So maybe “dick-tucked” was an over-simplification. Yes, Chael Sonnen will be staying home this weekend, despite his original plan to corner Yushin Okami at UFC 134 in Rio. But his reasons for backing out of the trip are a little more complicated than the fear of a Brazilian lynch mob. MMAJunkie has the details:
A source with knowledge of the situation told MMAjunkie.com that Praetorian, a Brazil-based MMA brand, threatened to pull [Okami]‘s sponsorship if Sonnen attended.
“There’s a line of people that want to kick his ass,” the source said.
And that could be the least of problems for the expert trash-talker. Sonnen said friends in the country forwarded him a local-media report in which a police chief threatened to arrest him on sight if he showed. The official cited a law that makes disparaging the national identity a crime.
“You don’t have freedom of speech in Brazil; put it like that,” Sonnen told MMAjunkie.com after a workout at Team Quest Tualatin…
Brazil-based MMA manager Alex Davis said Sonnen’s words have united Brazil’s MMA community.
“Brazilians don’t get together on other things, but they’ve gotten together on this,” he said. “Brazilian authorities would not arrest Sonnen for anything he said. They would defend him. But he is talking about people that a whole generation of fighters worship.”
“I only want to be there to help him,” Sonnen said. “I don’t need to see the show. I can watch the show on TV. I was going exclusively in support of Yushin, and frankly, it’s been headed this way for a long time. It’s been headed the direction of, ‘Hey, this is becoming a distraction.’
“This fight isn’t about me. I’m not involved. I’m here to lend you support. But I don’t want things thrown at what will unintentionally be him while he’s in the ring or we’re going to the ring.
“This is serious business. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s not my place to disturb it or shift any type of attention to me. This is his moment, his night, his time to be the world champ.”
At this point, Okami’s association with Chael Sonnen will guarantee at least a couple plastic-cups full of Brahma thrown at him during the walkout. Not the most popular fighter to begin with, Okami will be greeted with a deafening wave of boos before his fight against the national hero. In fact, the UFC 134 main event might even surpass GSP vs. Jake Shields in terms of hatred-potential.
But no matter what transpires in the fight, the absence of Chael Sonnen will significantly reduce the odds of a riot. And that’s a good thing considering that the UFC is already looking at a Brazilian stadium show in 2012.