Mark La Monica is the deputy sports editor for cross media at Newsday and writes about mixed martial
For two years, we heard Chael Sonnen talk a tremendous amount of trash about Anderson Silva, his home country of Brazil and, more recently, his wife.
For two years, we heard Chael Sonnen call himself the UFC middleweight champion and occasionally show up to news conferences with a belt he never won from Silva.
Sonnen beat up on Silva at UFC 117 on Aug. 7, 2010, for 22 minutes, then tapped out in the 23rd minute. On Saturday night, July 7, 2012, at UFC 148, it all ended for Sonnen as he lost for a second time to Silva, this one by technical knockout 1:55 into the second round.
Now what does Sonnen do?
“It’s pass or fail when you’re in there," Sonnen said after the fight. "You either get it done or you don’t.”
He didn't. Twice.
When you spend that amount of time crafting a villainous public image, tearing into a man, his team, his family and his country only to lose the fight, where is there left to go?
“You have to be chasing the championship," Sonnen said. "I had my chance and then I got it again. I will not hang around for one day to blend in. It’s either be the world champ or move on and do something else.”
Will Sonnen continue to rant about how he's "the undisputed champion" when in fact he lost twice to the actual champion? He seems awfully humble in the post-fight press conference Saturday night.
Will he continue to take shots at the man on top of the mountain after he twice climbed toward the top but was sent sliding down the rock?
More importantly, will anyone listen to him anymore?
Sure, Sonnen knows how to create a strong sound bite worthy of repetition by video editors, MMA writers and the sport's fans. But even Brett Favre can retire one too many times.
Sonnen should remain quiet in terms of talking trash and just be humble after a second loss to Silva.
There have been glimpses of Sonnen acting respectful about Silva, the man who has won all 15 of his UFC fights, including 10 straight title defenses, and acknowledging his exceptional talents. Many of those who have met and/or know Sonnen say the latter is more of his real-life persona, not this pro wrestling caricature he has created when the cameras focus on him. That's the Sonnen we should see in the next few weeks.
In the center of the octagon after the fight, Silva and Sonnen shook hands. Silva asked the Brazilian fans in attendance for the largest U.S. gate in UFC history ($7 million) to show respect for Sonnen. He then offered Sonnen a place at his table in Curitiba, Brazil, for a barbecue.
“I am starving," Sonnen said. "I could go for some Brazilian barbecue right now, but only if it’s medium rare.”
The "medium rare" line was a reference to some of Sonnen's pre-fight comments.
Perhaps Sonnen can work his way back toward title contender again, but there's also a chance that Silva will be retired before then. Or maybe he would have lost that title beforehand.
Either way, Sonnen's two-year attack on all things Anderson Silva has become nothing more than talking the talk. While Sonnen now must figure out how to recover from his second loss to Silva, the champion continues to walk the walk.