As of late 2009, Chael Sonnen has become the MMA community’s favorite sound bite, constantly providing entertaining commentary and self-promotion. After testing positive for illegal substances in a post-fight drug screen, Sonnen was forced to drop off the radar and deal with the problem. After a roller coaster of events kept him from returning to the octagon, one might wonder: Is Chael ever coming back?
Chael Sonnen shocked the world after beating the unbeatable Anderson Silva for 23 minutes when many said he didn’t have a prayer against the champion. He then shocked the MMA community again after testing positive for artificial testosterone after the fight. Sonnen appeared before the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to plead his case, claiming the artificial testosterone was doctor ordered to counteract a medical condition that caused his testosterone to be abnormally low.
Sonnen’s case partially held, and his sentence was reduced to a 6-month suspension as opposed to 12-months. The details of Sonnen’s case, and his use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy are hotly debated, as the tests requiring one to undergo the therapy can be fabricated. Regardless of the controversy, measures are being taken to ensure that even individuals undergoing such therapy do not enter a fight with abnormally high levels of testosterone.
Sonnen, poised to make his return to the MMA world at the beginning of 2011, rocked the headlines yet again with news that he was being indicted on charges of money laundering. This prompted UFC president Dana White to temporarily freeze Sonnen’s contract so Chael could “Get his life together.”
The story gets worse, if that’s possible at this point. Details have recently come to light from NSAC head Keith Kizer about some major plot holes in the story Sonnen spent the last year spinning. Sonnen claimed he had spoken to Kizer concerning his therapy, and also claimed Kizer had given him approval on his TRT. Kizer, when made aware of Sonnen’s claims stated he had never spoken with the fighter on any matter, let alone give him approval for the treatment. This and other slight inconsistencies with the truth in Sonnen’s story have put him at odds with the commission, which can only make his life difficult.
Let’s get back to Sonnen’s legal troubles before moving on. In his trial on april 9th, Sonnen pled guilty to charges of money laundering over a real estate deal. Sonnen was caught offering buyers tens of thousands of dollars on the side to “sweeten the deal” on houses he was selling. The maximum penalty for this crime is 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 dollars in fines. Luckily, 2 decades in the slammer was avoided, he was able to plea-bargain the sentence down to $10,000 in fines and 2 years of probation.
It’s a shame, really. One of MMA’s most charismatic and entertaining individuals is turning out to be a deplorable human being.
That said, I for one am willing to turn a blind eye to Chael’s transgressions and jump right back on his bandwagon, so long as he keeps me laughing! Society can look at him however they like, but on the list of celebrities with a rap sheet, Sonnen’s crimes would barely scratch the surface. I’m not endorsing cheating, if indeed he cheated, but the MMA community was a brighter, happier place when Chael was cracking wise every other day with grade-A material. As long as he stays out of trouble, I’ll be the first to welcome him back with open arms.
Good thing the story is nearing its end. Sonnen is closing in on a return to the limelight once again. Legal troubles behind him, the UFC has expressed interest in having Sonnen coach The Ultimate Fighter opposite british fighter Michael Bisping. For the media hungry Sonnen, this would be a dream come true. The only thing standing in his way is the NSAC who, unfortunately, are not his biggest fans at the moment. Sonnen has to convince them to not only approve the fight with Michael Bisping, but also to grant him a secondary license to coach on The Ultimate Fighter. With a little brown-nosing, however, its only a matter of time before he returns to the MMA community that both loves him, and loves to hate him.