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Chael Sonnen doesn’t consider himself a UFC Hall of Famer despite 2024 induction

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Chael Sonnen doesn’t think he’s a true UFC Hall of Famer.

At UFC 300, Sonnen received a pleasant surprise when during the main card broadcast, the promotion announced that his fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117 will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer in the Fight Wing. But for as touched as he was by the moment, “The American Gangster” doesn’t believe he’s a true Hall of Famer. At least not yet.

“Would I consider [myself a Hall of Famer]? No, I wouldn’t,” Sonnen said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “You either are or you aren’t. But no, I don’t think so. I think you have to go in. I don’t think a fight can go in [for you]. I don’t think that makes me a Hall of Famer, I think it makes a Hall of Fame fight. That’s always been my interpretation of it. The guys that go in separately, I feel like are in a different class.”

Silva is already in the Hall — inducted to the Pioneer Wing in 2023 — and whether he considers himself one or not, Sonnen now joins his old rival for their epic battle, which won Fight of the Year honors in 2010.

As has been custom for these sorts of announcements, the UFC made sure Sonnen was in attendance at the event, working as an analyst and personality. Sonnen says the actual reveal came as a complete shock to him.

“I never knew,” Sonnen said when recounting the scene. “Hindsight, everything is so obvious. I was there when they brought Wanderlei [Silva] in [for his Hall of Fame announcement]. They put him in the same chair, they brought him up at the same point in the show. But no, I didn’t know.

“What I was told, even the day before, is, ‘We’re going to come and get you and after the second fight, right before the BMF, you and Megan [Olivi] are going to go do a live thing on the importance of the BMF.’ ... Then sure enough, Megan came up — and Megan even had a script. And she said, ‘Hey, is there anything you don’t want me to ask you?’ And then she made notes as I responded to her.

“But the tell was when we went down to the seat, the seat said ‘Chael’ on it. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, for this little tiny spot in the show, their producers are so good that they’ve even got a chair marked for me with my name on it.’ That should have been the tell, but it wasn’t. I didn’t know and I’m really glad. It was a very nice surprise. Very fun moment.”

All in all, it was a wonderful moment for Sonnen, who was arguably the biggest star in the sport during the peak of his career. After the video package rolled, Sonnen appeared to be a little emotional at what just happened, but ever in character, “The Bad Guy” put that down to shock and awe.

“Not that I know of,” Sonnen said when asked if he got emotional. “I couldn’t hear! When you’re so close, you can’t hear the acoustics. Apparently Jon Anik made the announcement — and I heard Anik say something about August 2010 and the time in California, and I remember thinking, ‘I know where I was in August in [2010], I know the time I was in Oakland.’ I remember thinking this, but I never heard them say, ‘You’re in.’ So they were playing the montage and I got up and I whispered to Megan, ‘What’s happening right now?’ She said, ‘You’re in the Hall of Fame!’ My goodness! It was a wonderful moment. You don’t get surprised very many times in life, particularly as an adult ... it was awesome. It was a very fun surprise.”

Silva and Sonnen join UFC champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Frankie Edgar, and former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva as 2024 Hall of Fame inductees, and will be inducted during the 2024 UFC Hall of Fame ceremony on June 27 at T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas.

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