The best promo in the history of MMA has called it quits. A day after revealing he failed he drug test, Chael Sonnen has announced his retirement. Sonnen ends a six-year run in the UFC and leaves another big void for Dana White to fill.
[adinserter block=”2″]The news comes a day after it was revealed that Sonnen failed a surprise drug test prior to his scheduled UFC 175 bout against Vitor Belfort. The news appeared embarrassing on the surface after Sonnen spent the last two weeks ridiculing Wanderlei Silva for skipping out on his drug test. However, a more objective look at the story offers a much more polarizing view.
“There is a huge distinction between illegal versus banned. These are perfectly legal substances. These are not performance-enhancing drugs. These are not anabolics. These are not steroids of any kind. Look, they [the Nevada State Athletic Commission] changed the rules and I’ve got to comply with the rules. However, there is a transition period and I couldn’t have been more open or more transparent. Whether it was UFC TONIGHT, whether it was different interviews, anybody that I could tell or talk to about this, I did. And these are the medications that you have to go on to lead a healthy life. If they’re asking me to choose between my health and my sport, that’s not a choice I can make. I’ve got to choose health.”
The basic gist of the story is that Sonnen claims he was taking drugs to get his body back to normal after the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned TRT exemptions. The drugs in question are reportedly used for this purpose, yet for some reason Sonnen reportedly never told the commission. The fact that Sonnen never revealed to the commission prior to testing that he was using these drugs is what got him into trouble.
This wasn’t a clear case of a guy cheating to get ahead. My takeaway is that the NSAC needed a better plan when declaring TRT exemptions off limits. They should have either grandfathered in the guys like Sonnen who were exempt or shown some leeway when it came to medications used to get their bodies back to normal.
Now my first thought is that Sonnen should have just waited a few more months to get his body back to normal before signing to fight. However, it suddenly occurred to me that Sonnen’s fight was originally scheduled for Brazil. Who knows what kind of testing Brazil would have done? Sonnen never signed for a fight in Vegas, circumstances just happened to dictate that.
Sonnen is arguably the second biggest star in the UFC after Ronda Rousey. There is nobody better at talking people into the seats than Sonnen. This leaves a tremendous void in a company that is losing stars faster than they can make them. In just the last few years they have lost Georges St-Pierre, Sonnen, Brock Lesnar, and while Anderson Silva hasn’t retired, he is at least out until next year. A guy like Sonnen is going to be almost impossible to replace.
[adinserter block=”2″]Say what you will about Sonnen but he had arguably the greatest fight in UFC history against Anderson Silva. He may not have an impressive record (1-3 in his last four), but he understood the art of selling a fight better than anyone ever has or probably ever will. His numbers back it up against Anderson Silva and even his fight last year against Jon Jones.
I will miss him. As much as I found him to be a bigger hypocrite than most at times, he made the UFC fun. There isn’t a whole lot of fun in the UFC these days. Without Sonnen, there probably won’t be much fun in the UFC for a long time.