There’s been a will-he, won’t-he storyline developing for some time over the possibility that outspoken middleweight fighter Chael Sonnen will attend this weekend’s UFC 134 event in Brazil given that he’s become public enemy No.1 over there for his below-the-belt comments about both the country and it’s fighters.
Despite insinuating that Brazil was a nation of thieves and muggers and that they are not technologically advanced enough to have access to the internet among other tongue-in-cheek remarks, Sonnen had intended to show up at the HSBC Arena in Rio to corner main event fighter Yushin Okami who he’s helped train in preparation for his title fight with Anderson Silva.
It seems however that outside forces have conspired to keep him away from the show.
According to MMAJunkie one of Okami’s main sponsors, ‘Praetorian’ threatened to pull their support of the Japanese fighter if he showed up with Sonnen on Saturday night.
Meanwhile Sonnen has also claimed that he’s received word that police officials have vowed to arrest him if he attends, claiming that his remarks have broken national identity laws.
All of which appears to have brought Sonnen to the conclusion that it would be better of for all concerned if he steered clear of the event altogether.
“This fight isn’t about me. I’m not involved,” Sonnen told MMAjunkie. “I’m here to lend you support. But I don’t want things thrown at what will unintentionally be him while he’s in the ring or we’re going to the ring.
In all honesty I’m relieved to hear that Sonnen won’t be showing face in Rio as no good can come of it. The UFC has a lot riding on this event with 40 million Brazilian’s expected to be watching on TV, and talk of the promotion targeting a 100,000 seater stadium for their next visit to the country.
With that in mind they would do well to steer away from the kind of controversy that Sonnen brings, and the potential risk that fans may look to do more than just throw verbal abuse back at him in retaliation for his remarks which have often crossed the line from being humorous to simply being racist and xenophobic.