Q & A With MMA Fighter Chael Sonnen Before Bellator Tournament Scrap With Fedor Emelianenko

Chael Sonnen has fought a lot of fights, from the UFC and back again, and now to Bellator MMA where he has the opportunity to capture the world title that has eluded him during his long and often times controversial mixed martial arts career. After scoring an upset win over former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the first leg of the Bellator heavyweight tournament, the West Linn, Oregon native will today square off in the tournament semi-finals at Bellator 208 across the cage from the former longtime number one ranked heavyweight mixed martial artist in the world, former Pride FC heavyweight champion, and known associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Fedor Emelianenko.

 

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Crawford coaches Sonnen

Mike caught up with Sonnen during a recent training session at the Portland-area gym Spartan Training Center where he was receiving instruction from local kickboxing coach Curtis Crawford. Also helping Sonnen prepare for his fight was fellow Bellator fighter Jake ‘The Half Black Attack” Smith, who had been tasked with emulating the striking tendencies of Emelianenko.

Mike Bivins: So Chael, how have you been?

Chael Sonnen: I’ve been good, thank you for asking. I’ve just been working hard, nothing has really changed for me. I’ve pretty much been going to practice every day, and if there’s a fight coming up I work a little harder, but even if I don’t have a fight coming up I’m usually there.

MB: What’s going through your mind now that you’re fighting Fedor? I mean, back in the day he was the baddest man on the planet.

CS: They say that, they say that, he should have a lot of pride. He is the greatest heavyweight mixed martial artist of all time. I’m the greatest fighter of all time, and I’m sure he takes a lot of pride in it. I would not take it from him. I’m the greatest fighter. Three different divisions, 5 different world title fights. I beat him and I’ll be fighting for my 6th title in my 3rd different weight class spread over 21 years. There never has been anybody even close to accomplishing what I’ve accomplished.

MB: Do you see anything that you can exploit? Fedor’s got hours of tape. I mean, I don’t want to give away your game plan or anything.

CS: Nah, I don’t care about game plan. My game plan is just throw him down and beat a hole in his head. You can tell him that. But uh, yeah, I think he’s really explosive. I happened to be backstage when he was fighting Frank Mir and I watched him warm up for about six seconds. I remember watching him and going “Whoa. That guy can explode.” And when I’m talking about explosion I’m talking about a combo of two things, speed and power. He was so fast and so powerful that he could just go to that target so fast. I remember thinking, “Whoa, I hope that guy gets beat tonight.” And then he ended up winning, so here we are. I always try to watch my opponents, I think that that’s a helpful tool. But it is a weakness of mine, that I don’t watch a ton of that stuff, it’s hard for me to watch it, I get nervous when I watch it, my palms start to sweat. I just focus on myself and if Fedor shows up, and I expect him to, then we’ll fight, and if he doesn’t I’ll fight an alternate. The reason I bring that up is that I do not care who gets in there with me. I’ll fight anyone at any time.

MB: How’s fighting for Bellator generally?

CS: I love the sport, I think the company Bellator is great, and I don’t know that I’ve had a bad experience in this sport. I hear horror stories from some guys, mainly that came through the boxing world. But in MMA for the most part my experiences have been very good, and Bellator is ran by good leadership. I’ve had a great time, I love it.

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Sonnen and Smith spar while Crawford looks on

MB: How long have you and Curt known each other?

CS: So Curt used to be Curtis to me, but now he’s coach, but we were teammates, and his professional debut and my professional debut were the same day in 2002. We flew to California together. He was in a tournament that night. So he had to fight two or three guys in one night, but we both debuted together, he was 36 and I was 24. We’ve trained together since 2001.

MB: At Team Quest?

CS: Team Quest. We trained together until I’d say maybe 2007-ish and then he went just into coaching for the most part. He trained Evan Tanner to a UFC world championship.

And that was really it and I’ve been training with him ever since. When he said, “I’m gonna start coaching” I said, “Great, coach me.” One day he just said he was gonna coach, which is the evolution of fighters. He and I, as you saw tonight, we just click. Curtis can say one or two things and I could form a paragraph—I know exactly what he means, but we just communicate well like that. I have some other coaches that are like that but it’s a special thing, a rare thing, and when you find a guy like that, that’s your coach.

MB: Where are you based out of?

CS: Gracie Barra is my official gym. You’re welcome to come any time. Curtis teaches some classes out of there, too. Ya know, the guy’s from Portland—there’s all sorts of gyms but for the most part, everybody helps everybody. And you’re loyal to your gym and you sign up under your gym and you wish the best for your gym, but if you need help from somebody at a different gym, for the most part people in Portland are here for other people. I know who I am, if somebody needs something, they can count on me.

MB: After Fedor… are you looking past Fedor at all?

CS: Yeah, I always look past. Sometimes it goes the way you think and sometimes it doesn’t, but I always look past. A lot of people say focus on what’s in front of you, I think that’s good advice overall for coaching. I like distractions, I don’t like to be focused. I love injuries, people hate injuries, but I love to fight hurt. I focus, I think about it, it takes my mind off the fight, I love not feeling good. I love if I’m sick or injured or something, it’s just the right distraction, I’m into distractions. I have ADD, so it’s hard for me to focus sometimes. I don’t spend too much time thinking about Fedor. I respect him a lot and I respect him more than I have my other opponents, I can beat Fedor but I’ll tell you this as plainly as I know how to speak: He can beat me too. He can definitely beat me. I think he has to knock me out, he has to do it with the right hand, specifically and specifically a KO. I’ve never been knocked out. So I don’t think the odds are on his side to catch that punch. But I really don’t know. I would never say, “I’m gonna whip Fedor.” They say you gotta be confident, but I don’t know—that sounds like bullying to me. Bullies take fights against guys they know they can beat. If I knew I can beat Fedor I’d have no interest in the fight. He’s a tough son of a bitch, but so am I. And I’m not overlooking him, I don’t know if he can say the same thing. I think he thinks I’m too small.

MB: You look huge to me.

CS: Thank you.

MB: How much are you weighing?

CS: I try to get in there about 220, 219.

MB: How much longer do you plan on fighting?

CS: I have a big respect for guys who have the ability to extend their career. Dan Henderson and Couture, respectively, made it to 46 and 47, I’m 41, so I would like to outdo them. It would have to be at the highest level. Or if one of my coaches grabbed me and said, “You’re done” I would be done. Or if I ever lost the dream of being world champion. I won’t stay in this sport or take up a spot or a main event spot. But for now I’m still one of those guys who’s willing to put the work in and compete.

MB: Can I ask you about the Jon Jones fight? They say if someone would have seen the foot with his bone sticking out they would have stopped it and you would have been the UFC light heavyweight champ.

CS: You got it right. That’s exactly right.

MB: The ref or the doctor just didn’t notice it?

CS: So what happened was, there wasn’t much time left in the round, I don’t know what it was. Nobody saw it. Jon himself didn’t see it until after the fight. Somebody in his corner looks down and goes, “Oh my god a bone is sticking out.” That’s true though the way you remember it. That wouldn’t have been much of a win. I would have taken it. There’s been fugazi wins before, and the record book still reflected. A win is a win but I have never lost sleep over not getting the championship because Jon Jones hurt his toe.

I’ve been wrestling since I was 9-years-old. I’m always able to close the gap. There was just a gap between us and I wasn’t even close. He’s a tough son of a bitch, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. Jon Jones is a tough son of a bitch.

MB: He seems like one of those guys who could compete in any sport that he wanted.

CS: He could walk into boxing right now. MMA, he was a wrestling champion. He’s lazy, he’s undisciplined, he’s not deserving, he’s not any of those things that you’re told a champion is. But the truth is, you don’t have to if you go into a sport where you can have more points than the other guy and when time runs out they call you the champion. And I don’t say that to knock him at all, I just say it’s a reality that he’s not a guy you’d want to copy. If you’re a young kid, you’d have to work hard and be more dedicated and disciplined, but every once in a generation some guy comes along who the rules don’t apply to. He can just kind of do it his way and still come out on top. And none of that was meant to be negative as to give perspective into Jon Jones, he has found what works for him.

There was a basketball player when I was growing up, a real scumbag named Dennis Rodman. But Dennis Rodman was that same way. He could go out and party all night long and do whatever it was that he did and still show up and do well in games. There’s some guys that find what works for them. Society looks at them and says, “You’re doing all the wrong things,” but it’s their sport and they do it how they want to do it. Sometimes it’s not as obvious as what generally would work for the other guys. It’s meant as a compliment but it’s coming off as a little rough. In his situation less is more.

MB: Is there anybody who you wanted to fight, but the fight hasn’t materialized?

CS: If you were to ask me, at some point in my career, “Yeah I hate these guys. I hate them all equally. I despise these guys.” But I’ve had a long career and I’ve been able to get in there with them. Chuck Liddell seems like a perfectly nice guy, but I’ve always wanted to whip Chuck’s ass. I’m not calling out a dinosaur—just answering your questions. I wanted to fight Chuck 20 years ago. I don’t want to fight him today. Fedor doesn’t really fit on that list—he was two different weight classes up. I was a middleweight and he was a heavyweight. There was no chance it was gonna happen. I was fighting in North America and he was fighting in Asia. It was never gonna happen. But I can tell you it’s legitimately the only fight of my life I’ve ever been excited for. I have many emotions when it comes to fighting but never excitement. I can’t wait.

MB: Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you want to say or get off your chest?

CS: Nah I think I got it all out there. October 13, Paramount network. The former Spike TV. Fedor and I. Check it out.

I Ate At A Portland-area Chick-fil-A, I Hated It

Last week I was compelled to go to the Chick-fil-A near Clackamas Town Center. I was sitting in Popeyes and couldn’t help but wonder how Chick-fil-A stacked up against, from my perspective, the best chicken joint on Earth. So I soon found myself catching a Greenline MAX train to its terminus at Clackamas Town Center.

While approaching my destination, which is a short walk from the MAX station, I noticed a steady stream of drive-thru traffic. “Popular place,” I mumbled to myself as I inched closer to my destination.

When I stepped inside ,the first thing I noticed was how out of place I, a party of one, must have seemed to the families inside. As I scanned the menu, trying to decide what I wanted, I quickly settled on chicken wings. Popeyes has good chicken wings, so I figured this would give me a good indication as to how Chick-Fil-A chicken compares to Popeyes chicken.

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The most uninspired chicken on record

It turns out that Chick-fil-A chicken also comes with fries. This pairing did not strike me as natural, and I had never had fries with my chicken at Popeyes–but then again I never took the time to ask about fries.

What I saw next compelled me to blurt “what the hell?” out loud. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not the small, uninspired pile of bland looking chicken that the Chick-fil-A employee sat down in front of me. It did not resemble the decadent Popeyes chicken that I had come to crave on a regular basis. This was the most basic looking chicken I’d ever seen. And coupled with the BBQ sauce provided (I’d already used the honey mustard for the fries), the chicken was merely OK. I never use sauce on my Popeyes chicken, and so I felt like I was having to dress this chicken up in order to address its inadequacies. This, combined with the fact that Chick-fil-A appears to be a haven for loud and unruly children, assured me that I will not be returning until that point in time, if ever, that I have loud and unruly children of my own.

 

Anthony Bosley; Uber driver and business owner

An Uber Ride With Obama Clemency Grantee Anthony Bosley

The Empire Builder rumbles into Spokane’s Amtrak station at just past midnight. Right on time. I step out into the cold black night–my first time in Spokane–and as I make my way forward and exit the train station a raucous crowd is within view outside of a local establishment. It looked and sounded like quite the shindig, and I would join them, but it is now technically Sunday morning, and I’ve got a political rally and a counterprotest to cover once the sun rises. Vancouver’s Joey Gibson, infamous for organizing Patriot Prayer protests in the western part of Washington, Portland and Berkeley, is gunning for Maria Cantwell’s senate seat, and will be appearing in Spokane Valley. Local socialist groups have organized to protest against his arrival, and their choice for a venue is outside of Spokane City Hall–roughly ten miles from where Gibson will be appearing. Not having a car, in my mind there’s only one way I can cover both of these events. Uber. I’ll have to catch an Uber from the Amtrak station to my hotel, and in the morning catch it from the motel to city hall, and, finally, to Spokane Valley and back. Not my idea of a good time, but Uber is there when you need it.

I flip open the app, punch in a few buttons, and secure my ride. I’m in luck, as it turns out, because my Uber driver, at 4.97, has an almost perfect rating.

The silver SUV listed on the app pulls up, I hop in, and I first meet Anthony Bosley.

The ride is uneventful, which is good for an Uber ride, Bosley and I shoot the breeze, I tell him that I’m here to cover the events in the morning, and that the crowd of people partying I had spied was not what I’d expected to see based on things I’d heard about Spokane.

Boswell, knowledgeable of the local scene, clues me in about the presence of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, which probably helped kickstart things this evening. We then pass a bus, emblazoned with the markings of the WSU Cougars, parked outside of a hotel. On this night, and now early morning, it was going down in downtown Spokane.

We pull up to the motel, the Tiki Lodge, and I’m not encouraged by the presence of people who appear to be loitering in the parking lot. With a 2.5 star rating, I wasn’t expecting much. I thank Bosley, who has a surprise for me. He wonders how I’m going to make it to all of my events tomorrow. Bosley then hands me his card, which reads “Bosley’s Same Day Courier Service.” He then lets me know something a little deeper.

“I’m not just a driver, I was also granted clemency by President Obama.”

Exhausted from the 8 hour train ride from Portland, I wasn’t sure what to make of this.

“My number is on the card, send me a text, we’ll work it out,” Bosley says. He also says to look him up, and that he is the real deal. Bosley added that Uber doesn’t have a problem with him securing business in this way.

Stranger things have happened, and once I make it to my motel room, I Google Bosley, and the first thing that pops up is an Inlander article and a picture of Bosley, who is in fact the real deal. I then open the Uber app, give Bosley a 5-star rating based on the ride but also because he was, in fact, telling the truth. A conversation isn’t always a part of a ride–but if it is it had better be good and truthful, and ours was both.

[pullquote]“Most people have excuses when they get out, but I got my head together because I know that what I went to prison for doesn’t define who I am.” – Anthony Bosley[/pullquote]

Once an imprisoned former drug dealer who was not scheduled to be released until 2023, Bosley, 48, had been granted clemency by President Obama in 2015, and had now turned his life around and was running his own business. Of course I was going to contact him, if the price was right. I check the price from City Hall to Spokane Valley’s Centerplace Event Center, and then shoot a text to Bosley asking him how much it would be. The number he quotes is a little cheaper than the Uber ride.

“Right on! Deal.” I text back. I’d see Bosley at City Hall in the afternoon.

Bosley was actually about ten minutes earlier than our scheduled 2.30 pm pickup time, which was great. I wouldn’t have to peel off from the protest and wait for some random driver to show up. I could count on Bosley.

A little after 2:30 pm and I hop into his SUV. We hit the highway to Spokane Valley and shoot the breeze some more, and he tells me about what lead up to this moment.

‘If you’re a hustler, then you know how to make money,” says Bosley, who adds that anyone can sell drugs, but not everyone can make money. He goes on to tell me that when you’re in that kind of a life there are only two conclusions, “You get killed, or you get locked up.”

Not wanting to succumb once again to a life of crime, and also wanting to put his ability to make money to use, he had to secure legal, gainful employment as a free man in order to provide for his wife and eight kids.

“The most important thing was not doing anything that would jeopardize my family. I refused to take any job where I’d have to be looking over my shoulder,” he explains. So he put the experience he had gained being a materials coordinator in prison to use, and initially secured a job in a warehouse. Bosley, who also says that he obtained an associates degree in human resources while in the pen, was optimistic upon his release. “Most people have excuses when they get out, but I got my head together because I know that what I went to prison for doesn’t define who I am. My bosses knew that, too. That’s why they hired me.”

Bosley says that his driving business, Bosley’s Same Day Courier Service, has been successful and that “it caused me to quit my 9-5 job.” He adds that these days he has been so busy with his business that he barely has time to drive for Uber, but that the extra money does help.

For now, Bosley says that he is just going to keep doing what he is doing, which is not completely dissimilar to his prison job, except that the materials are people.

“My motto is this: My car is your car away from home,” he says. Bosley also says that once he reaches a certain level with his driving business he plans to hire other drivers.

Due to Bosley not having an app, I can’t rate his driving five stars, but I’m here to tell you that the man is a good driver, and the conversation about his request for clemency being granted was sublime.

 

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Alameda Brewhouse’s Lobster And Crab Mac And Cheese Review

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The lobster and crab mac and cheese was great

For reasons unknown to me, lobster macaroni and cheese have been on my mind. Those thoughts gave way to a craving, and I decided to cave and track down some Portland lobster mac and cheese. The closest thing I could find on the Grubhub app was Alameda Brewhouse’s lobster and crab mac and cheese meal — so that’s what I ordered.

The food arrived at my doorstep ten minutes earlier than the arrival time quoted to me by Grubhub, which in this case was a positive thing because I had just gotten back from Plaid Pantry. Had I been taking my time then the food might have gotten to my doorstep with nobody home to take the call, and that would have been a problem.

The first bite was good, and so were the second and third bites. In fact, nothing was wrong with the mac and cheese. I will say that it didn’t wow me, but then again I am a very picky eater and would characterize this kind of meal as exotic, and because I found nothing wrong with it I am giving this meal from this popular Portland location a 5/5. However, the meal came with  breadsticks, and they had some herbs on it that made it taste like it was burnt even though clearly they were not. I didn’t like the breadsticks, and I’m giving them a separate score of 2/5.

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The breadsticks were not good
A Counterprotester holds a sign outside Spokane City Hall

US Senate Candidate Joey Gibson Holds Sparsely Attended Campaign Rally in Spokane Valley

The always controversial Joey Gibson, who obtained notoriety by leading far-right Vancouver-based protest group Patriot Prayer, took his show on the road to Eastern Washington’s Spokane Valley, where a sparsely attended campaign rally was held at the Centerplace event center. Around Fifty people attended the event, while about as many attended a counterprotest organized by socialists in the region and held roughly ten miles to the west outside Spokane City Hall.

Socialist Alternative member David Brookbank holds a flag outside Spokane City Hall
Socialist Alternative member David Brookbank holds a flag outside Spokane City Hall

Today’s event was different than most of Gibson’s Patriot Prayer protests. There were only a handful of police in sight and even fewer counterprotesters on hand, which is a far cry from the rallies he has held in the western part of Washington state, Portland and Berkeley, which have at times drawn in excess of one thousand attendees and also police sporting riot gear, and have played host to beatdowns and bloody brawls.

Free appetizer coupons handed out at Gibson's rally.
Free appetizer coupons handed out at Gibson’s rally

Gibson, who sat down for a quick interview with Mike Bivins, is seeking the Republican nomination in a bid to unseat Maria Cantwell (D), who has represented Washington state as its junior senator since being elected in 2000.