Former UFC middleweight fighter Chael Sonnen spoke with Sports Illustrated about CM Punk fighting Mickey Gall at UFC 203 this Saturday night. During the interview, Sonnen explained that this is going to be a quick fight because both guys will empty their gas tanks early as they are inexperienced and that the fight will end in the first round.
“When I watched Punk train, I liked the way he attacked. I liked how busy he was with his jab, I like that he finished everything with a kick, I like the way he forces the clinch and forces guys up against the fence. When he wasn’t attacking, and the guys were coming after him, I thought that it was a case of Punk’s best defense is a good offense. He started with jiu-jitsu, but I’m not certain he wants to go to the ground with Gall. I think Gall wants to be the one to take him there, so I’ll be looking to see if they’re standing up or they’re on the ground. If I were in Punk’s corner, I would feel a little more confident if he were standing. Punk really respects Anthony Pettis, and I know that he watches Pettis spar, and I’d like to see him standing up. That’s where he focused a lot of his attention, and Duke Roufus is such a good coach, and he is a puncher and a kicker. Punk has been one-on-one with Duke Roufus for the last two years—I would like to spend two hours with Roufus—and he knows what’s going on. I think this is a pretty quick fight. The nerves are going to help lead to that. It’s Punk’s first time out there, and Gall is getting thrown right into a card with a fight for the heavyweight championship of the world, it’s a big deal. That would lend to both guys’ gas tanks emptying a little quicker, and I’ll give you one prediction: this is over in the first round.”
Sonnen trained at WCW’s Power Plant in Atlanta in 1998 and took part in a tryout camp before getting into MMA. Sonnen commented on the experience.
“WCW had a three-day tryout in 1998, and the process was to work you hard for three days, and when you had enough, make you quit. If you could make it through the tryout, you’d have the chance to interview – but no one ever made it through the tryout. There were only a small handful of us – thirteen people – to start, and by the end second day, there were four of us. By the end of the second day, there were two of us. I went out there during the summer of my junior year in college, so I went back to finish school and get my degree, and then WCW went out of business. I never pursued it and went to the UFC instead. Sarge [DeWayne Bruce] was running it, and Booker T and Bob Sapp were running through. Prince Iaukea was very involved and hands-on, and he was one of the guys who was really helpful. Most of the guys were trying to run you off – they saw future competition, so their mentality was to get rid of you now instead of getting rid of you later. It was tough. I was a Division I All-American in wrestling and couldn’t have been in better shape, and I still remember how hard it was. I was watching guys drop, and I was surprised they weren’t dropping faster.”
Sonnen also talked about his podcast and more. Check out the full interview here.