Chael Sonnen American Gangsta Comic CoverOne thing most people can agree on about Chael Sonnen is that he is one of the most polarizing figures in mixed martial arts. But that’s about it.

Not many people have the insight into Sonnen’s background to see how he became the brazen character that finally got under the skin of current UFC champion Anderson Silva, pushing and prodding him until he cracked and unleashed the brutal tirade we heard on the recent UFC 148 media conference call promoting their July 7 rematch.

Many will debate whether or not Sonnen even has a place in MMA, a sport that has roots in the more disciplined approach of traditional martial arts. Former WEC champion and current UFC interim title contender Urijah Faber isn’t among them.

“I think this sport needs guys like Chael Sonnen,” said Faber at a recent question and answer session.

He has the distinction of having known Sonnen for years. Their collegiate wrestling careers crossed over, so Faber has known Chael Sonnen well before he became “the American Gangsta,” and thinks he understands how Sonnen morphed into the personality that we know today.

“The guy was coming over from the WEC as world champion and then came over and got put on the undercard for the UFC. I think he chose to make a switch and said I need to stand out in this sport and just being the nice, intelligent guy that I am is not enough,” explained Faber.

“He probably won’t admit to that, but the guy made a switch and decided, hey, I’m gonna stand out in this sport. I’m gonna create my own opportunities and he does it in an interesting way that people either really hate or really love.”

And he’s right. How many of you out there just go, eh, I can live with or without Sonnen’s schtick? Most people are shouting his name from the rooftops, rooting for him to thrash Anderson Silva, or they’re decrying his very existence?

Which side of the line are you on?

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