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Breaking down UFC 109: Nate Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen

Sonnen says he’s done nothing but speak the truth leading up to co-main event

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Las Vegas Sun

Middleweight fighter Chael Sonnen during fighter workouts at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Wednesday, February 3, 2010. The fighters will battle at UFC 109 at the events center on Saturday.

UFC 109: Prefight Presser

Final thoughts from the headliners before Saturday's UFC 109.

UFC 109 workouts

Middleweight fighter Chael Sonnen works out with Matt Lindland at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Wednesday, February 3, 2010. Sonnen will fight Nate Marquardt in UFC 109 at the events center on Saturday. Launch slideshow »

Chael Sonnen says he doesn't understand what the big deal is.

In the midst of reports that the fighter is searching for a spotlight leading up to his fight with Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Sonnen says all he's done is provided a little something that's been missing in mixed martial arts.

"It's called the truth," said Sonnen, when asked about his recent comments that could be seen as trash talk. "It's very new to MMA. None of it was rhetoric, and I wouldn't apologize for any of it. It was the truth."

In the last week, Sonnen has made comments ranging from claims that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva hates the media to assertions that UFC light heavyweight Mark Coleman doesn't train properly.

His rants even have earned the attention of UFC President Dana White, who said Thursday that Sonnen's quotes this week have been "crazy."

"I didn't agree with 90 percent of what he's said," White said. "Pretty much everything (Sonnen) said sounded like my Youtube video rant. It was crazy and it made no sense."

If this past week has been a marketing ploy by Sonnen to get into the title picture, one thing is certain — it's worked.

White announced Thursday that the winner between Sonnen and Marquardt would receive the next title shot, presumably at Silva if he's able to get past Vitor Belfort at UFC 112 in April in Abu Dhabi.

Sonnen said fans and media should get used to him speaking his mind, especially on the subject of Silva, whom he says annoys him with the way he dresses and the games he plays.

"Believe me, when I get done with Nate and I sink my teeth into that bone, it will be way more exciting than anything I've said about him before," Sonnen said. "He will get a verbal beating, and he'll deserve every bit of it."

Pretty much the only thing Sonnen isn't talking trash about this week is his opponent. Surprisingly, he's had nothing but good things to say about Marquardt.

"Every now and then you run into a good guy in this business, and Nate's one of them," Sonnen said. "There's no bad feelings in this fight."

Quick Hits:

Even Sonnen will admit he's going to have his hands full Saturday night.

It's no secret Sonnen's greatest strength is his wrestling, and he's known for wearing opponents down and controlling fights.

That's going to be tough to do against Marquardt, who ranks fifth in takedown defense among active fighters and showed he can stay on his feet against Sonnen when the two trained together in 2004.

"He's a hard guy to get down," Sonnen said. "I've worked out with him before and I couldn't get him down then.

"Nobody wants to strike it out. Even the guys that say they do, don't. That's what people say when can't get a fight to the ground. I might be in that spot if I can't get him down."

There is reason to hope for Sonnen, as obviously the two fighters have changed since meeting in a gym in 2004. In his UFC career, Sonnen has succeeded on 60 percent of his takedown attempts and has never been out-struck in a UFC fight.

The result of the fight will rely on Sonnen's ability to get Marquardt to the ground and stay out of trouble, which is what Marquardt has prepared for.

"He has to come up with a game plan to use his wrestling," Marquardt said. "He might try to pin me up against the cage and wear me out. He's going to try to hit me when I think he's going to shoot. I'm prepared for that."

Last Time Out:

Marquardt: First round win by knockout over Demian Maia at UFC 102.

Sonnen: Unanimous decision win over Yushin Okami at UFC 104.

The Lines: Marquardt, -500; Sonnen, +350

Final Words:

Sonnen: Comments at opening of pre-fight press conference: "My opponent, on paper wins the fight. But we're not fighting on paper. We're fighting on the blood-soaked canvas that has UFC written in the middle. He can bring his better striking, and we'll see who the better fighter is."

Marquardt: Immediately after Sonnen's comments: "You're a great speaker Chael. You're going to make a great politician."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Also follow him on twitter: LVSunFighting.

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