Chael Sonnen has criticized rising heavyweight star Tom Aspinall for failing to promote himself effectively when he’s on the mic, and even went as far as to suggest he should get someone to do the talking for him.
“He comes out and does an interview — I can’t remember what was said, I was disgusted, I ended up shutting the page — talking about, ‘Who wouldn’t want to see Ngannou box? Ngannou’s just a great boxer,’” Sonnen said on his Beyond The Fight show. “He went on from there, put some other people over. He’s a legitimate fan. I do understand that in all fairness and he does come off as a very sweet guy, that is true. Tom actually is coming off like a really nice guy, I must tell the other side of the coin.
“I can’t put him back in a main event. I can’t put him in a title shot. I can’t put him in anything that he says he doesn’t belong in. Nobody can.”
Aspinall has since responded and made it clear that he has no intention of following through with Sonnen’s advice.
“I’m more than happy being myself thanks and not selling myself out and acting like a [clown] for views and money,” Aspinall responded. “I am not a WWE entertainer I’m one of the greatest heavyweights to walk on this [Earth] and it will be shown in my body of work from my UFC debut until I retire in 10 years. I don’t need to talk s***. Happy to be myself.”
Sonnen speaks from experience as he became a big star in the UFC thanks to his willingness to be the ‘bad guy’ with his larger-than-life, outspoken and often tongue-in-cheek personality, but on the other hand it’s worth pointing out that Georges St-Pierre was the complete opposite, being the very personification of a ‘nice guy’ who had nothing bad to say about anyone, yet was still one of the biggest pay-per-view draws of his generation.
For now Aspinall’s authentic personality seems to be playing well with fans, and while time will tell whether that can translate into being a pay-per-view draw, for now the UFC seems to have no qualms about putting him in the main event spot, having just come off a first round TKO win over Alexander Volkov in a headliner a few months ago, and now being booked up to front another upcoming UFC: London event against Curtis Blaydes in July.