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Talk before the storm for UFC's Chael Sonnen in Burbank

Mixed martial arts: Sonnen pays a visit to local eatery and discuses big bout with champ Silva.

July 02, 2012|By Grant Gordon,

BURBANK — Just five days in front of what many prognosticate will be the biggest Ultimate Fighting Championship event of the year, Chael Sonnen — the No. 1 contender to champion Anderson Silva's UFC middleweight title at Saturday night's UFC 148 in Las Vegas — touched down in Burbank.

Regarded for his superior wrestling and ground-and-pound skills inside the cage as much as his ability to talk the talk outside of it, Sonnen, seated next to girlfriend Brittany Smith, tipped his chair back and held court among a gathering of print, Internet and television media on Monday afternoon at Morton's The Steakhouse.

"Everything. It's everything," said Sonnen when asked about the magnitude of Saturday's title rematch against Silva, ranked by most as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. "This whole process since I was 9 years old will be a colossal failure if I don't win the championship."


Sonnen (27-11-1) previously fell against Silva (31-4) when the two tangled in August of 2011. Silva has won 15 consecutive fights, 14 of them inside the caged confines of the UFC and 13 of them with the middleweight crown on the line. However, during a run characterized by knockout dominance, Silva was dominated by Sonnen for four-plus rounds in their first meeting before Sonnen was caught in a triangle armbar that forced the tapout.

Before that bout and since, Sonnen has drawn headlines, notoriety and driven ticket sales due in large part to his gift of gab. Thus, with Brazil's Silva usually speaking through a interpreter and making considerably less media appearances, Sonnen has made quite a few media appearances, such as Monday's, in the build-up for Saturday's bout.

"[I do] the full share," Sonnen said. "I'm expected to do that stuff. I'm the biggest draw in the UFC. It goes [UFC welterweight champion Georges] St. Pierre and then it goes me. Georges is out right now, so I'm the man. I welcome that, it's the spot I wanted. But it comes with — I don't want to use the word burden, cause it's not, I enjoy talking to you guys, I'm happy to be here — but it comes with a lot of work."

As for why Sonnen is such a big draw?

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