The discussion on the topic came after MMA coach Rafael Cordeiro said he wants to see third-ranked UFC lightweight Beneil Dariush serve as the backup fighter for the title bout between Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier. Commending the move made by Cordeiro, Chael Sonnen went on a rant about how fighters do not value being the backup fighter anymore. He said:
"This back-up fighter business is very real. It is some of the best marketing, it is some of the best positioning, it is one of the best pieces you can move on the chess board today. And I haven't the foggiest idea how so many people are missing it."
Sonnen went on to highlight the key event that transformed the narrative. He said:
"There was nothing wrong with it. It wasn't a cool position, it wasn't the uncool position. It was just a position, for a while. Then, Conor McGregor came out and said, 'I'm not a back-up fighter', as though it was an insult. And all of a sudden, everybody wanted to follow Conor McGregor. Well you can follow Conor McGregor and be just as unemployed as Conor McGregor was that night, or you can follow Kamaru Usman, who became a back-up fighter and his next fight was for the title, or you can follow Michael Chandler, who became a back-up fighter and his next fight was for the title... "
Chael Sonnen believes it was McGregor's success that made all the other fighters follow his choices. Leaving a piece of advice for the fighters who are looking to make their mark in the MMA world, Chael Sonnen said:
"I don't know if my bigger problem is with guys not seeing it [opportunity], or if my bigger problem is guys not wanting to do it because Conor McGregor made a statement one time. We see guys all the time in this sport trying to follow somebody else. It doesn't work. You can try to be the next Conor McGregor, or you can be the first you."
Chael Sonnen explains why Conor McGregor was wrong to turn down backup fighter offer
'The American Gangster' believes that Conor McGregor was wrong to turn down the offer to fight as a backup. He said that those who began following in his footsteps were even more in the wrong. Chael Sonnen said:
"... you think Conor got it all right because he's had some big main events and made a few bucks? You think he's never got one wrong? I mean, things happen. That is one that Conor got wrong. That made him not go to work that night, not get an opportunity that night. That's not the one that you want to follow."
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