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wandshogun09

Chael Sonnen vs Luke Thomas

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Anyone been following this?

No, Rizin haven’t booked their New Years main event. It’s Youtube beef. But it could be fun to see how this plays out as some interesting points have been raised out of this. 

It started with Chael’s recent retirement. Luke Thomas, like any MMA media do when a big name fighter hangs up the gloves, gave a bit of a retrospective view of old Chael’s career. Not word for word but he basically summed Chael up as ‘good but not great’. Well, that seemed to annoy Mr Sonnen; 

Pretty standard stuff from Chael. Always entertaining to listen to but there’s always a generous garnishing of shite sprinkled throughout his ramblings. Not really sure why he took offence to what Luke said about him but Chael’s always gonna Chael. 

I expected some response from Luke Thomas but didn’t quite expect Luke to shoot as straight as he did. Here’s his rebuttal; 

I love that the video starts with the beat from the Nas song ‘Ether’, from when the Nas vs Jay-Z hip hop battle was at its peak 😂

Of all the MMA media members Chael could’ve picked a fight with, I think Thomas is one of the worst he could’ve chosen. As much as we all love him, Chael’s a renowned bullshitter and his claims and declarations really don’t stand up to the scrutiny of a Luke Thomas who will fact check the fuck out of everything and pull your argument apart at every sentence. He’s like a poster on here who will debate you to the point of quoting you line by line.

The stuff at the end on Chael always taking the promoters side on stuff like fighter pay, the Reebok deal, a union etc is spot on as well and I loved the bit when he says Chael has taken to ”adopting Dana White’s world viewpoints and then laundering it with charisma.” 

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It’ll be interesting to hear Chael’s response to this. You know there’ll be one. 

So yeah, I’ve created this thread with this debate in mind but really, it could spin off in a few directions. A few of you gave Luke Thomas some love in another thread earlier plus we never really talked much about Chael’s retirement, did we? Where would you rank Chael’s career? What was his legacy? Good vs Great? MMA’s Lance Armstrong? Top 10 middleweight of all time, just a guy who benefitted from PEDs and a quick wit or somewhere in between? Whose argument do you side with - Chael vs Luke? Have at it. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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Aye, I have been following this a bit. Although I haven't listened to Thomas' latest response in full.

 I put forth my opinion on Chael's career in the Bellator thread:

Quote

Jordan Breen has described Sonnen as a "never-was", who created his trash-talking persona to compensate for his weaknesses as a fighter. Harsh? A bit, but there is some validity to Breen's opinion. Sonnen has come up short in his career far more often than not. His best wins are a razor-thin decision victory over Bisping, a decision win over a weight-drained Filho, and a submission win against Shogun. By contrast, he choked twice against Silva, got destroyed by Jones, lost to ancient versions of Fedor and Tito, and was taken apart by prime versions of Sobral and Maia. There is always a chance that he will be able to lay and pray against Machida and eek out a decision. He was able to do that against a spent version of Wanderlei and a disinterested version of Rampage. But I think the most likely outcome is that Machida catches him at some point and finishes him. 

I did miss out his wins over Okami and Marquardt, Both of which were decent wins (as Chael mentioned). Chael's belief that he would have been champion from the late 90s up until 2008 with the skillset he has today is questionable. Could he have really beaten Bustamante, Lindland, Franklin and Hendo? I would certainly fancy Bustamante to submit him. I could also see Lindland out-wrestling him. 

In short, he was a perennial contender who evolved into a novelty fighter. I wouldn't argue if someone rated him in the top 10 Middleweights of all-time. But I certainly wouldn't say he was an all-time great MMA fighter. An all-time great MMA personality? Sure, he was the most entertaining figure in the game for a time. Although, his act had grown stale by 2013. Helwani has recently claimed that Sonnen debuted his trash-talking persona in 2009. However, It gets forgotten than Chael tried similar tactics in the mid-2000s in an attempt to drum up interest in his career, which almost led to him getting his head kicked in by Bas Rutten.

