- UFC 159
Sonnen: I could never replace 'idol' Dana White
Chael Sonnen has no idea what the future holds following Saturday's UFC light-heavyweight fight with Jon Jones, but one thing he is sure of is that he will not replace Dana White as president.
Sonnen has previously claimed he has no contract with the UFC, turning up on a one-fight-at-a-time basis, with Jones his latest challenge at UFC 159 this weekend.
Should he lose, the American will have suffered defeat in three title shots in the space of five fights. Such a record may well leave him without a great deal of relevance in either the middleweight or light-heavyweight divisions.
President White said at a fan event on Wednesday that he did not know what Sonnen's next move would be, and it seems the fighter himself is also keeping his options open.
"I don't ever think about that and I don't want to know either. I try not to plan too far ahead, especially if you're going to stay in this industry. It's evolving so fast," Sonnen told ESPN at Madison Square Garden.
As the sport's finest talker, Sonnen could reasonably be viewed as the type of personality to steer the UFC ship whenever the tireless White eventually decides to take a back seat. However, Sonnen insists he could not possibly fill White's shoes.
"No," he answered when asked if he might step into White's role in the future. "He's the greatest, if this was a public company and anything happened to Dana, the stock would plummet. It would move on, but it'd be different. He's brilliant, I look up to him and he's my idol. I try to emulate him to the best of my ability.
"Dana White is known as the promoter, but he's an executive producer, he has five TV shows, three of them top of the ratings, two are climbing. He has magazines, video games, merchandising, it's truly amazing how many hats he can wear and how well he wears them."
Former fighters, such as Chuck Liddell, have taken on ambassadorial roles within the UFC, but Sonnen says he would like to get his hands dirty whenever the time comes for him to retire.
"I want a hands-on position [whenever I retire], there's a lot of stuff I see that I'd like to run with, I could definitely create a job for myself - that's not what I'm attempting to do right now!
"I love [the UFC], I'm loyal, I get offered huge contracts for other things but I don't even take them to Dana, I tell those people 'no'. I'll be with the company forever."