Even before McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) was known, Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) was an expert in fight promotion, using his words outside the cage to build anticipation for when he stepped inside it. Sonnen still does it as well as anyone, but he said neither he nor McGregor should receive praise as those who brought that style to the forefront.
From Sonnen’s perspective, there’s a true “original” in that category, and it’s Bellator 192 opponent Quinton Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), who he meets in the opening round of the Bellator heavyweight grand prix tournament next week.
“I get asked all the time, ‘Whose the better talker, you or Conor McGregor?’” Sonnen said on Wednesday’s Bellator 192 media call. “I’m happy to answer it, but you’re leaving one guy out: You’re leaving out ‘Rampage.’ That’s the original guy to bring out charisma.
“I can’t tell you how many times I was in my living room with a bunch of friends watching a pay-per-view, we’d all watch the fights and the party would be going on, and as soon as it was done everybody would shush everybody so we could hear what ‘Rampage’ had to say.”
Bellator 192 takes place Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Sonnen vs. Jackson co-headlines the main card, which airs on Paramount following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.
Sonnen and Jackson are both longstanding participants in the sport. Sonnen made his professional debut in May 1997, while “Rampage” had his first documented contest in November 1999. They have circled each other in the same organization many times before, and even came close to matching up at UFC 130 in May 2011.
Given their personas, there was a chance the build for a fight between Sonnen and Jackson would be heated and unpredictable. It’s been quite the opposite, though, with both men keeping cool heads and showing a great deal of respect toward one another.
Whether he likes Jackson or not, though, Sonnen said his mission on fight night doesn’t change. His goal is to claim the vacant Bellator heavyweight title by winning the tournament, and Jackson is one of three men he must beat en route to doing that.
Just like the majority of his fights, Sonnen knows his takedown and wrestling game will be a deciding factor when he steps in the cage with Jackson. His plan is to ground the former UFC light heavyweight champion as often as possible over 15 minutes, and he knows if he can’t do that, it could be a rough night.
“I do agree with ‘Rampage.’ I’ve got to take him down; he’s got to stand up,” Sonnen said. “I got one way to win, which is to be on top of him and annoy him for 15 minutes. He’s got one way to win, which is to put me to sleep. I’ve taken a lot of people down, (and) he’s put a lot of people to sleep. This one isn’t rocket science.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Chael Sonnen lauds 'Rampage' Jackson as 'original guy to bring out charisma' in MMA