Chael Sonnen has a storied history with soon-to-be UFC fighter CM Punk, despite never having met him before 2012.
Sonnen, often compared to the outspoken former pro wrestling star Punk, told Fightful.com that he'd asked the Chicago-native Punk to walk him to the cage for his UFC on FOX bout with Michael Bisping in January 2012. Even though the two had never formally met, Sonnen thought it would be a natural fit to make the connection.
“It was very unsophisticated. I reached out to CM Punk, I had never met him," Sonnen admitted in an exclusive interview with Fightful.com. "In that world, everybody knows everybody, you just do. The fight was in Chicago and he was a big fight fan and a big supporter from Chicago. I asked if he could walk me out and he said 'absolutely.' To explain, you have cornerman passes, but you could have 100 guys walk you out – that's a promotional choice. You'll see that in boxing. When the fight starts, everyone has to leave. The UFC as a promotion doesn't allow that."
To no surprise, the UFC and Dana White didn't have any issues with a then-WWE Champion appearing on their programming. Vince McMahon nixed the idea, however, saying that one day someone 'would die in the UFC cage.' Sonnen recalls that Punk wasn't a happy camper.
"I went to Dana and he said 'absolutely.' I asked Punk if Vince signed off on it and he said 'I'm going to ask for forgiveness, not for permission.' Somehow the word got out and maybe he's the one who took it, but all I know is he was shelved and he was pissed," Sonnen told us.
Sonnen has long been a media member, and shed light on many stories in mixed martial arts, but Punk signing with the UFC admittedly caught the former UFC Middleweight title challenger off guard.
“I had heard the rumors," Sonnen said. "I don't believe I did, because the vision I have of finding out was him standing into the pay-per-view shot side-by-side with Joe Rogan. I don't remember knowing. I remember that shot that leads me to believe that I was as surprised as anybody.”
"The West Linn Gangster" said that while he wanted to train with Punk, he supports the 37-year old's decision to train at Roufusport in Milwaukee.
“No, I tried. We had discussed that. He is in such good hands. As a buddy, the best thing you can do is just stay out of his way. He's with Roufus. There are maybe 4-5 camps in the whole world that are on Roufus' par. I talk to him, text him 'hey, how ya doin?,' I talk to his teammates all the time. Anthony Pettis and I have been friends since the beginning of our fight careers. I talk to Ben Askren every day. These guys see him, man, I'm hearing some really good things. Skill wise, yeah, he's probably where you think he'd be at. Probably where he deserves to be, a guy is who just jumped into this. Toughness and showing up, and dedicated and spirit and attitude? They rant and rave about him," Sonnen said.
You can hear our full interview with Sonnen above.