Three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen didn’t take kindly to being called out by The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani and No. 2 ranked middleweight Dricus Du Plessis.
On September 9, two-time titleholder Israel Adesanya surrendered the 185-pound crown in a surprisingly lopsided loss to Sean Strickland in the UFC 293 main event. Originally, Dricus Du Plessis was slated to be the man to face ‘The Last Stylebender’ in the evening’s headliner, but the South African declined the opportunity, citing a foot injury following his second-round knockout of Robert Whittaker at UFC 290 eight weeks prior.
Chael Sonnen called Du Plessis’ injury into question, noting that the fighter had no noticeable limp when he left the cage following his last big victory. ‘Stillknocks’ didn’t take kindly to the insinuation that he was faking or embellishing the injury and took Sonnen to task during an appearance on Helwani’s show.
“What a dumb thing to say, you know? With all that adrenaline in your body, just knocked out Robert Whittaker,” Du Plessis said in response to Sonnen’s comments. “Just faced off with Israel Adesanya, you think I’m going to walk with a limp? I don’t know what kind of man you are, but I’ll fake that limp every day.”
Helwani joined in on the Chael Sonnen slamming, adding that the former middleweight contender often says “stupid things.”
Getting wind of the comments, Chael Sonnen was quick to snap back at both Helwani and Du Plessis during a recent episode of his Beyond the Fight series on YouTube.
“Ariel [Helwani] and Dricus Du Plessis teamed up. The two of them on little ol’ me. I wasn’t even there,” Sonnen said. “I wasn’t even there to defend myself, but had I been, it still would have been two-on-one. The two of them had called me stupid. That’s not a very nice thing to say. Particularly to your intellectual superior. It’s a reckless thing to say. Particularly to your rhetorical superior, but they did it anyway.
“And when I watched the piece and Dricus says that I said he skipped the Izzy fight because he had a bad foot. Which he did say and admitted to saying, and then says that his evidence that his foot was not hurt was me watching him walk out of the cage without a limp, which is true. I did watch him walk out of the cage and he did not have a limp. So I’m confused at the part where Chael is stupid.
“So then I get a little bit confused about this and maybe it’s the simple… Maybe I don’t know what the word stupid means. I haven’t actually looked it up. I must tell you I haven’t actually looked it up, but maybe it means something different. Does it mean accurate? It can’t mean inaccurate because Dricus and I are saying the same thing. He walked out of that cage without a limp. That’s what we’re saying. He skipped the Adesanya fight because of a hurt foot.
“We’re both saying the same thing. Dricus then goes further and he tells Ariel… And here’s the part that you get upset. [He goes], ‘I don’t know what kind of a man you are.’ Now, I don’t know if he’s talking about Ariel, who would barely qualify as a man, or if he was talking to me. That’s the part I don’t know about.”
Chael Sonnen suggested that Du Plessis’ words would likely start a fight in the streets whilst taking a dig at the South African’s lack of star power and media attention, adding that he’s the only person currently talking about him.
“There’s some things that are fighting words, and every man knows if you tell another man, ‘I don’t know what kind of man you are,’ if you even bring the word ‘man’ into it, you’re now in a fight,” Sonnen said. “Every man knows that, but I don’t know if he said it to me. I don’t really wanna fight with Dricus,” Sonnen said.
“I don’t think anybody’s been more helpful to Dricus. I can guarantee you nobody’s talking about Dricus today except for me. When I do talk about people, I do try to tell the story accurately, and Dricus is saying that he told the media that if he was medically fit to fight that he would, and I am telling you he did not. That did not happen, that’s false.”
Chael Sonnen Calls Out Ariel Helwani for Bringing Himself Into the Argument
Chael Sonnen also bashed the streaking standout for what he perceives to be a fake tough guy act put on by Du Plessis.
“You’re such a tough man that you’re going to fake not limping, doesn’t get you any credit after a fight,” Sonnen said. “There’s no bravado that is built into leaving the ring faking a limp. The macho guy that you’re claiming to be, hides the limp on his way to the fight, not on his way out of the fight.”
Chael Sonnen then briefly turned his attention back toward Ariel Helwani, adding that he was more upset by Helwani’s verbal jab than anything Du Plessis had said.
“I don’t have any kind of a problem with Dricus, I think my bigger problem is with Ariel,” Sonnen said. “I don’t like that Ariel said, ‘Yeah, Chael says a lot of stupid things, including about me.’ He said that [and] he brought himself into it. What stupid things do I say about Ariel? Every now and then I’ve teased Ariel for pretending that he watches soccer, he doesn’t watch soccer. I’ve teased Ariel for pretending he watches darts, he doesn’t watch darts. I’ve teased Ariel for pretending he’s a basketball fan, nobody’s a basketball fan. But I don’t know what I said that was stupid” (h/t Sports Illustrated).