Host Dustin Green is back with the second installment in his three-part series featuring UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen. In this portion of the interview, Sonnen opens up about ring rust, getting back into the swing of things in the training room, overcoming obstacles and red tape, where all the innovation in training is coming from (hint: not the professionals) and the loyalty shown to him by Zuffa and the Zuffa brass during this difficult past year.
It's a different side of Chael Sonnen. Certainly one with some humility and without pomposity.
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22 secs, on training aft a long layoff: "Well, I feel like I'm relearning how to do everything. I feel like I'm re-remembering the soreness and the pains and the tiredness and the exhaustion...just everything that goes in with preparing for a competition. What do we do, about 3 matches a year? Four sometimes if you're lucky? And I've had none for a year. That's not a horribly long time, but it is enough. It's just enough time to kinda forget some of the small stuff and to come back and remember it. So, I'm a little out of step."
1:15, on whether he's focusing on anything specific in this camp or just getting back into the swing of things: "Get back into the swing of things. As far as preparing, I'm not satisfied anywhere. There's no spot in the octagon where I'm comfortable. I've never been out there and thought 'Oh, ok good we're safe,' or 'Ok, good. I'm finally where I wanna be.' I've never been comfortable in there and I wanna be. I wanna be able to relax a little bit more. I wanna be able to just be a little more comfortable, be a little more confident with something. And I'm not. I'm still learning. I'm constantly learning. And I'm learning from people you wouldn't think you'd learn from. I learn more from the amatuer group than I am from anybody. All the new stuff is coming out of the young guys. All the new stuff is coming out of the 17, 18, 19 year-olds on accident. They're stumbling into something. I took a cooking class when I was in high school and one of the main things I learned was you can never screw up a recipe, you can only create something new. If you put to much of something in your chocolate chips, you didn't screw up the chocolate chips, you just created an extra-chocolate chocolate chip. And I find these amateur guys stumbling into success on accident. Well now wait a minute. What'd you just do there? They usually don't know, so you sitdown and try to figure out and all the sudden there's a new technique. That's what I'm doing, I'm open to everything."
2:50, on using training/fighting as a sanctuary after having such a difficult year: "I'll tell you, the last year was tough, but so was the one before that, so was the one before that, so were the ones before that. I put myself in those positions. I deal with politics. I'm in this all the time. I am constantly in red tape. I've never been a well enough known guy that that made headlines. I've never been a well enough known guy that when you stub your toe, it makes the front page news. I had a lot of people come to me ad throw and arm around me and go 'Man, I really think you were mistreated.' Listen, just deal with it ad move on. There's plenty of things that I'm thankful for that I'm not gonna sit around and dwell on some things that I'd rather not be dealing with. That's the life I chose. This next year is gonna be tough and so will the one after that. I'm looking for fights. Whether it's in government, whether its with the school boards, whether its with the local community, I'm constantly looking to improve things. I don't mean I'm looking for conflict when I say I'm looking for fights, but, you're gonna end up in red tape. And that's just gonna happen. If you can't get through that, then you can't survive as a man. You can't survive as a leader of a community or a leader of a town. You gotta be able to handle that stuff and move on. I didn't just deal with that stuff you heard about. I had other stuff going on too, but that's just life. That's just the way t goes. I'm very grateful for far more things than I'm displeased with. I've had a lot of neat opportunities and I got a great company - Zuffa. I got a great boss - Dana White. I'm humbled by their generosity and by their loyalty to me. They didn't have to do that, but you find out who your friends are when things like this happen. They never blinked. They never blinked once. They told me from the beginning 'We're with you,' and they meant it."