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Chael Sonnen takes a beating, still stuns Nate Marquardt

UFC middleweight earns title shot, puts down Anderson Silva again

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Nate Marquardt tries to get out from under Chael Sonnen during their middleweight bout at UFC 109 Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Sonnen won by decision.

UFC 109: Couture Submits Coleman

Light Heavyweight Randy Couture defies his age yet again with a second round submission of Mark Coleman at Saturday's UFC 109.

UFC 109 - Relentless

Randy Couture tags Mark Coleman with a right during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 109 Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Couture won the battle of UFC Hall of Fame fighters by submission in the second round. Launch slideshow »

Chael Sonnen went into Saturday night's fight against top UFC middleweight Nate Marquardt knowing that win or lose, he was going to take a beating.

All he had to do was make sure he delivered a slightly bigger beating.

"A lot of my mental preparation for this was knowing I was going to get beat up tonight," Sonnen said. "I just had to make sure I beat him up worse.

"A lot of things went really bad for me in terms of me sustaining damage. But I went in with the mental mindset of, 'Take what he gives you and just make sure you give back.'"

Although Sonnen (24-10-1) used his frequently overlooked wrestling abilities to cruise to yet another decision over a top opponent, it was clear just by looking at his face after the fight that Marquardt had given him all he could ask for.

Over the course of 15 minutes, Sonnen said, Marquardt kneed him so hard "everything went white" and sunk a guillotine choke in during the final round that Sonnen refereed to as "a miserable experience."

In the second round, Marquardt opened a cut over Sonnen's right eye with an elbow that was so deep Sonnen feared the fight would be called.

"I've never felt so bad in my life," said Sonnen, who received stitches on his forehead and nose. "When he cut me open, I was really worried. When he hit me, I could hear it. Then I saw the blood pouring from it and I was really worried the ref was going to step in. In between rounds, I had a great cut man that just shut it off. I don't know how he did it.

"He knocked me out with a flying knee; he choked me to death in the third round. It was a miserable experience, and I'm glad it's over."

However miserable the night was for Sonnen, it must have been double for Marquardt, who entered the night as a 5-to-1 favorite.

While Marquardt was able to land some significant blows throughout the fight and nearly stole the fight away with the late guillotine, he had no answer for Sonnen's takedowns and spent most of the fight on his back.

It wasn't a problem many had thought Marquardt would have, including Sonnen, who said he was out-wrestled by Marquardt daily when the two trained together briefly in 2004.

"That wasn't how I saw the fight going. It was the opposite actually," Sonnen said. "I had worked out with him before and I didn't take him down once. It was very frustrating. I would go home, come in the next day and he'd out-wrestle me again.

Saturday night's fight was to determine who would be the next challenger for the UFC middleweight belt. The defending champion will be decided at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi in April, when current champ Anderson Silva looks to defend the title over Vitor Belfort.

Although many were already planning on seeing a rematch of the 2007 title fight between Silva and Marquardt, Sonnen may actually present just as interesting of a headlining bout given his recent comments on Silva.

Over the past week, Sonnen has made it clear he believes Silva is highly overrated and thinks the Brazilian would get run out of his town due to his personality and fashion sense.

Immediately after earning the next title shot with the win over Marquardt, Sonnen was already starting this verbal assault on Silva.

"I hope Anderson wins (in April) because I think Vitor is a much tougher fighter," Sonnen said. "If I had to chose between the two, I'm going to take the low road and take the easier opponent to the championship. I really do mean it."

If Silva wins, UFC President Dana White said, he doesn't believe the fighter would need to be talked into defending his title again, rather than moving to the light heavyweight division. Stylistically, Sonnen could make for a great challenge if it is Silva's belt to defend, White said.

"No matter what Chael says, (Silva) likes having the belt at 185," White said. "I'm a big believer in cleaning out a division and it's interesting, because Marquardt had already fought (Silva) once and Chael hasn't.

"Chael has an interesting style matchup with Anderson and I think that could be a good matchup."

Considering many believe Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, expect Sonnen to come in once again a significant underdog if that's the fight that gets made.

Perhaps, though, with his dominating performance over Marquardt, Sonnen will finally receive a bit of the respect he says he's been due.

"There's a big mental side to this sport, and I've finally began to tap into it," Sonnen said. "I started to look at myself and realized I've never been beaten up. I've never been knocked out, TKO'd or lost a decision (he's actually officially lost twice by TKO and once by decision). Every fight I've lost has been by submission. I've dominated every fight I've been in, including the ones I lost.

"So when you ask me, 'Was I being overlooked?' I want to remain humble, but I think you ask a fair question. And I think a fair response is, 'Yeah.'"

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

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