Looking Back at the Top Five Moments of Chael Sonnen’s Career

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Honorable Mention

Looking back at his career, one thing that can never be understated is that Chael Sonnen’s ability to market himself essentially propelled him into the media personality he is now  He said things in a way that made people interested in his fights to the point that they became a huge success on pay-per-view.

Outside the cage, he is an analyst on ESPN as well as a commentator for Bellator. He also hosts one of the most successful MMA podcasts, You’re Welcome. His presence has become prolific, being on-site to cover events like Khabib vs. McGregor when he has fights with the likes of Fedor Emelianenko a week later. All the while, still training and being an active part of his team in Oregon.

He had plenty of huge victories, including defeating future champion Michael Bisping in 2012 to secure his second shot at Anderson Silva and stopping former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2013.

His personality also led to opportunities on The Ultimate Fighter. After coaching eventual title challenger Kelvin Gastelum on season 17, he went to enemy territory on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil to coach against heated rival in Wanderlei Silva.

The two engaged in a memorable skirmish, but did not get locked into the cage until four years later in the main event of Bellator’s pay-per-view in 2017. It was vintage Sonnen, using his wrestling to stifle Silva to take the victory and set-up his entry into the Heavyweight Grand Prix months later.

1. Anderson Silva – UFC 117

What other fight would top this list? Let’s go back in time, before every outlet and media personality used every social media platform to build their brand. YouTube was quickly growing into the global enterprise it is now, and the number one MMA personality to watch was Chael Sonnen.

Every appearance was a showcase of his wit. Every interview a dig at the seemingly invincible middleweight champion. By the time that night arrived in 2010, the anticipation for the battle between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen had become electric.

The drama of the fight was something to witness. Sonnen smothered Silva for four rounds and even stunned him on the feet during the fight. As the minutes began to wind down in the fifth, many felt that one of the most dramatic upsets in UFC history was all but assured.  Silva, undefeated and unthreatened since entering the UFC, had taken more damage in the fight with Sonnen than the last several years combined.

In what remains one the most shocking turn of events in MMA history, Silva turned the tables to secure a triangle choke in the final round to submit Sonnen and retain his title.  The ending was so dramatic, the build-up so intense, that a rematch was immediately called for.

It took two years, and some controversy, but the two did meet in the cage again. Once again, Sonnen took the fight to the champion early. In the second, Silva took control and set up his rival for the sequence that ended the fight.

Has any MMA fighter ever gained more from a fight they lost than Chael Sonnen? His ability to galvanize the fan base is second arguably only to Conor McGregor. He turned it into a full-fledged business that has made him one of the premier media personalities in the sport. All of it propelled by his verbal attack on Anderson Silva nearly a decade ago.

His final record stands at 31-17-1. But one thing the numbers never reflect was the entertainment. Thankfully, it appears he will be continuing to provide that to the sport for many years to come.

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