Here’s something you don’t see every day – the UFC’s No.1 pound-for-pound trash-talker Chael Sonnen actually praising his next opponent.
As Brian Stann recently predicted, Sonnen has decided not to give him the same kind of verbal beating that others likes Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva and Lyoto Machida have had to endure in the past.
“That’s a really hard match, and that’s a really great guy,” is Sonnen’s assessment of the fight which will take place at UFC 136 in October.
While Stann often gets the respect of his peers for his bravery in the line of duty as a former Marine Captain who served in Iraq and was awarded the Silver Star for his heroics in battle, Sonnen also tips his cap to ‘The All-American’s’ rapidly improving skills inside the cage.
“I think Stann’s an awesome guy. I didn’t think he could get by Leben. Nobody has dominated Chris Leben like that — ever — in his entire career. That was kind of like an “Oh Wow” moment when I saw that in my living room. That was a special performance,” Sonnen tells Heavy.com.
“Then they gave him a really easy fight after that, and he went out and did some more great things. Even an easy fight, you’ve still got to go do the fight, and he did. He’s really good.”
In the past week Sonnen had stated he was looking for a “tune-up fight” following a lengthy suspension for testosterone usage, but he admits someone of Stann’s caliber wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.
“It’s a lot harder fight than I thought I was going to have. I didn’t think I was going to have the #6 guy in the world right out of the gate.”
Despite that the oddsmakers actually have Sonnen as the favorite, likely due to his superior wrestling which could be a major factor in the fight.
So far Sonnen’s other major weapon – his ability to get under his opponent’s skin with his pre-fight verbal sparring – has not materialized, but the outspoken fighter stops short of confirming that he’ll only be doing his talking in the cage this time around.
“I wouldn’t count on that,” he chuckles.