A day after his instant classic fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117 Chael Sonnen sat down and talked with Mike Straka on the ‘Fighting Words’ show about a remarkable few months in his career.
It’s a terrific interview from start to finish, and one you can watch in full below, but I wanted to draw attention to one of the more interesting points to come out from it regarding Sonnen’s opinion on the very end of the fight.
Watching it live there appeared to be some confusion over whether Sonnen did in fact tap, and also whether the challenger was disputing the fact or not as the two fighters remained entangled for some time after the referee stepped in.
In his interview with Straka, Sonnen is candid about exactly what happened.
“I never once disputed the tap, but I also didn’t know what happened. You know, whether I did tap or didn’t tap, and I by no way is that me saying that…I haven’t seen the video…it was the right stoppage.
[Referee] Josh [Rosenthal] woke me up to let me know the fight was over. Josh was saying my name and it was the same way as when my mother used to wake me up for school in the morning. ‘Chael….Chael….’ she’d say it over and over and It’d kinda get into my dream and then I’d snap out of it. That was what it was like with Josh. He repeated my name three or four times and I remember when I came too…,’Am I the champion or not? I didn’t know how it ended.”
There’s no question when watching the replay’s that Sonnen tapped, but it appeared at the time that Sonnen was conscious at all times. It’s certainly interesting to now know that he was in fact on the very verge of unconsciousness just as he was tapping which is likely to have led to the confusion between the two fighters and the referee in the immediate aftermath of the fight.
During the interview it’s clear to see that Sonnen is pretty banged up after the fight, but he reveals that despite taking some heavy shots from Silva, that it was in fact the octagon mat that was his real nemesis in the fight.
“I’ll tell you the worst part Mike – the canvas of the UFC. If you ever get in that thing, kneel down and rub your hand on it. It’s a very rough canvas,” he says, pointing out that it’s made that way to help fighters keep their balance and prevent slipping.
“Adversely, if your on it like I am a lot – if your in the top position, getting your knees down, pushing your feet onto the mat – your slowly grinding the skin off of your knees and your feet. And you come out of one of those matches, and more than anything that hurts is your knees and your feet because they are now rubbed raw, and their actually bleeding and you can’t cover them and you can’t sleep at night. Then, forget it when you try to shower the next day – oh my goodness, it’s stinging – and aside from everything you can see, it’s the stuff you can’t see. It’s my knees and my feet. If I could just take that pain away I’d even take the pain in my face.”
Be sure to watch the full interview with Sonnen below.