Chael Sonnen has never lacked for spin control (other than his second fight with Anderson Silva). Give him a negative and he’ll find the positive, just about every time.
And after more than 3-years on the sidelines, following a disastrous end to his UFC career, he made his re-entry into the competitive world of MMA. Sonnen took on Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170, getting submitted by a rear naked choke at 2:03 of Round 1. But even after an admittedly poor performance, he hasn’t lost his knack for looking on the bright side.
“What happened?” Sonnen responded when asked about the fight. “Well here's the good news: I got the silver medal. The bad news is, there was only two of us out there.”
“I don't know if I felt good in there,” Sonnen continued when asked about the positives of his return. “I'm really glad that it's done. I've never had a loss that went like this, where I saw so many positives. But, it's been three years. I've seen other fighters, I'm a historian, I'm a big fan. And I've seen other fighters that have taken some time off and come back and it's tough. Particularly at my age, I've fought 49 men, and I've just, I've never had a break before. Since the time I was 9-years-old, I've never had a break. And I wanted to get some minutes, I wanted to get some good minutes. And I don't know if I achieved that tonight or not. I got to do the walk and I got to go through a little of the process, but I was hoping for a much longer contest.”
As for what actually went down in the cage? Sonnen credit’s Tito’s win largely to his own inability to give up on a bad position, even when it obviously wasn’t going his way:
“I never really got a takedown,” Sonnen said, matter-of-factly. “I had an opportunity to, and I didn't spin behind. I thought I had some opportunity for a guillotine and I got greedy. And you know, one thing my coaches always tell me is, "Don't get greedy, stick with the basics." But, I thought I had it. And he stepped over and I still thought I had something there. And every opportunity I had to bail out and let that position go, I didn't do it. And when he finally popped his head out and then I'm mounted, then I'm going, "Geeze, I go this way, that way," I couldn't bump him off. And I rolled over and I just remember he, I think he had, like a rear naked choke. It was really tight and I tried to defend it, but he had it.”
But, while the fight may not have gone his way, it sounds like the future remains unchanged for Sonnen. He’s still has a clear next bout in mind: Wanderlei Silva.
“Yeah, I have my sights set on Wanderlei, and he would tell you the same thing. We got unfinished business that dates back many years.“
For his part, Silva had planned on returning from his own 3+ year hiatus from MMA competition back in December of 2016. However, an inability to properly prepare himself for the contest lead to Silva postponing his return to competition.
The former Pride champion and UFC star hasn’t fought since his 2013 win over Brian Stann. However, he and Sonnen were set to face off after their coaching stints on TUF Brazil 3. A drug test failure from Sonnen and a failure to submit to testing from Wanderlei led to both fighters being suspended from competition for multiple years. Even with a loss to Ortiz for “The American Gangster” a potential bout with Wanderlei has been a long time coming.