The Chael Sonnen/Tito Ortiz trash talk is turning white hot days before their Bellator 170 meeting. We've seen video of their decades-old wrestling match. We've heard both men spew disdain at the other while simultaneously getting emotional over their motivations for the fight. Now, we're back to 100% pure, unfiltered Chael Sonnen. The Chael Sonnen that made a name for himself not just for being a nearly insurmountable grinder, but by being a mouth no one could top.
Chael Sonnen went there on the MMA Hour:
...Those guys sucked back then. It just was a different deal, man. I mean, people weren’t watching, people weren’t participating. It was just a different deal in terms of, not only the techniques, the training, the coaching, but the level of athlete as well. And you do have some guys from back then who got a really good run, and Tito was the best. There was no one who could beat him, but it just also is a true statement to say that guys were not very good back then.”
First off, he's talking about both Tito Ortiz and BJ Penn, and frankly, he's not wrong. In fact, we still haven't seen world-class athletes enter MMA. Not until real money get thrown around will we see athletes get pulled away from the NBA, NFL or even the Premiere League to get punched in the head for a living. Look how far Matt Mitrione, essentially an NFL reject, has come.
That said, revisionist history will damn everyone when it comes to MMA. You're even seeing it with Ronda Rousey, whose reign was only ended recently. Scroll through an internet message board, and you'll have people making claims that Anderson Silva wasn't all that great, Jon Jones fought natural middleweights past their prime, and Fedor crushed cans. All of it is true to a degree, and all of it is mental masturbation that gets us nowhere. It's a confused sort of logic that serves little purpose than to vindicate the person saying it.
These people fought the best there was at the time. We can't go through history every two years, Wilt Chamberlin-ing everyone. Our favorite sport is young, it's ever-evolving, and as we saw with Yair Rodriguez destroying BJ Penn with his flashy and powerful style, it will continue to evolve. So, did the fighters suck back then? Relative to today, maybe. But that doesn't mean Tito didn't beat the best in the world at that time, which ironically, happened to be Chael's heyday as well.