UFC star Chael Sonnen has a ton of respect for fighters who helped pave the road for his present day success. However, he doesn’t feel as though any of MMA’s forefathers had it as tough as the contestants do on the Ultimate Fighter.
The light heavyweight title-contender has become intimately familiar with the reality franchise as a coach on TUF 17, a process in which Sonnen has gained a new level of appreciation for the sacrifices the show’s competitors make in order to pursue their dream.
“When you see the guys that don’t get into the house – when you see the black belts and the champions and the veterans and the flat-out studs with very incredible resumes that did not get into the house – that’s when you’re going to understand how loaded this bracket is. The #1 thing that I’m going to do is we’re going to change the narrative of this show. This is not a frat show, and it is not a reality show. I don’t know how those terms ever got coined. This is a tournament, period.”
“All the way back to the greats – Royce Gracie and Dan Severn and Ken ‘Never Should Have Been in the Octagon in the First Place’ Shamrock – they never went through anything like this. Those guys did a great job. Those guys got me in the sport, the Don Fryes and the ‘Tank’ Abbotts – the real fighters. But it’s nothing like a 32-man tournament. It’s nothing like having to make weight five times, fight five times, have no preparation, not have your coach, not have your team, not sleeping in your own bed – and be expected to win anyway. It’s nothing like that.”
“Somewhere, somebody called this a reality show, and I just don’t get it. So is the Super Bowl. It’s reality, and it’s a show, but I don’t get it. This is real. This is the realest tournament ever. We have a guy that lost his job for taking this opportunity. He’s got a wife and kid, and if he doesn’t win this, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen to him. I could name a few of those stories like that. The sacrifice that these guys are going through to put it all on the line, it’s humbling.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC