It may sound like one of the most bizarre propositions in the history of professional grappling, but Chael Sonnen actually tried to book a match between UFC Hall of Famer Georges St-Pierre and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal at one point in time. Of course St-Pierre is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time and an incredible grappler, so naturally he is usually open to the idea of grappling matches. It’s one thing for him to compete against a fellow welterweight or middleweight though and another thing entirely for him to compete against a former professional athlete who is over seven foot tall and weighs well over 300lbs though.
Sonnen explained how the match between Georges St-Pierre and Shaquille O’Neal almost came to be, but he didn’t elaborate on what eventually caused the proposition to fade into the distance without ever being made:
“I was promoting, doing a grappling match. I got a call from Din Thomas. Din Thomas was working with Shaquille O’Neal. He was training Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq wanted do to a match. So I was like: “Okay”, and I found another NBA guy, training out in California, who plays for the Lakers.”
“I’m running all this behind the scenes, right, running past Dana (White), trying to get the numbers, calling ESPN, seeing if we can get on Sportscenter… Whatever Shaq was gonna do, they were very interested. And I told Din: “You know what? If Shaq really wants to compete, I think this Laker is probably a really good idea… We got a real easy story to tell; two basketball players, two big guys who’ve never done it before… But what if it was Georges St-Pierre?”
“Din laughed. But I said: “Think about it. If this is for fun, if this is for exposure, we could take the competitive aspect out of it right away. So now it is just for fun, and we could put Shaq in there with Georges St-Pierre.” We had some further talks but then I make my call. I call Dana, I call ESPN. They say: “We’re breaking it on Sportscenter tonight if you have that signed.” They didn’t say that for anything else that we had done. They said: “We will break it on Sportscenter tonight to announce St-Pierre vs. Shaquille O’Neal on Submission Underground.”
Chael Sonnen made the revelation of the most bizarre grappling match that never came to be between Georges St-Pierre and Shaquille O’Neal on a recent video that he uploaded to his official YouTube channel: