Chael Sonnen suggested that he might have found out that he was involved in Bellator’s heavyweight tournament when the promotion released the poster for the competition last week.
In an appearance on the latest episode of The MMA Hour, the former UFC middleweight contender claimed he couldn’t remember if Bellator CEO Scott Coker or the promotion’s matchmaker, Mike Kogan, had ever spoke to him about it.
“I don’t know if I was ever offered a spot in this tournament,” Sonnen told Ariel Helwani.
“I can’t remember if (Scott) Coker or (Mike) Kogan ever called and said, ‘Do you want in the heavyweight tournament?’ I think that might have happened, but I might have found out about it when the poster came out.
“I never knew there was for a heavyweight championship – I don’t think it was explained to anybody. I don’t talk to a whole bunch of the guys, but I don’t know if anybody knew this was for the championship and this is how they were going to settle it.
“They have been saying for a long time, ‘Why doesn’t the heavyweight division have a belt?’ Coker has been saying, ‘we’re getting to it’. I don’t know if anyone knew that was going to be the prize at the end of the rainbow if you entered this thing.”
Later, Sonnen stated that he did not think it was necessary for Bellator to inform the fighters that they had been selected to compete in the tournament.
“I don’t know if anyone knew and I don’t know if they had to. I mean, we’re all under contract, who gives a damn? They can do it any way they want. Tell us a date and an opponent,” he said.
Sonnen went on to discuss the difference between his reaction to being included in the tournament compared to Matt Mitrione’s, who was thought to have solidified himself as the top dog in the bracket with his first-round win over Fedor Emelianenko.
“Matt Mitrione is probably looking at this like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Sonnen said.
“He’s the number one contender for the heavyweight class. He’s been around and he’s got the wins over the right guys and he’s probably going, ‘I’m one fight away from the belt and now you’re telling me I gotta do three fights to be the champion?’
“You put me in there, I never even thought about being a heavyweight. Now I’ve only got to win three and I could be the heavyweight champion.
“It’s a different perspective for people like me. For me, it’s a big opportunity. I imagine for Mitrione it’s like, ‘Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me. I’m the top contender and now I’ve got to go through three guys.’”
On last week’s edition of the The MMA Hour, MMA Fighting’s Helwani suggested that he heard that Sonnen was being matched with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the first round of the tournament. Sonnen insisted he had yet to hear who he would fight in the opening round, though it has since been confirmed that he will indeed face Jackson.
“I don’t have any announcement on that,” he said, prior to the matchups becoming official.
“Rampage has said that he doesn’t want to fight Fedor. I know they don’t want to put him and Mo together again and him and Bader have already fought.
“The numbers start lessening for who his opponent is, maybe that’s how I even got inserted in that. I have no idea of my opponent, so I guess we’re just waiting.”