Three reasons to root for Chael Sonnen at UFC 148
Barry Johnson, InterMat Staff Writer
On Saturday, Chael Sonnen, a 1998 NCAA Division I All-American and 2000 World University Greco-Roman silver medalist, will face Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 148 in Las Vegas.
Here are three reasons wrestling fans should root for the 35-year-old Sonnen on Saturday ...
Sonnen is one of wrestling's greatest supporters and fans
Sonnen traded in his singlet for fight shorts almost a decade ago, but still continues to give back to wrestling. He is a volunteer coach at a youth wrestling club in his hometown of West Linn, Ore., called All-Phase Wrestling Club. He still follows the sport religiously. Sonnen makes regular appearances in USA Wrestling's chat room during World-level events to follow Team USA's results and interact with wrestling fans. Earlier this week Sonnen tweeted to his 177,000 Twitter followers that he was offering two UFC 148 tickets to the first person to donate $1,000 to U.S. Olympic freestyle wrestlers Jake Herbert, Coleman Scott, or Jared Frayer. It didn't take long for Herbert to receive a donation of $1,000.
Here is a 29-minute interview Sonnen did with Flowrestling after the 2011 World Championships ...
Sonnen will bring wrestling more mainstream media attention as UFC champion
Sonnen is already a major draw as the top middleweight contender in the UFC.
If When Sonnen defeats Silva on Saturday night, he will be an even bigger draw and will make more mainstream media appearances. With those mainstream media appearances come more opportunities for Sonnen to promote wrestling through what he wears and says about wrestling. It's not uncommon to see Sonnen wearing a USA Wrestling jacket or a wrestling T-shirt. On Thursday night, when he was making the media rounds, Sonnen referenced Les Gutches and Randy Couture in his interviews, and talked about wrestling nine matches in a single day.
A Sonnen victory could set up a title fight against another former wrestler
If When Sonnen defeats Silva on Saturday night, there is a strong possibility he will face another former wrestler, Mark Munoz, for the UFC middleweight title. A title fight between two former wrestlers who faced each other as collegians will bring wrestling to the forefront in the UFC. Munoz, an NCAA champion at Oklahoma State, faces former All-American wrestler Chris Weidman on Wednesday night on the UFC on Fuel TV 4 card. Assuming Munoz gets past Weidman, he will be in position to earn a title shot against the winner of Silva-Sonnen on Saturday night. (Of course, depending on how Saturday night's fight turns out, a Silva-Sonnen III cannot be ruled out.) Sonnen and Munoz were scheduled to fight on Jan. 28, but the fight was cancelled after Munoz sustained an injury.