At the time, Marquardt was one of the middleweight division’s game competitors. He entered his effort against Sonnen with the hype of three straight knockout wins including success against Martin Kampmann and Demian Maia. However, he had no real answer for Sonnen’s relentless takedowns and polished top control, suffering a decision loss to the superior grappler. Stann was an interesting challenge for Sonnen based not only on skill but because the two were friends. He also happened to be coming into the clash with a trio of consecutive wins to his credit with stoppages in each. While Stann’s knockout power made him a threat, especially given Sonnen’s questionable stand-up, his lack of ability to deal with pressure on the ground was the former Marine’s undoing. In the second stanza, Sonnen took him down and worked his way into position for an Arm-Triangle Choke eliciting a tap shortly thereafter. Like some of his other notable past opponents, Okami was on a three-fight winning streak when he crossed paths with the “Gangster from West Linn”. That being said, Okami’s size, strength, and wrestling ability made him different than any foe Sonnen had faced before in the Octagon. In the eyes of many, it seemed likely Okami would be able to stuff Sonnen’s attempts to drag action down to the mat and pick him apart with strikes. Neither thing actually happened though, as Sonnen employed his standard strategy and came away with a decision victory as a result. Sonnen sure is good at ending streaks! His bout with Bisping was for top contendership and came at a point when “The Count” was looking particularly sharp. The Brit’s momentum carried over into the clash and nearly earned him a crack at then-champ Anderson Silva’s championship, though judges ultimately saw things differently than a good percentage of folks tuning in. Sonnen’s toughness, tenacity, and wrestling kept him going despite absorbing, by his own admission, the hardest shots he’d ever been hit with. Nobody outside of Sonnen’s camp expected him to exit his showdown with “Shogun” as a winner based on Rua’s vastly superior striking and reputation as one of the division’s top draws. Fortunately, fights are determined by performance rather than how things look on paper. Sonnen put Rua on his backside right away and started working. Though he couldn’t keep the Brazilian down for long it didn’t matter, as a later takedown opened the window for him to secure a fight-ending Guillotine Choke.
For the first half of
’s career it didn’t appear as though the hard-nosed wrestler was likely to have much of an impact on the MMA landscape. His record was mediocre and he had no real signature wins to speak of. However, for the past five years Sonnen has been a major player, earning numerous title-shots and emerging as one of the Chael Sonnen UFC’s most recognizable faces based on his work inside the Octagon in addition to his role as a member of the FOX broadcast team. This weekend the 28-13-1 Sonnen is set to collide with (18-3-1) in co-headlining action at Rashad Evans where the 36-year old will have an opportunity to add one more high-profile win to his resume. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 167