In one of the more bizarre interviews your likely to hear this year the UFC’s current No.1 contender Chael Sonnen appeared on The Jim Rome Show today to discuss controversial comments attributed to him regarding cycling superstar Lance Armstrong.
Earlier this week Sonnen had appeared on Pro MMA Radio and stated his belief that Armstrong had been struck down with cancer after having used steroids earlier in his career.
Needless to say that what he said quickly spread like wildfire and was widely reported in the media.
Latching on to the story Jim Rome today called Sonnen and asked him if he could confirm that he had said those remarks.
“I did not,” was Sonnen’s surprising response, “and Lance Armstrong called me about that. We’re team mates on the Nike team together, I work out in the Lance Armstrong building three days a week at the Nike campus, the world headquarters at Beaverton, Oregon.
“I have never spoke of Lance Armstrong or anybody else that doesn’t have a contract in the middleweight division in the UFC.”
Sonnen then went on reveal what the world famous cyclist had said to him.
“He said, ‘I heard your interview, what are you saying about me?’ I said that was the first I heard about it. He broke the story for me, I thought he was kidding. I didn’t even believe it was him, I’ve only talked to him on the phone a couple of times. I didn’t really know what was going on, he blindsided me.”
The UFC star then went on to assure Rome that, “you won’t find any footage of any such interview, complimentary or derogatory.”
Unfortunately for him Rome did indeed have footage – or at least an audio recording of the interview which he then played for Sonnen.
“Sounds like a guy with a Hispanic accent,” Sonnen said, remaining defiant in the face of irrefutable proof, “maybe I had a bad connection but I thought you were kidding around with that voiceover. That’s certainly not me.”
It’s not the first time Sonnen has tried to distance himself from comments he’s made. Earlier in the year he posted numerous messages on his twitter account taunting Anderson Silva. When certain comments which some believed carried a racist undertone were brought to the attention of mainstream site The Huffington Post, Sonnen quickly denied having posted them and went as far as to say that he didn’t have a twitter account.
Again he was caught out however since Ariel Helwani had video footage of him in an earlier interview not only talking about his twitter account, but also reading out the address of it for Helwani.
Sonnen’s controversial remarks in the lead-up to UFC 117 may have boosted his profile and generated plenty of hype for the title fight, but there’s no doubt that he’s overstepped the mark on several occasions. if he loses on Saturday night then some people will be questioning whether his comments may end up having a negative effect on his career and reputation in the longer term.