Did he benefit from PEDs? Yeah probably, but they were a part of his era. Well-placed journalists estimated in the early 2010s that around 70-80% of MMA fighters were on PEDs. Schaub (yes, I know), recently made the point that Sonnen's most notable opponents, sans Brian Stann, were probably on PEDs when they fought Sonnen. The only difference was that Sonnen was daft enough to get caught (or perhaps went a step too far). 

He does come across as a nice enough person though. He clearly has his shortcomings (money laundering, inappropriate comments, etc). But quite a few have told of genuine acts of kindness he has committed. He also does come across as a genuine person when he stops trolling and bullshitting (see the interview with Helwani after the Machida fight). 

Nevertheless, Thomas > Sonnen

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That’s another thing, even if he was in that title mix in the mid 2000s, he was buddies and teammates with both Henderson (Pride top contender/champ at the time) and Lindland (UFC top contender/champ at the time). I don’t think he’d have fought either man back then much less beat them. Sonnen vs Franklin could’ve been decent though. Back then and even later on towards the end of Franklin’s career. 

I’d add Bisping and Rashad alongside Stann to the ‘probably weren’t juicing’ list of Chael’s opponents. But I agree with your point. I don’t really hold the PED thing massively against anyone from that era as that was the lay of the land back then (well, even more than now). 

I loved Chael for a time too. And that initial buildup and first fight with Anderson was amazing. The gradual rise through the division beating Okami when he wasn’t supposed to, then beating Marquardt when he wasn’t supposed to and starting to really attack Anderson in interviews. Then Anderson goes and stinks the place out with that Maia farce in Abu Dhabi and Chael goes all ‘Hey Dana, you need someone to make that cunt fight. I’LL make him fight’. Then the way the fight played out on the night. It was perfect. He’d kind of jumped the shark by the time he got in the cage with Jon Jones for me but on the whole, MMA was more fun for having Chael around. 

But he’s lost this opening round against Luke Thomas 10-8 for me.

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Ahhh, I should have mentioned Bisping. Perhaps Rashad as well. 

I've listened to Thomas' response now. Aye, he gave Chael a right caning there. An issue with Chael's Youtube channel is that he often only tells you half the story in his videos. He'll tell you that Bas Rutten wanted to kill him over comments he made. However, he won't tell you exactly what he said to piss Bas off (he said Bas wasn't a legend of the sport)

This was why it was so easy for Thomas to respond to him. Some of the stuff that Chael said about Filho was somewhat accurate. But he purposefully left out other information that Thomas could pick him up on. Would it really have been difficult for Chael to mention that Filho submitted him in their first fight? And did he really think that Thomas was oblivious to Filho's issues going into the rematch? 

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Chael Sonnen is a fairly intelligent guy, he's witty, entertaining, interesting to listen to and a good storyteller. However the same man would struggle to tell the truth if his cock was on fire. I'm on the Thomas train all the way here. Chael is spouting nonsense, as he usually does. There may be slithers of sense and truth in things he says but it's often outweighed by so much bollocks that it discredits him completely.

Thomas takes seriously the information he puts out there, what's fact, opinion or conjecture and paints it as such, and fact checks as if it's his favourite hobby. Sonnen is just rambling whatever comes into his head for views and attention. Whether that's on purpose, or he doesn't remember, or doesn't care to remember, I'm not sure. I've tried listening to Sonnen's podcast a few times as he is fun to listen to. I don't keep it up for very long. There's only so much shite talk I can take before I can't take anymore, unintentional or not. 

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Jesus Chael should have took Luke's 1st compliment as he was being very generous imo, to say he was the next step down from world class is above what I'd rank him at. I loved him during the whole Silva feud for his schtick etc but I'd just class him as middle of the road really. Not watched any of his Bellator fights but they were all just against past their peak fighter ( which he was as well )

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4 hours ago, jimufctna24 said:

He does come across as a nice enough person though. He clearly has his shortcomings (money laundering, inappropriate comments, etc). But quite a few have told of genuine acts of kindness he has committed. He also does come across as a genuine person when he stops trolling and bullshitting (see the interview with Helwani after the Machida fight). 

That's the thing for me - regardless of individual acts of kindness, I don't think he's a particularly nice person. Guy's a fucking yellow-dog Republican, which is why he always backs the promoter as Thomas says. Guys like him are always going to be on the side of the employer, siding against their fellow worker, because they think they're going to be allowed into that rich boys' club one day too, so they have to get their words of support in there. Typical "American Dream" prick - "I'm not an ordinary person like these schlubs, I'm a temporarily-disadvantaged millionaire." Almost as bad as working-class Tories.

EDIT: BTW that video has me sold on Thomas. I'm not really one to consume MMA media outside the fight shows, as it would be yet another thing to keep up with amongst a host of other things (I just want to do all of the things), but if I was going to choose a regular MMA broadcaster to follow, it would have to be Luke Thomas - anyone who speaks up against the establishment like that deserves support. Plus, he's bloody good - I like his manner.

Edited by Carbomb

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I've not always been a fan of Chael's schtick, but I think he's right. He was literally one triangle armbar and less than two minutes away from doing the unthinkable, and for me he's definitely a great fighter. Not elite level, but he's far better than just a good fighter.

He was the first guy who made Anderson Silva look human during his UFC run, and I know there's all manner of excuses as to why it happened, but the fact is that it did happen. 

Yushin Okami is a good fighter, Jim Miller is a good fighter, Derrick Lewis is a good fighter. Chael Sonnen is a level above those guys.

If Chael Sonnen is just a "good fighter" then there's a lot of good fighters who should be regarded as bang average, including the three mentioned above, and I can't agree with that.

And for what it's worth, I agree that a lot of media types don't like the fact that he's switched seamlessly into their world to a certain degree. Luke Thomas is a great (not just good) reporter, and he knows it. You don't think he believes it should be him who's getting those slots that Helwani gets? Of course he does.

Sonnen rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but that shouldn't be allowed to get in the way of his accomplishments. No one says you need to like the guy, but he deserves his props, and those props don't include calling him a good fighter. 

Edited by David

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Oh, certainly - I'd say he was a great fighter too. To a certain degree (and I'm happy to be corrected), I'd say he was of a similar level to Bisping - great at selling fights, overall a good fighter but not elite, ground his way up instead of storming up the rankings, and was more Gatekeeper To The Champ standard than actual champion standard (which is one of the reasons I was so made up for Bisping when he finally won it). Of course, they diverge with the PED usage thing.

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I'm always kinder to fighters who didn't use PEDs. You can never know for sure. But you hear whispers about specific fighters being clean. Key examples being Hendo in Pride, Big Nog in Pride, BJ Penn up until a certain point, Moose, etc. By contrast, others were probably propped up by excessive PED use and lax testing. 

That is why I rate Bisping above Sonnen. There is little doubt in my mind that Bisping was always a clean fighter. When Bisping fought Chael in 2012, it was an exceptionally close fight. Neither outright established themselves as the better fighter. That makes Bisping look great in my opinion, given that Chael was probably on all sorts. 

The great vs good argument reduces the argument to semantics. What makes for a good fighter? What makes for a great fighter? Overall, Chael shouldn't be remembered alongside the all-time greats. And perhaps fighters who fall in the tier below. However, he also shouldn't be placed alongside journeymen and defined as an also-ran. He's somewhere in the middle. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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8 minutes ago, jimufctna24 said:

He's somewhere in the middle. 

Stop nicking @David's gimmick

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18 minutes ago, jimufctna24 said:

That is why I rate Bisping above Sonnen. There is little doubt in my mind that Bisping was always a clean fighter. When Bisping fought Chael in 2012, it was an exceptionally close fight. Neither outright established themselves as the better fighter. That makes Bisping look great in my opinon, given that Chael was probably on all sorts.

