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Exclusive: Sonnen Brings in Okami to ‘Anchor’ his Training Camp for UFC 109 Fight Against Marquardt

Chael Sonnen Yushin Okami Arianny Celeste Duke of Hazzard
(Sonnen and Okami: Bros before foes.)

By contributor Mike Russell

When Chael Sonnen was asked after beating Yushin Okami at UFC 104 whether or not he was upset that his fight was relegated to the undercard, his reply was:

“We got men and women at war right now – they got real problems – so me complaining about where I come out on the card would be very arrogant. But with that said, there are guys that I’m opening the show for that would never fight after me had Okami not been my dance partner. They call him Yushin “Thunder” Okami, I call him Yushin “Anchor” Okami; he pulls people down, whereas if you get a fight with me – if you get me on the docket, I’m going to pull you up. I’m going to get exposure and attention and people to care about the fight and “Anchor” Okami’s got the opposite effect. So was it annoying? Yes.”

Two months later the Team Quest middleweight apparently had a change of heart, and invited his former opponent to stay with him for a month at his home in Oregon to help kick off the training camp for his UFC 109 showdown with Nate Marquardt on February 6.

“I’m actually on my way to practice right now and Yushin is sitting next to me in the car.”

So how did Okami go from being, in Sonnen’s eyes, the anchor that dragged his opponents mercilessly to the depths of the UFC undercard, to sitting shotgun to him on the way to train at Team Quest?

“The day after our match, we were heading to the airport to fly home and we ended up in the same van. Not only did we end up in the same van, it was just us in the van and he told me he wanted to come train with me,” Sonnen explains. “I gave him Matt Lindland’s contact info and I believe he had his manager contact Matt, which is how this all came about.”

As far as his comments towards Okami are concerned, Sonnen chalks them up to equal parts psychological warfare and being caught in the moment after a win.

“A lot of what is said before and after a fight is meant to distract your opponent. I can’t remember how I felt before the fight or what I said after it, but speaking for today, he’s great. He’s one of the nicest guys and he works really hard. I beat him in our fight, but I don’t think I’ve beaten him a round since,” he says. “The neatest thing in the world is when your former adversary becomes your training partner. We definitely have a bond. He speaks very little English; we communicate with a lot of hand gestures, so we’re mostly using our fighting as communication in the gym.”

If Sonnen, a staunch Republican who once ran for a seat as an Oregon State Representative, can mend political fences as efficiently and impressively as he did with Okami, he could have a bright future in Washington.

Cagepotato Comments

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Perma- December 17, 2009 at 6:13 am
Don't sleep on Sonnan... I love nate the great but Sonnan is legit and not the boring fighter you all make him out to be it takes 2 people to make a boring fight(Filhooooo anyone)
Randy Pan- December 15, 2009 at 7:17 pm
Chael Sonnen occasionally pulls off some interesting take-downs, but it seems like he feels that the best way to market himself is to be a cocky clown who grossly exaggerates his own abilities while keeping a straight face.
Mex- December 15, 2009 at 4:10 pm
He's using Okami to exponentially increase his boring level (it'll be over 9000). His master plan is to not only put his opponent, but the audience and judges to sleep. Brilliance.
portland mma- December 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm
^ Awesome point about Maia and Sonnen, even better name.
ghostboner- December 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm
So let's see... Maia submits Sonnen in like what was it 3 minutes, and then Marquardt makes Maia's face into an innie in like 9 seconds, and so let's have Chael fight Nate! I know the rule doesn't always hold up, but what are the odds of Sonnen pulling this one out?
so awesome
Endocat- December 15, 2009 at 12:22 pm
Ive been excited one time for an Okami fight. I have never been excited for a Sonnen fight.

Hopefully one of them will learn some aggressive GnP

fACE7biter- December 15, 2009 at 12:07 pm
Dude, I'm going to be using that quite a lot from now on.

