After former UFC light heavyweight Chael Sonnen was suspended for two years by the Nevada Athletic Commission in July for testing positive for multiple banned substances, Sonnen is enjoying the opportunity to be honest.
After explaining how he knew he was cheating on another podcast, Sonnen did another candid interview with Jason Bryant of the Short Time Wrestling Podcast and discussed his heel personna and how it began in 2011 after he pled guilty to a money laundering charge while also testing positive for elevated testosterone levels after his loss to Anderson Silva.
“I got hit with a PED charge and a criminal charge in the same month,” said Sonnen. “The whole ‘silly me’ defense is a pretty good one. When you go, ‘Listen, I didn’t know. I didn’t know the rules.’ That works. That’s a good, solid defense. One time. I needed it twice in the same month. So I just knew I was beat. As far as a PR standpoint goes, this is a disaster. Anybody in politics will tell you that when there’s a problem you steer into it, so I came out of that mess and I just came out and said, ‘Yea, I’m a gangster. This is the life. This is what gangsters do.’
“Before I knew it they were making t-shirts that said ‘American Gangster’ on it. It became the No. 2 selling t-shirt of all time for Tapout. People just started going into it. I just kept going with it, too. ‘This is nothing. These are just the things I was caught for. You should hear what I got away with.’ I started going really hard into it. Yea, it was a lot of fun and it did turn it around.”
Sonnen then laid out his plan to turn into the bad guy.
“Whenever you can evoke a strong emotion and want somebody to tune in, whether it’s to see you win or get beat up, and I’ve been on both sides of that, it’s a win,” said Sonnen. “What you don’t want is for somebody to not care. Whenever they have no feeling at all, that’s bad. Even if they kind of like you or they kind of don’t, that’s also bad. It’s got to be a strong emotion one way or the other.
“For me, I prefer to be the heel. I just have always preferred to incite them and make them angry. I had death threats in Brazil, but if you’re a heel, this is a major win. What’s stronger than that? It’s always fun for me. One thing I picked up on was that nobody else wanted that. If you’re up there competing for popularity, well, everybody wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be patted on the back. Now you’re competing with everybody. If you go to the other end of the pool, you can have the water all to yourself. I became the biggest heel in MMA and possibly in sports kind of by just swimming down there and saying, ‘Well, I want to be down here.’ If I could do it over again, I’d definitely chose the same route. I might have laid it on a bit thicker at times but I would never go back.”
Tags: Chael Sonnen, Mixed Martial Arts