Chael Sonnen was sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine for his part in a money laundering case. It would appear that Chael Sonnen can resume his MMA career at this point and begin his quest towards a UFC middleweight title shot and rematch one of the greatest fights in UFC history.
The sentencing on Friday closes Sonnen’s legal problems which arose back in January. In January Chael Sonnen pled guilty to his part in a mortgage fraud scheme which involved money laundering. As part of his plea, he admitted “that a financial transaction he conducted was designed to conceal or disguise the ownership and control of the proceeds of wire fraud according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Oregon district.”
[adinserter block=”2″]The sentencing was only a part of a seven month downward spiral for the former UFC middleweight #1 contender. Sonnen was on top of the world back in August after coming within a half of a minute of defeating Anderson Silva for the UFC championship. Sonnen and Silva drew a huge buyrate thanks to Sonnen’s fantastic promos leading up to the fight and earned Sonnen more stardom and money than he ever achieved in MMA. Unfortunately for Sonnen his career and life seemed to take a fall for the worse the second he tapped to Silva at UFC 117.
Sonnen’s pre-fight drug test came up positive. He was immediately served a suspension. A rematch which would have earned him more money than the first fight with Silva was canceled. Just as Sonnen was on his way back to the octagon, he wound up pleading guilty as part of the mortgage fraud case. Yet another fight was canceled, this time with Akiyama (which would have just happened two weeks ago). His UFC contract was frozen until sentencing. Sonnen is accused of lying during his appearance before the CSAC which has still put him in some jeopardy, so he isn’t totally out of the water. As a matter of a fact he could face potential charges about lying under oath. The alleged fabrication has already cost him a potential gig coaching on The Ultimate Fighter although a window, albeit small still remains open on that one.
The irony here is that up until the Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva fight, Chael Sonnen was just another UFC middleweight. If not for Sonnen’s brash and outspoken UFC 117 promos during the build up, chances are that he would have received much less public attention for his little soap opera of the last several months. Even more ironic is that Sonnen called Silva a liar multiple times during those UFC 117 promos, specifically for his inability to speak English. Sonnen has now opened himself up for a ton of ridicule and has greatly compromised his integrity.
I think the UFC is better off without Chael Sonnen at this point. Most MMA fans see Sonnen as a complete joke right now and won’t take any of his pro wrestling interviews seriously at all. In theory his contract should be reinstated and it appears that the UFC are trying to get him into a high profile fight as soon as possible.
The biggest problem here is that Sonnen will try and sell tickets to his future fights with his over the top promos. Problem being that any opponent will just come back at him and call him a liar, a thief, a cheat, or a criminal. Sonnen also made some serious allegations against cyclist Lance Armstrong and more or less called him a liar, comments he denied although his voice can be clearly heard making these claims on a radio show.
[adinserter block=”1″]Most other fighters would respect their opponent and bury the dirt but Sonnen has become so vilified in the UFC that I can’t see anyone taking it easy on him. Additionally, at some point he is going to have to face the MMA media who aren’t going to cut him any breaks either. Maybe people buy his next fight because they want to badly see him lose, but once that happens all you have is another tragic case.
And there is still that Keith Kizer matter. Zuffa, Sonnen, and Kizer had a meeting recently where they tried to smooth over the troubles and work towards getting Sonnen a license. Anyone that thinks that the UFC has the power to do anything is wrong, at least for now. According to Meltzer’s report, Kizer is very upset, Sonnen is still dancing around the truth, and at this point he won’t get licensed to coach.
“With his explanations, I don’t know how productive of a meeting it was,” Kizer said in an interview with MMAJunkie.com. “I really did expect a much more constructive meeting out of that. But it just wasn’t there. I think Zuffa tried; I know we tried. I put the blame completely on Mr. Sonnen.” – MMAJunkie.com
Kizer also told the website that Sonnen will have to reappear in front of the California State Athletic Commission to answer these allegations and discuss his guilty plea. Unfortunately for Sonnen, Kizer told the website that he has now taken a high interest in Sonnen’s case.
“I usually just give that administratively to cornermen. But I will not do that for Mr. Sonnen.”
Chael Sonnen has yet to publicly comment on the sentencing or his conflict with Kizer. Not that anyone would believe a word he’d say anyway.
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