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Dana White: Chael Sonnen was ‘the best guy to push buttons’ before Conor McGregor

UFC president Dana White has some complimentary words for the recently-retired Chael Sonnen.

Celebrities Attend UFC 170 - Rousey v McMann Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Right before Conor McGregor burst into the mainstream, Chael Sonnen was the guy who wore the black hat. He was the fighter who made headlines for his quotable quotes during interviews and press conferences.

The 42-year-old Sonnen recently ended his 22-year professional career at Bellator 222 last week, after he was stopped by Lyoto Machida in the second round of their fight. Whatever legacy he left behind, major MMA figures like UFC president Dana White, for one, had nothing but congratulatory words for “The American Gangster.”

“I like Chael a lot, I have a very good relationship with Chael,” White said on MMA on SiriusXM (transcript by The Mac Life). “I like the fact that [the UFC] is the hardest place in the world to stay and make a living. It’s a very hard place.

“You have to be one of the best in the world to stick around here. And when guys can’t stick around here anymore, and they go somewhere else and get paid and make money; I love it. Good for them.”

White even went on to draw comparisons between Sonnen and the UFC’s inactive, yet still biggest marquee name on the roster, Conor McGregor.

“I don’t think Chael was necessarily a bad guy,” White said. “I think Chael was very good — before Conor McGregor — Chael was the best guy out there to push buttons and not only piss off other fighters, but piss off fans and stuff like that. He was very calculated and very smart in the way he conducted himself in this business.”

Apart from being a three-time UFC title challenger, Sonnen has had some stellar names on his resume, including the likes of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Fedor Emelianenko, just to name a few.

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