Just when you thought it was safe for him to get back in the octagon, Chael Sonnen’s future in the UFC is once again in jeopardy.

A press release from the US Attorney’s Office in Oregon  reveals that Sonnen today plead guilty in court to a federal money laundering charge.

Sonnen, who aside from his MMA career is also a licensed Realtor in Oregon, “admitted that a financial transaction he conducted was designed to conceal or disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud.

The transaction is believed to have involved Sonnen arranging for a title company to pay a $69,000 bill in 2006 for plumbing repairs on a home that were in fact never carried out. Instead $65,000 of that money eventually found it’s way back to the buyer as a cash incentive to purchase the home.

“West Linn residents, and other residents throughout the Portland-Vancouver area, can rest assured knowing that federal law enforcement agencies take mortgage fraud very seriously because it played a major role in almost crippling this nation’s banking system just a few years ago,” IRS Special Agent Marcus Williams noted in the press release.

Sonnen will be sentenced on March 28th.  Money Laundering carries a maximum 20 year jail sentence and $500,000 fine.

The former middleweight No.1 contender has not had his troubles to seek in recent times.  Last year after a rapid rise to fame he came within minutes of defeating Anderson Silva and claiming his middleweight title, before being submitted in the final round.

It would later be discovered that Sonnen had tested positive for a performance enhancing drug, Testosterone, which resulted in a 12 month suspension.  He appealed in December however and had his suspension reduced to six months.

That appeared to leave Sonnen clear to resume his UFC career in March and there was even speculation at one stage that he might coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Today’s developments rule out either scenario, and it’s now unclear if and when Sonnen may next set foot in the octagon.

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