It was a proud moment for Scott McQuary when Chael Sonnen cinched an arm-triangle choke that forced Brian Stann to tap out.
McQuary, who joined forces with Sonnen three months prior as a jiu-jitsu and muay Thai coach, said the submission was one of a handful drilled into the fighter over the course of training camp.
"I saw it as an opportunity – because in all of Chael's fights previously, he was always in those positions," McQuary on Monday told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "He had people's backs. He had the mount. He had side control, and it was just a matter of a little tweaking to see where the opening was, and then working on the finish."
Chael Sonnen, the submission artist? That's a big departure for the onetime middleweight challenger's run inside the octagon. Until Saturday's UFC 136 event, Sonnen had finished exactly none of his nine fights unless, of course, it was he who was tapping out.
One of McQuary's first tasks, then, was to help bat a monkey off Sonnen's back: submission defense. A triangle/armbar combination halted what was up until that point the most notable performance of the fighter's life when he met champ Anderson Silva at UFC 117 and submitted in the fifth and final round. Sonnen had dominated the fight all the way to the unexpected ending.
So when it was Stann submitting in the second round, McQuary, who is also a head coach at Team Quest Tualatin in Tualatin, Ore., knew he'd done his job.
"It felt fantastic," he said. "It solidified everything we've been working on. That submission was specifically part of what we worked on. I've been focusing on three basic submissions in particular, so that was one of them – part of a transition going from the mount to side control to the back."
Sonnen reached all three positions during the fight, which may have opened the door for a rematch with Silva in February. But it was from top position that he set up the finish, and Stann may have helped him out.
"I think the arm triangle is also one of the most difficult submissions to get out of, especially for a guy like Stann, who has such big shoulders," McQuary said. "He has such a big chin. We knew that getting Chael's shoulder underneath that chin and locking that arm across ... when you've got big [deltoids] like that, that presses it into your own carotid and actually brings it on even stronger."
Will NSAC give Sonnen go-ahead for Super Bowl weekend rematch?
As MMAjunkie.com earlier reported, UFC president Dana White said he expects Sonnen to be licensed in Nevada if a rematch with Silva materialized the day before the Super Bowl.
"There's no reason they shouldn't license Chael," White said. "It shouldn't even cross my mind the thought of whether Chael could get licenses in Nevada or California or anywhere. It should be the least of my worries. The guy did everything he was told to do.
"When guys like Floyd (Mayweather) are getting licensed in Nevada, why should I have to worry about Chael?"
Sonnen surprised the crowd following Saturday's win by naming the weekend of the world's annual must-see sporting event as the date for a second fight. The insults that preceded his proposed booking? Not so much.
If Nevada is indeed the site for the rematch – the UFC has made Vegas its one-stop destination for Super Bowl weekend – it follows that Sonnen will need a fight license in the state. That would put him in the path of Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer, who served as a witness during a hearing in May in which the California State Athletic Commission upheld a second, indefinite suspension issued to him a month prior.
The suspension – handed out when the CSAC determined Sonnen lied during an appeal of an earlier suspension for elevated levels of testosterone and presented a discredit to MMA when he was convicted on a single federal charge of money laundering – ended in late June, which freed the fighter to apply for a license in any jurisdiction.
Kizer said today that Sonnen has yet to apply for a license, and can't do so until Dec. 1, when applications for 2012 licenses become available.
As to whether Sonnen will face additional scrutiny due to his past, Kizer declined to speculate.
"Too early to tell," he said. "I'm hopeful anyone who applies can get licensed and they can meet their burden, but I'm not going to speculate on anybody specifically."
Silva's camp, meanwhile, is not necessarily ready to sign off on the rematch. Manager Ed Soares said the champ's recovery from a nagging case of bursitis in his shoulder – and not Sonnen's call-out – will determine the date of a possible rematch.
"Would it be a big fight? It would be a huge fight, but right know, it's not so much who he's going to fight and when," Soares said of a potential rematch. "It's making sure Anderson gets back to 100 percent before he gets in there."