MMA

Chael Sonnen Tells Incredible Story About Vince McMahon's Attempts To Sabotage The UFC

Chael Sonnen Tells Incredible Story About Vince McMahon's Attempts To Sabotage The UFC

While it seems as if their relationship has cooled in recent months, once upon a time all was not well between Vince McMahon and Dana White. 

Back in 2005, the UFC was making its first real mark in the United States. The first season of The Ultimate Fighter had introduced a much larger audience to the sport of mixed martial arts and, as it turned out, a lot of them liked it. The show, which introduced the world to future stars like Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian, was broadcast on Spike TV. It's lead-in? The WWE's flagship show Monday Night Raw. 

This presented a problem for Vince McMahon. Why would people watch his sports entertainment (read: fake) product, when there is a show with real athletic competition immediately following it? Not only that, Spike TV were advertising The Ultimate Fighter during Raw. 

For someone who has a track record of strangling all of his competition in the world of professional wrestling as Vince McMahon has done, this was unacceptable.

As Chael Sonnen (who it was announced today has signed with Bellator incidentally) tells the story on his podcast, things came to a head on October 7th 2005 - the very day that Sonnen made his UFC debut in an event headlined by then heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, who was earning $18,000 to fight and $18,000 to win.

According to Sonnen, earlier that week Vince McMahon contacted the UFC play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg to offer him $100,000 to no-show the UFC event. He can't tell the UFC in advance. He can't resign from the company. He just simply has to no-show the event.

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As Sonnen explains:

Goldberg does the right thing and the very first person he calls is Dana. Vince [had told Goldberg] that this call never happened and I will wire you the money on your word. Goldberg calls Dana and says, 'here's what just happened'. Dana not only gives Goldberg a new $500,000 contract but right then realised if [Vince] is willing to pay $100,000 for my announcer, who is replaceable, and I'm only paying my main event 18 & 18, I got a problem.

Dana realised that this is a level of thinking... [he] is just not competing at this level right now. Not only did Goldberg stay, not only did the business change, but the Ultimate Fighter never played Monday nights again. The Ultimate Fighter moved to Wednesdays and has never gone back.

11 years later, the relationship between Vince McMahon and Dana White has become one of mutual respect to the point where both companies borrow ideas from each other. The UFC took their flashy graphics and fighter entrances from the WWE while, since the growth of the UFC, has blended the world of pro wrestling and MMA in some of their on-screen personalities like The Undertaker and, of course, Brock Lesnar.

Speaking of Lesnar, the very fact that he (in his position as by far the biggest star in WWE) was allowed compete at UFC 200, as well as Ronda Rousey's appearance at Wrestlemania, suggests that both White and McMahon have found some sort of mutually beneficial middleground.

John Balfe

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