I'd be a bit wary of heading into "probably" territory, because at that point it drifts further away from the facts than ever. I don't think Chael tested positive for anything following the Bisping fight, so the record states that he was clean as per the rules of the commission they fought under. There was pretty much a cigarette paper between Bisping and Chael in that fight, although I had no issues with Chael getting the nod. 

For me, Bisping is also a great fighter. The main difference between him and Sonnen is that Bisping won his crack at the title, while Sonnen didn't. 

22 minutes ago, jimufctna24 said:

The great vs good argument reduces the argument to semantics. What makes for a good fighter? What makes for a great fighter? Overall, Chael shouldn't be remembered alongside the all-time greats. And perhaps fighters who fall in the tier below. However, he also shouldn't be placed alongside journeymen and defined as an also-ran. He's somewhere in the middle. 

For me, the "all-time greats" are the elite of the sport. The elite fighters stand at the top of the pile and include the likes of GSP, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, Dan Henderson and so on.

Then you've got the guys who were either fleeting champions, were literally a ballhair away from winning a title, fighters who have had long and storied careers spanning numerous generations and also great fighters who still have time to become elites. I'd chuck the likes of Bisping, Sonnen, Wanderlei, Stipe, Gustafsson, Rockhold, Weidman etc in this category. These guys are the great fighters.

Below that you have the fighters who were not quite good enough to really make a dent in their division for any length of time. Always decent enough and competitive against the great fighters, but just not quite good enough. Your Jim Millers, Yushin Okami's, Mark Hunt's,  and so on.

 

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38 minutes ago, David said:

I'd be a bit wary of heading into "probably" territory, because at that point it drifts further away from the facts than ever. I don't think Chael tested positive for anything following the Bisping fight, so the record states that he was clean as per the rules of the commission they fought under. There was pretty much a cigarette paper between Bisping and Chael in that fight, although I had no issues with Chael getting the nod. 

For me, Bisping is also a great fighter. The main difference between him and Sonnen is that Bisping won his crack at the title, while Sonnen didn't. 

Aye, he didn't test positive for banned substances after the Bisping fight. I can accept that it's merely speculation that he was using EPO, HGH, etc around that period. We do know, however, that he was using TRT when he fought Bisping. I get that TRT exemptions were legal up until 2014. So, in essence, Chael didn't break any rules. Nevertheless, it should not be ignored that TRT did give its users an artificial advantage over clean fighters. 

Bisping:

Quote

If people's testosterone levels can be 10 times higher than what it normally is, of course that's going to give you an edge. Like this morning, my body was sore because I've been training real hard, and my body just can't do it. So I planned that today I'd take the morning off and do nothing, because I need to. Perhaps if I was taking testosterone or whatever medicine these guys took, I wouldn't need to have taken this morning off. I would have recovered better and had more muscle mass and hit harder and run faster. Those things all help.

 

Edited by jimufctna24

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Yeah, but we can't penalise guys for fighting within the rules, can we? And we can't penalise them because they may have been on something. 

Chael beat Bisping fair & square, under the rules of the Commission at the time.

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3 minutes ago, David said:

Yeah, but we can't penalise guys for fighting within the rules, can we? And we can't penalise them because they may have been on something. 

Chael beat Bisping fair & square, under the rules of the Commission at the time.

We can, if we're talking about a subjective discussion of whom people believe to be great or good. We're just talking about opinions, rather than actual criteria via which to judge, say, an entry into the Hall of Fame or something similar. 

But I agree it's pretty murky. I find Thomas' viewpoint interesting - that PED usage probably shouldn't matter, because other guys were most likely on it at the time. We could take the view that Sonnen, like athletes who take supplements or utilise methods that skirt the rules without breaking them, made full use of something that was legally allowed at the time to give him an edge; hell, people are allowed to use creatine, and that messes with body chemistry too.

That said, such a view might be seen as penalising a clean fighter like Bisping for his integrity, and that's where it gets a bit murky.

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