UFC fighter asks to touch ESPN anchor Sage Steele’s hair during interview

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It’s not exactly a question that goes over well anywhere, let alone live television.

But don’t tell that to UFC fighter Chael Sonnen, who asked ESPN anchor Sage Steele if he could touch her hair during an interview on ESPN‘s SportsCenter Tuesday.

Sonnen appeared on the program to promote his upcoming pay-per-view bout with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

After vowing to put Jones on his ‘ass,’ Sonnen quickly shifted gears and asked to touch Steele’s hair.

“I love your hair,” Sonnen said after he awkwardly leaned in to rub the top of Steele’s head. “That’s real hair people and it’s very soft, I might add.”

All Steele could do was laugh.

“I have no idea what I just asked you,” Steele remarked, briefly flustered by the comment.

Steele laughed off the incident on Twitter Tuesday afternoon:

To close the segment, Steele, who is African-American, posed her original question once again to Sonnen: Did he need to “hate” his opponents in order to have success in his match?

“No I don’t hate people, for heaven’s sake, especially women,” Sonnen concluded.

Like many anchors, Steele has been no stranger to awkward exchanges on live television.

Last year around this time, her EPSN co-anchor Steve Weissman joked she had been flirting with a SportsCenter guest, NFL wide receiver Wes Welker.

Understandably, Steele did not appreciate the dig.

According to her company bio, Steele joined the ESPN in 2007 and has worked in television broadcasting since she graduated from Indiana University (Bloomington) in 1995. 

Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj