Where is the best mixed martial arts training facility in the world? The next episode of the hit series Bodog Fight: new Jersey, may answer that question. Airing Tuesday, September 25 at 11 p.m. / 10 p.m. Central on the ION Television Network, the episode features a pair of middleweight fighters, from two of the best gyms in the world.
Training at the renowned Oregon gym, Team Quest under coach Robert Follis, 29-year-old Chael Sonnen (17-8-1) practices with world-class fighters like Matt "The Law" Lindland and "Dangerous" Dan Henderson. With impressive victories over Tim McKenzie, Alex Oleinik and Tim Credeur in Bodog Fight, it's obvious that being surrounded by such talent has helped Sonnen raise his own game.
It has helped his bank account as well. In fact, Sonnen's first round knockout of Credeur earned him the title of "favorite fighter" as voted by Bodog Fight viewers, and an extra fifty grand.
"Chael has always been good at fighting," says Lindland. "But in the past, he has treated the sport as a hobby whereas now he's in the gym full time putting in the extra work and his results are starting to show that."
With better results comes better competition, and Sonnen's next opponent is a good example. Armenian Amar Suloev (23-6) has fought some of the best in the sport, including Denis Kang, Chuck Liddell, Phil Baroni, and Din Thomas. His last fight, at Bodog Fight: Clash of the Nations in Russia, ended in just 26 seconds with opponent Andy Foster unconscious and convulsing on the canvas.
"No question, it's going to be a tough fight," says Sonnen. "Amar is strong and he punches and kicks hard."
At the famed Red Devil Sport Club in Russia, Suloev trains with his own team of top-notch fighters, including Fedor and Aleks Emelianenko.
"I grew up watching the Russian athletes and they're tough competitors," says Sonnen. "You only need to look at the medal count in any Olympics for proof the Russian take athletics seriously."
So what is the Oregonian's game plan for Suloev?
"I'm not looking to stand and trade punches with him," says Sonnen. "I'm not afraid to fight him standing up, but not at range. I'd rather get my hands on him and fight him in the clinch, or put him on his back. Either way, I'm prepared to fight hard for fifteen minutes."
Can't catch the action on ION Television (or The Fight Network in Canada)? All episodes of the Bodog Fight series are available worldwide through streaming video at Bodog Fight's website, with behind-the-scenes exclusives, fighter bios and additional footage only available online.