Despite being eliminated from the Heavyweight Grand Prix, Chael Sonnen held his head high for the media after Bellator 208.
Uniondale, NY – Following his loss to Fedor Emelianenko in the main event of Bellator 208, Chael Sonnen staked his claim as the top contender in Bellator’s light heavyweight division when talking to the media in the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.
Fighting the legendary Fedor is a tall task for anybody, especially for someone who’s fought the majority of their career at middleweight. Chael Sonnen was up for the challenge, and put up a great effort against “The Last Emperor,” taking him down twice despite being knocked down in the opening exchange. Following that first knockdown, Sonnen knew he was dealing with a different beast.
“Explosive is what I’d call it. With his punches, there wasn’t a ton of setups. They just came, and came hard. Even on the ground, I had some good positions on him and he’d just explode, there wasn’t necessarily technique but he’s an impressive athlete.”
The fight was called off by the referee with very little time left in the first round. Chael was not getting hit cleanly by punches, but he was trapped on his side, leaving the referee no choice.
“There was opportunity there. I was covering up and I thought he was slowing down. And the referee warned me, he said, ‘If you don’t move, I’m gonna stop this.’ But I didn’t think he would because they were going into my hands, I was blocking them. I thought I was having a rope-a-dope moment. I was luring him in. That was a bad strategy it turns out.”
The loss snapped a two-fight winning streak for Sonnen, but his stock did not drop at all in his or Bellator President Scott Coker’s eyes. His future can go in multiple directions following this bout.
“If they want to do a loser’s ball and play this thing out to third like the Olympics then maybe we do that. If you ask me what weight class I’d rather be in, I think 205 is more appropriate. There are guys I need to fight there too. I love the tournament. I’m glad the welterweights are getting a chance. I hope other guys get a chance. From a competitive standpoint, it was really great to be a part of it.”
Chael refused to officially call out Ryan Bader for a light heavyweight title fight because he deemed it would be “inappropriate” following the loss. However, he did state that he is definitively the number-one contender at 205-pounds.
And in true Chael-fashion, he proclaimed that he is the greatest of all time due to his willingness to fight the best in multiple weight classes. With fights against Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and now Fedor Emelianenko, you can see his reasoning.