Three-time UFC title challenger, Chael Sonnen has brought light to an interesting issue that arose during his intial middleweight title challenge opposite, Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva at UFC 117 in 2010.
The polarizing Oregon native came mere seconds away from upsetting the odds and scoring a famous unanimous decision win over the Brazilian counter striker, before he was wrapped up in an armbar and triangle with just over a minute remaining in the fifth and final round.
Dominating the majority of the fight in his first title challenge under the promotion’s banner, Sonnen utilised his grappling effectively for five rounds, scoring three successful takedowns, and from guard majorly, landed a total three-hundred and twenty strikes.
With Silva on his back, moments away from losing his middleweight crown, the São Paulo Muay Thai ace wrapped up a triangle to leave the judges’ out of the equation, and issue Sonnen his first loss in three Octagon outings.
Speaking with former UFC site coordinator, Burt Watson on MMA Junkie’s new feature, Legend 2 Legend – Sonnen, who had yet to tackle a fifth and final round in his then thirty-eighth professional fight, told of some confusion in his corner ahead of the last round – which was actually communicated to him as the “fourth round“.
“I do remember one thing, which was in the fifth round – which I had never been to before – the corner had told me before the round that it was the fourth round, that we had two rounds to go,” Sonnen explained. “And, I only bring that up to you because I have often wondered would i have done something different if I knew there was only a minute left? A minute left and I’m gonna be the world champion as opposed to a whole other round. That isn’t an attempt to blame the corner, I’m just sharing a story with you about that specific moment.“
Sonnen, who never reached the fifth-round after that first outing opposite, Silva – spoke of the “five-round club” – giving an example of how former opponent of Silva and decorated knockout artist, Vitor Belfort is a rare member of this group.
“Five isn’t all that big of a number, but when you’ve never been in the five-round club before it’s a very unique experience,” Sonnen said. “You can look at fighter that have been doing this twenty-twenty-five yeats – Vitor Belfort comes to mind, absolute legend, world champion, will be in the Hall of Fame. He is not in the five-round club. He has never gone five rounds, and I don’t suspect he ever will. It”s a very rare club. Not many guys ever main event or have a title fight (or) are ever put in five rounds, let alone go the duration.“
The 43-year-old went on to compare the situation he found himself in the fifth round upon further inspection, to that of falling asleep and waking up disoreintated as to how long you’ve nodded off for.
“I did lose track of the rounds,” Sonnen said. “I didn’t really know where I was and he hadn’t hit me that many times, but every time he hit me, it affected me. So between all of the chaos that goes on, (I) lost track of the rounds and it was a choke – it wasn’t an armbar – that made me tap. I didn’t really know where I was. It’s one of these things that, when you start to go out, even if it’s for half a second, it could be five minutes. It’s kind of like when you go to sleep at night. Have I been asleep five hours? Have I been asleep five minutes? You gave to look at a clock. It’s kind of one of those strange moments and I’ve never seen the fight.” (H/T MMA Junkie)
Sonnenm who now hosts his own podcast, and features as an analyst for ESPN – amassed a 31-17-(1) professional record, and has laid waste to former world champions, ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, Michael Bisping, Paulo Filho, Nate Marquardt, and Maurício ‘Shogun’ Rua during his storied mixed martial arts career. In his final professional outing, he tackled former UFC light heavyweight, Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida at Bellator 222, dropping a second-round knockout defeat.