As LowKick reported earlier this week, Chael Sonnen was on FOX Sports Live Tuesday night and the host asked “The American Gangster” for his opinion on the recent Mayweather / Alvarez fight. In response, Sonnen began to wax with one of his usual witticisms and in doing so, used entertainer Rihanna as a metaphor to describe his thoughts on Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his performance in the Alvarez fight.
As LowKick also reported, there was a bit of a backlash regarding Sonnen’s comments and subsequent to that, FOX Sports issued an apology on Sonnen’s behalf, calling his remarks “an inappropriate attempt at humor” and that the network itself, regretted them being made.
As it turns out, FOX Sports wasn't the only entity / one that thought Sonnen’s remarks were in poor taste.
Yesterday in Toronto, Dana White weighed in on the subject at the UFC 165 pre-fight media scrum and his advice to Sonnen was / is to knock off the wise cracks.
In comment, White stated:
"It's at the point where I'm not upset, but Chael is a smart guy, he's a funny guy, he's a talented guy and has a huge future. He's just got to stop with the (cracks), you know? First of all, the joke wasn't that funny. He's not a comedian and you can't make fun of domestic violence or any other thing. He's a sports commentator and he's got to knock that s**t off. He's got to stop. He's got to stop or it's not going to be good. Chael needs to stop the comedy and do what he's on that show to do. He's great at it. He's super talented. Leave the jokes to the comedians."
Yet, is White correct in telling Sonnen that he should leave the jokes to the comedians?
Let’s consider the case.
First, the reason Chael Sonnen is on FOX to begin with, is because of his sense of humor and the “Sonnen-isms” he spouts. 99% of the time Sonnen is the star of any stage, panel or set that he’s on and as such, is a huge draw. As example of his value and allure, we can point to the UFN 26 pre-fight press conference, in Boston; he stole the show. Sonnen gave a much needed, spirited and articulate defense of both the sport and the promotion, in a moment when it needed it; good for him.
Not only is he funny, but he’s also very insightful and he speaks his mind. Those are the qualities that make Sonnen very popular with the fans. It’s not his 6 & 4 (UFC) record or even his willingness to fight anyone between 185 & 205, and at the drop of a hate. It’s his humor, the way he puts things and the fact that we never know what’s going to come out of his mouth, and that he’s fearless in doing it.
If the argument now becomes that Sonnen has to watch everything he says, then he won’t be the same Chael and it will hurt, not help, FOX and its ratings.
Second and in terms of White not thinking the joke was funny, it was. Hence, the entire panel laughed, as did I. When people genuinely laugh at something and the panel did, then it’s an excellent indicator of “something” being comical. My guess is as well, that if White were to be honest, he too probably laughed when and if, he saw the clip.
On this point, his stance is probably more predicated on his relationship with FOX and the problems that the UFC recently went through in Boston, as much as truly believing that Sonnen’s remarks were out of bounds or over the line.
Further still, when we consider the Rihanna / Brown case, the facts of the matter are that she took him back and Brown failed to nurse any of the community service time, which had been adjudicated to him.
Beyond that, Rihanna & Brown have been the butt-end of jokes by every late night comic, syndicated talk show host, gossip column, magazine and blog, for years. Chael Sonnen is not the first, nor is he going to be the last, to make a Rihanna jokes and he’s certainly not the bad guy, here.
In my opinion, the moment Rihanna took Chris Brown back, a guy that hit her and seems to have serious issues with violence and his temper, she and anyone who wishes to defend her on the subject of her being hit by Brown, and that includes White, immediately and forever abrogated their rights to being offended by jokes being made at her expense, on the subject.
Finally, we’ve all heard Dana himself, making some pretty nasty remarks in jest and sometimes not, about referees, fighters, managers, other promotion heads and a whole slew of people. Yet, he’s never chastised himself about it. On this point, the pot is calling the kettle black and White's own hands are not clean enough to give him standing on the matter.
As a big believer in free speech, a lover of comedy and good MMA analysis, I think Sonnen should simply be left alone to be Sonnen, and that FOX and White should just accept him for what he is, which, aside from Joe Rogan, is the best and funniest on-air personality in MMA.