Sonnen was at technically at work when the extracurricular fight took place, and some MMA observers might argue the same for Sean Strickland and Dricus Du Plessis when they sat a few rows apart at UFC 296, arguably setting the stage for their brawl.
“It’s not as though there weren’t repercussions – Strickland got thrown out,” Sonnen said on The MMA Hour. “That’s how security handles these things. There always becomes a question of what level of authority needs to do it, and there seems to be this idea that it needs to be the sport, or the governing body. That gets a little bit strange for me.”
UFC 296 provided several cringe-worthy moments of fighter behavior, and the Strickland vs. Du Plessis brawl – which took place just over one month from their sanctioned fight at UFC 297 – was top of mind when pundits discussed the UFC’s personnel issues.
There is only so much the UFC can do to keep its fighters from fighting each other, Sonnen believes.
“The police have the right to arrest them if they wanted to – you had security that stepped in,” Sonnen said. “The way they chose to handle it was to remove one from the facility and tell him he’d be trespassing if he came back.”
“It’s not as though that wasn’t dealt with,” Sonnen added. “But no, I don’t like that stuff. I’m not a prude about it, but that isn’t fight promotion – that’s fighting, and that isn’t sanctioned fighting. That’s illegal fighting.”
Sonnen also wonders why Strickland and Du Plessis were ever put in that position in the first place. When he brawled with Silva, the Brazilian fighter was a critical part of the reality show. There was no reason the champ and challenger needed to be that close, and White and the UFC take extraordinary steps to prevent such occurrences.
As much as Sonnen likes a good verbal brawl, a physical one is something he doesn’t condone.
“I’m not a prude, but I don’t like when the punches get thrown,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to have these back and forth [interactions], and you got to have a level of honor, and no, I didn’t like that.”