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Host Chael Sonnen talks MMA Awards, Anderson Silva and UFC ring girls

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Chael Sonnen flexes after weighing in for UFC 117 in Oakland, Calif.
Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP

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The Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards return tonight to the Pearl at the Palms for a second year. Fighting royalty will walk the red carpet at the MMA’s version of the Oscars hosted by UFC middleweight fighter Chael Sonnen and TV personality Molly Qerim.

After defeating Brian Stann at UFC 136, Sonnen issued a challenge to middleweight champ Anderson Silva: “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck. I’m calling you out, Silva, but I’m upping the stakes. I beat you, and you leave the division. You beat me, and I leave the UFC forever.”

If that’s not a classic example of “them’s fightin’ words,” then I don’t know what is. While he waits for UFC President Dana White to officially book this all-but-confirmed bout, Sonnen is capitalizing on his charismatic and controversial personality as host of this year’s awards.

Read on to hear what Sonnen had to say about hosting, “fancy boy” Silva and the UFC ring girls.

What do you think of the MMA Awards as a whole?

I like the show. I like the format. I think it’s great for the industry and great to get recognition for the sport as a whole.

The awards show recognizes some of the biggest moments of the past year. What were some of last year’s highlights that stood out to you?

I think the stuff Jon Jones has done as a fighter and the ways that he’s done it have been a big deal. The UFC in Toronto, doing 55,000 people at a live gate. For any sport, that is incredible, especially for a U.S. company to go on the road and break attendance records. Basketball, baseball, football, nobody could do that. No other sport could leave the country and break records by five times. I think that was a pretty compelling moment for the industry.

I know fighters tend to not look past their next fight, but is there any opponent you would love to fight one day?

Anderson Silva is my guy. He’s my nemesis. He is the guy who if I had a choice, I would fight him and beat him, and then I would fight him again and again. The guy is a big draw, and he’s easy money.

How have you prepared for your role as host, as it has included many comedic elements in past years?

They hired me because I’ve got personality and attitude. I’m not up there to do stand-up. I’m just up there to award people and recognize them. I’m not going into this to be a comedian; I’m going into this to be Chael Sonnen and hand out awards.

It’s not my night, and I’m not there to bring drama. People have worked hard and they deserve to be recognized, and I’m not going to interject myself. Everybody is welcome to come, from the real fighters to the fake fighters, which means even Wanderlei Silva should press his finest suit and limp on down to the Palms on Nov. 30.

Looking forward to your next fight and the statements you made at the last one, would you really retire if you lost the fight with Anderson Silva?

Well of course it was true. I meant every word of it. Anderson says he wants to get rid of me, and this is his chance. I knew Anderson Silva was a coward. I’m privy to what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve watched him duck and dodge and choose his opponents. He’s as phony as Mike Tyson was. But in a million years, I never thought he would publicly let it be known. I thought if I called him out in the ring and put everything on the line that he would stand up and give me a thumbs up or a nod, or he’d send one of his handlers in the back to say he accepted my challenge.

In a million years, I never thought he would cower publicly. That’s not his culture. What an insult to the entire heritage of the Brazilian people that Anderson did not accept a challenge. That is not the Brazilian way. I was shocked. I was shocked he sat there and covered his mouth like a little fancy boy instead of standing up and saying, “Let’s do this.”

Who are you pulling for in the Ring Girl of the Year category?

We only had one, and that was Chandella [Powell]. The other was the IQ card girl. Arianny [Celeste] kind of walks around and holds up her latest test score. One time when there was a title fight, she got all the way up to 5, and we were very proud of her.

Editor’s Note: Check out the Twitter war between Sonnen and Celeste since the posting of this story last Friday by our colleagues at LasVegasWeekly.com.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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