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Chael Sonnen Believes He Can Out Coach Jon Jones

December 20, 2012 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris

MMAjunkie spoke with UFC fighter and top light heavyweight title contender Chael Sonnen, (27-12-1, MMA; 6-4, UFC) about his coaching gig on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Here are the highlights:

Where he believes his success as a coach on the show will come from: “As a coach, the first thing you’ve got to do is be very humble because I’m not going to be able to do very much. What I can do is I can create an environment. I can create a positive environment that they look forward to going to. I can encourage, I can motivate, and I can inspire. And there’s nothing that a coach can do that’s more important than motivating – far in front of technique or knowledge is motivation, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to create a positive environment where when they get out of bed in the morning, they look forward to coming to the gym, which is very rare. That’s very hard to do, but we’re going to do it. We’re going to make sure they’re rested. We’re going to make sure they’re on weight, and we have top coaches.”

How he was initially reluctant to accept the coaching job on the show and relocate to Las Vegas: “When you get asked to do something, you try to say yes, and you try to never complain, but it is an inconvenience. That was my mindset when I came out here (to Las Vegas). I had a 20-hour drive. I had my dog and both my cats in the truck with me, driving here from Oregon, and I had a little chip on my shoulder. I didn’t want to come out here and do it, but I got humbled real fast when I heard some of these tales, when I heard some of these guys that are sleeping in their cars. I forgot what those days are like. I went through that stuff, too, where you’re scraping and clawing to chase a dream that everybody is telling you that you need to give up on. You quickly learn that this isn’t about Jon or Dana or the UFC or a pay-per-view. This is about guys that are risking everything to enter the toughest tournament in sports.”

Sonnen on what it takes to win the show: “Physically, the best athlete seldom wins the show. The guys that we all think, ‘Hey, that’s the guy to watch,’ he very seldomly comes out because the mental side is going to kick in and the grind and the wear. That’s where you have to dig deep and go, ‘How bad do I really want this?’ All of them will ask themselves that, and all of them will question themselves, but one of them will handle that and deal with that a little bit less. It’s kind of like pain tolerance. We all feel the same amount of pain, but some people think like fighters or top-level athletes don’t feel pain. Well it’s not true. We all, as humans, feel pain about the same, but we react to it differently. Somebody is going to make a choice: success or failure. And that’s the guy that’s going to win this thing. The physical side we all know. We all get that as fans or competitors. But when you understand how greatly taken out of their comfort zone they are, when you understand how inconvenienced these gentlemen are – their sleep is messed with. You’ve always got a jerk. In any situation you’ve got a jerk. In any situation you’ve got a night-owl. In any situation you’ve got early-risers. Then you start messing with a guy’s sleep. I mean that’s military strategy. That’s top-level training to try and break somebody and see how tough they are. It’s not by design, but that’s the reality. These guys are completely inconvenienced. And this is a huge thing that’s never been talked about: the weight-cut. They have to be ready to make weight two times a week. Essentially, you’re cutting weight constantly. It’s the only way you can be within striking range to do it if your name comes out of that hat. It’s incredible. The stress levels, the work levels, the things that Jon and I will go through to fight are incredible. They’re almost insurmountable. They’re so large. They are nothing like having the potential to have to fight him tomorrow and not know until later today. They’re nothing like having to get on that scale in a matter of hours and not knowing about it until they call you. I’ve never seen a tournament like this.”

Sonnen’s thoughts on his coaching being better than Jon Jones':“Look, I can out-coach [Jones], and that’s not a sleight at him. Coaching is a skill. You’re not born to coach, and I feel like he was kind of born to fight. I feel like, man, that guy can just do this sport. He just knows how to play. He just knows what to do. Coaching, nobody is born into. It’s a developed skill. I’ve been at it 11 years.”

Sonnen’s thoughts on participating in TUF as opposed to watching it on TV: “I’ve watched every season (of ‘TUF’), but from my living room, I didn’t get it. It looks like these guys are having fun. That’s how this edited. They get in there, they fight a little bit. There’s so much more to it, and there’s so much more on the line. The way something gets televised when you only have an hour is the way it gets televised, but when you’re looking from our perspective, and you see the risk that’s being taken for the reward that is potentially there, it changes you. In 2013, look, I’ve got one big event on my mind: the biggest fight in UFC history, Sonnen vs. Jones in New Jersey. You’re going to hear all about it, but you’re not going to hear about it right now. ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is coming to FX on a brand new night starting in January. That’s all you need to know.”


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Jeffrey Harris
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