And I have to concur that there is something irritating about Sonnen that I just can't put my finger on. Nate the Great will make short work of him.
Mike Milbury- December 15, 2009 at 11:57 am
@Robocop Didnt Tap: Liar, you probably only saw one fight and dozed off. Reviewing all those fights over 5 years might induce a permanent coma.
Robocop Didnt Tap- December 15, 2009 at 11:10 am

Oh sorry, I was just reviewing Sonnen and Okami's fights over the last 5 years and dozed off.
portland mma- December 15, 2009 at 10:43 am
I don't think i was actually being to snarky since you were talking about Paulo Thiago who fights at a different weight class and has never fought Chael Sonnen .
Remsaa- December 15, 2009 at 10:37 am
@ portland mma

Ah yes your snarkiness has proved me wrong, it was Filho not Thiago, should have made sure to fact check my post.

Doesn't change the fact that Chael is a


ScarTissue- December 15, 2009 at 9:51 am
@portland mma
Lol...oops right.
Jakey2- December 15, 2009 at 9:45 am
Boss hogg rules
portland mma- December 15, 2009 at 9:31 am
I have no idea what Remsaa and scar tissue are talking about? When the hell did Chael fight a guy named Thiago? You mean Paulo Filho right?
ScarTissue- December 15, 2009 at 9:24 am
I feel exactly the same. It pisses me off so bad that Thiago was acting crazy right in front of him and he didn't capitalize. The best fighters are watching what the opponent is doing and react to them.

Sticking to your game plan isn't always the best way to go (Sanchez/Penn for example). Backing away while your opponent is obviously seeing the ghosts of his ancestors isn't either.
Remsaa- December 15, 2009 at 9:15 am
I still haven't gotten over the Sonnen/Thiago fight.

I mean Paulo looked bad but Chael sucked balls.

And he is a pretentious narcissistic dick.

A dick that sucks balls.

Enlightening post I know...
mthomas- December 15, 2009 at 8:59 am
I think if anyone deserves a rematch with Silva, it's Marquardt. The guy has completely reinvented himself since his loss to the Spider and beat everyone the UFC has put in front of him (except Leites and we all know the story with that). Much more deserving than anyone else in the middleweight division.
Slampage- December 15, 2009 at 8:08 am
lol @ agentsmith

i thought that was pretty funny, so i decided to lol
Mike Milbury- December 15, 2009 at 8:08 am
No one wants to see Nate fight Silva except the hardcores. While Nate has the fighting ability to be a challenger, he doesn't have the "it" factor to warrant a rematch and take up one of Silva's last fights on his contract. Granted, neither did Cote or Leites so who knows what Joe Silva was smoking those two times (But at least they were NEW fights and not rematches).

I mean, Henderson has even less of a personality than Nate, yet I'll bet most would have been receptive to him getting the title shot because of again, that "it" factor.
skeletor- December 15, 2009 at 7:55 am
@ Portland mma

I was thinking the same thing he should have brought Fitch in to train with them as well.

Marquart is gonna wreck Sonnen.
portland mma- December 15, 2009 at 7:47 am
Fitch needs to move up to 185 and "fight" Chael Sonnen for the most legendary decision ever.
Kevin Marshall- December 15, 2009 at 7:18 am
Said it before, I'll say it again - I can't make heads or tails of this guy (Sonnen).
Lunk- December 15, 2009 at 7:14 am
It would sound pretty arrogant of me to say that I'm better than everyone else and I think I'm a much better fighter than I really am. Having said that, I'm better than everyone else and I think I'm a much better fighter than I really am.
exes.for.iballs- December 15, 2009 at 7:05 am
Then he should get the winner of bisping v. Silva.
King_KP- December 15, 2009 at 6:53 am
After he won his match against Okami, Sonnen did say he would fight Rich cause he wanted to squash some beef that their was between team quest and Rich. Only problem with that match is if Rich beats Sonnen it takes out a contender in a very limited pool of potential candidates to go up against Silva. Even if Sonnen doesn't deserve to get a match with Silva soon, it can't hurt to have another guy in line to go up against him.