Chael Sonnen’s mixed martial arts career could be over today after a California State Athletic Commission hearing ended with the controversial fighter’s current indefinite suspension being upheld.
Sonnen had been called before CSAC to explain why testimony he gave in a previous hearing (which had resulted in his suspension for using testosterone prior to his UFC 117 title fight Anderson Silva being halved) had later been proven to be misleading, particularly in regards to alledged conversations he had claimed to have had with NSAC commissioner Keith Kizer.
The fact that Sonnen had also since been convicted on a money laundering charge which resulted in a suspended sentence was also under scrutiny as CSAC deliberated whether to lift his current suspension.
At the hearing Sonnen revealed that he was currently under consideration for a high profile coaching role opposite Michael Bisping on The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 which begins filming soon, with the winner of their subsequent fight being expected to be installed as the next No.1 contender at 185lbs.
According to the 34 year-old, not only would this “once in a lifetime opportunity” be ruled out if he didn’t get his license back, but he also stated that Dana White had informed him that it would also mean he was “effectively retired.”
“I worked for this chance my whole life. I don’t want to retire today,” Sonnen stated in an uncharacteristic display of emotion, but it appears the sentiment fell on deaf ears.
After hearing all the relevant testimony it was time for CSAC to make their ruling, and by a 4-1 majority they voted to uphold Sonnen’s suspension, stating that his recent actions have discredited the sport of MMA.
It remains to be seen whether Sonnen will in fact now retire, but at the very least today’s ruling means that he won’t be fighting again anytime in the near future.
That’s a huge blow financially as much as anything else for the fighter who earlier in the year had also been forced to give up his Realtor’s license as part of a plea deal to keep him out of prison following his fraud conviction.
It’s also a blow for the UFC, with Sonnen having developed into a marketable fighter. His continued suspension weakens the upper reaches of the middleweight division, and leaves them scrambling to find a new coach pairing for the next season of TUF which begins filming in a matter of weeks.
One of the first people to react to the news was the fighter who had been in the running to appear on the show opposite him, Michael Bisping, and he admitted he was disappointed by the ruling.
“Gutted for chael sonnen, people make mistakes.He paid his dues and should be allowed to continue with his career. Real shame for the guy. I did wanna fight him,as it would of been awesome, and a no1 contender matchup, but my own personal wants aside, I do truly feel for the guy.”