If there was one fighter who could give Sonnen a whole new set of problems, it would be Machida, which is something Sonnen has thought since the two were almost matched up in the UFC.
“I got a call around noon,” Sonnen said at the Bellator 222 press conference (via Fernanda Prates & Matt Erickson of MMA Junkie). “Later that night, I go into the gym, I’m thinking about Machida, we’re starting to come up with strategy. I remember it being a stressful night, going, ‘God, of anybody they could give me. That’s a whole different set of problems.’ Because we don’t have anybody in my gym that trains like that. You really just have one crack to figure this guy out and it’s live, on TV, with your shirts off. And next day, I got up, I got a phone call, and the fight was off. And I remember saying, ‘Good, I’m glad that fight is off.’”
Machida has a very elusive striking style, which is a stark contrast to Sonnen’s wrestling game, with Machida scoring ten wins by way of KO/TKO.
Sonnen would even go as far as to say that his upcoming opponent is the wrestler killer.
“It drives me nuts,” Sonnen said. “I’ve seen all of his fights. Nobody wants to fight wrestlers, you just fight them when you have to. He’s like the wrestler killer. You name it, to (Mark) Munoz, to (Ryan) Bader, to Rashad (Evans), and I don’t know why. I watched him 20 times. I stayed up until 3 in the morning watching him last night. I cannot figure out why nobody can close that distance and get their hands on him. It’s a hard one. He moves, constantly. Then you step in, he steps back. You can never close that distance, nobody can. I watched Jon Jones for nine minutes at it, it’s one of those really tough things. That’s the intrigue.”
Bellator 222 takes place on Friday, June 14 from Madison Square Garden in New York, New York with no main event announced at this time. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, which streams live on DAZN.