IMAGE: Jonathan Hill
Oregon legislative candidate and mixed-martial arts fighter Chael Sonnen is making quite a reputation for himself.
Unfortunately and Rogue-ishly, telling the truth isn’t part of that reputation.
The former University of Oregon All-American wrestler is the Republican nominee in what will be a hotly contested race in House District 37 (West Linn and part of Washington County). Sonnen, 33, is also a leading middleweight fighter (185 pounds or less) in the Ultimate Fighting Championship series. He faces world champ Anderson Silva on Aug. 7 in Oakland.
And in pre-fight interviews, Sonnen has gone aggressively after Silva, a Brazilian.
“I’m going to put him on his prissy little ass,” Sonnen told reporters at an April press conference, according to the mixed-martial arts website Sherdog.com.
In subsequent Twitter posts, Sonnen upped the ante.
“Anderson, you are going to be on your back more than a pornstar with a mortgage,” Sonnen tweeted May 26.
Then Sonnen went after Ed Soares, who manages several Brazilian fighters, including Silva, who is black.
“Ed, pray to whatever Demon effigy you prance and dance in front of with your piglet tribe of savages that I decide not to CRUCIFY you,” Sonnen tweeted on May 31.
That comment is obviously within Sonnen’s First Amendment rights and we wouldn’t Rogue him for that. But we’d expect him to come clean about it.
MMA fan and blogger Dedrick Muhammad wrote last week in The Huffington Post that Sonnen’s comments are “racist” and “xenophobic.” We, too, were curious about the comments and asked Sonnen about them. Sonnen denied making them.
“I don’t have a Twitter account,” he wrote WW in a June 7 email. He repeated that denial in another email the next day.
But in a televised April 28, 2010, interview (see wweek.com/sonnen_twitter), Sonnen not only said he had a Twitter account but spelled out the address—which is the source of the tweets detailed above.
Sonnen, who Marion and Clackamas county elections officials say has voted in just 12 of 33 elections since 1996, isn’t the first Oregon mixed-martial arts fighter to try punching his way into politics. In 2008, Matt “The Law” Lindland ran unsuccessfully as the Republican nominee in House District 52 (which includes parts of Clackamas and Hood River counties).
But while both fighters-turned-pols are prone to provocative rhetoric, there’s one difference: Lindland never ran from his. When asked to reconcile his previous denials of the Twitter account with his earlier televised acknowledgement of that account, Sonnen declined to take responsibility, saying only, “Run with it…looks like a great conspiracy story!”