Walking into Viacom’s world headquarters on Tuesday, Chael Sonnen was reserved and respectful towards his opponent Lyoto Machida, as the two will headline Bellator’s return to Madison Square Garden this June.
Sonnen told those in attendance for the Bellator 222 announcement, that he will refuse to “manufacture controversy” for the light heavyweight showdown on June 14th but is looking to get a measure of revenge for teammates Randy Couture and Dan Henderson, who were defeated by Machida during their UFC careers.
“I think it’s a fight that needed to happen,” Sonnen told FIGHT SPORTS following the press conference. “The first time I was offered this fight was in 2011, I’ve had my eye on this guy for a long time. I admire his style in many ways, it’s not one that I can do. I would encourage other guys to copy him… I wanna beat him.”
Machida is looking to stay active in his Bellator career, fighting at not only light heavyweight, but also at middleweight. When asked if constantly pinging between 185 and 205 pounds would take a toll on Machida, Sonnen was unsure.
“I’d be curious with his experience (with weight cutting/different weight classes), we didn’t have weigh-ins when I started in this sport. There was no weight classes, there was no weigh-in,” Sonnen explained about late 90’s MMA.
“I had my fifth or sixth fight before I even saw a scale, they didn’t even bring one out, the relevance being that it’s kinda a new phenomenon for the prima donnas that are in the sport today. Not for the real tough guys who got into the sport in the ’90’s like I did, like (Machida) did. They can do a weight, not do a weight, it doesn’t make a difference to me. I’ll do whatever the commission says, but if they don’t want to do a weigh-in at all, we don’t have to weigh-in.”
“(Fighters) move around weight classes all the time,” Sonnen continued about different sports such as boxing.
“I’m correct to tell you that they constantly changed weights… All the big names, Leonard, Duran, Hearns, Hagler… none of those guys stayed in one weight class. In combat you find the guy you want to fight, you make the agreed upon weight, and then you fight. The prima donnas today, it’s not like they don’t want to change weight classes, they just don’t want to fight certain guys, they’re not real tough guys. And If you want to hang your hat on this ‘well, the weights are different argument’ it’s just a way to get out of a fight.”