After he recently announced his retirement from MMA, UFC president Dana White has praised former top contender Chael Sonnen’s career - particularly his ability to ‘push buttons’ and ‘piss people off.’
Sonnen (30-17-1) decided to hang up his gloves earlier this month after his loss to Lyoto Machida at Bellator 222. “The American Gangster” challenged for both the UFC middleweight title and light heavyweight title during his time in the UFC. However, Sonnen was mostly renowned for his trash talk in which he used to get under the skin of his opponents before their fights.
Talking to Sirius XM, White spoke about Sonnen’s retirement.
“I like Chael a lot. I have a very good relationship with Chael,” White said. “I like the fact that this is the hardest place in the world to stay and make a living here. It’s a very hard place. (Transcription via MMA Fighting)
“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 they can get paid and make money, I love it. Good for them.”
White continued by saying before two-weight UFC champ Conor McGregor came into stardom, Sonnen was the best fighter who had the ability to ‘piss off both fighters and fans.’
“I don’t think Chael was necessarily a bad guy. Before Conor McGregor, Chael was the best guy out there who knew how to push buttons and not only knew how to piss off other fighters but also piss off the fans and do things like that,” White said.
“I think he was very calculated and very smart in how he conducted himself in this business.”
Now he is fully retired from MMA, Sonnen’s duties will involve working for ESPN and Bellator as an MMA analyst.