you know, when I'm retired , but I'm not going to tell anybody because it's competitive edge. So when I started seeing a sports psychologist and I finally came clean, it's like being an alcoholic, before you can get help, you have to admit you have a problem. When I finally admitted I got a problem, when I finally said, it, when I finally could acknowledge it and look somebody in the eye and tell them this is what's going on, I'm finding a way to lose as opposed to win. I work harder than these guys. I been at this longer, I know how to stop submissions, I'm finding my way into them, I'm finding a way out and that's what's happening. I had to acknowledge that and once I did it, I never lost again. I lost to Paulo which was the controversial one and then I lost to Anderson after dominating him, I've never been beat since I saw this doctor."
Looks like Chael's going to need more therapy.