Fighting words not yet connecting on Fedor Emelianenko for Chael Sonnen

After his win Saturday night, Fedor Emelianenko had some face time with Chael Sonnen but little was said. Dave Mandel/USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, Chael Sonnen was caught a little off guard.

Sonnen worked Saturday's Bellator 198 as a television analyst inside Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, and officials asked him to report to the cage shortly after Fedor Emelianenko's first-round victory over Frank Mir in the main event.

Sonnen (30-15-1) and Emelianenko (35-7) will face one another later this year in the semifinals of Bellator's Heavyweight World Grand Prix. In an obvious effort to start promoting the matchup, Bellator arranged a face-to-face.

The result was a little awkward. Sonnen dropped a one-liner, something about his dislike for Chicago and the Russian legend. Emelianenko did a fantastic job of ignoring him, which isn't surprising. In addition to his stoic personality, Emelianenko doesn't speak English.

"It was a nuisance for me, honestly," Sonnen told ESPN. "I was at the desk doing my job and they told me to go down. I didn't know what that would entail. The next thing I know, there's a microphone in front of me, but Fedor is looking away.

"I don't resent anybody for having me do it, but if I could redo the whole thing, I wouldn't do it. I'm talking to Fedor and he's over there talking to [his translator] Snow White."

Of course, Sonnen has time to turn it around. He expects the heavyweight bout to take place in October at Madison Square Garden.

The matchup itself is a little surreal, even though we've known it was possible for months.

Emelianenko, 41, is the greatest heavyweight of all time. And although he's no longer in his prime, Saturday's performance was arguably his best in years. Sonnen, also 41, is a longtime middleweight moonlighting as a light heavyweight/heavyweight for this latter part of his career.

At the same time, it's a classic Sonnen matchup, one that fits his M.O. perfectly. Not only does he have a history of facing some of the greatest fighters of all time (Jon Jones and Anderson Silva), he has a history of belittling them and their accomplishments before doing so.

"I've always been aggravated with the prima donnas of this sport, and they're everywhere," Sonnen said. "That's the reason I go after the guys I go after. As soon as I see a guy who is perceived to be better than everyone else and no one is calling him out because they're a bunch of cowards, I set an example and find that guy nobody wants to mess with. The last John Wayne in town needs to step up, and I realize that's me."


Fedor knocks out Mir in first round

Fedor Emelianenko catches Frank Mir and flattens him with a left hand. The former PRIDE heavyweight champ then finishes the fight with a few more punches.

Sonnen says he respects Emelianenko and the way he's carried himself, but questions the legitimacy of his highly regarded record. Emelianenko fought the majority of his career in Japan under the Pride Fighting Championship. For years, Sonnen has claimed many of those fights were fixed to help create superstars -- including Emelianenko.

"Their fights were fake. I was the first one to call that out," Sonnen said. "There is a reason those guys are going 22-0 in Japan and can't win a fight in America. Those referees had an earpiece in. That's corrupt and crooked, and I question every single record that ever happened in Japan."

Whether Sonnen truly believes that or it's the first stage of his promotional strategy for this matchup -- or maybe both -- he fully expects a difficult fight against Emelianenko.

But that's one thing Sonnen has never shied away from.

"Fedor has very bad intentions. He has power in his punches that others, myself for example, just aren't born with," Sonnen said. "I've seen him work out, doing things in a way coaches wouldn't tell you to do it, but he's a very, very special athlete.

"I'll have to sit down and figure it out. Fedor has always had the advantage in his division of being faster. He won't have that against me. I think people are also scared of him and don't go out there and compete. He won't have that advantage this time, either."