After being pulled from a UFC 175 matchup against Vitor Belfort because of a failed random drug test, Chael Sonnen has officially announced his retirement from competitive MMA. The 37-year-old Sonnen was one of the promotion’s best-ever when it came to selling a fight and became a major pay-per-view draw during his UFC tenure. He will forever be linked to his legendary feud and battles with former middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Sonnen, who made the announcement on UFC Tonight, was a solid fighter with a strong wrestling pedigree who took his career to a whole new level with his trash-talking skills and bombastic personality. After a pedestrian 1-2 record in his initial UFC tenure, he became one of the most prominent figures in the organization during his second go-round.
Sonnen had three unsuccessful title shots during his colorful career. Two of those opportunities came against Silva while the third came against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Sonnen was a top-tier competitor in both the 185 and 205-pound divisions.
He was a fighter who was always willing to face anyone at any time and established himself as a true company man. “The American Gangster” produced a 28-14-1 career record with his last UFC appearance being a first-round knockout loss at UFC 167 against Rashad Evans.
Sonnen holds notable Octagon victories over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Michael Bisping, Yushin Okami, Brian Stann and Nate Marquardt. He’s already made a successful transition for his post-Octagon career in his current role as an analyst for FOX Sports.
Sonnen made headlines earlier in the week when it was revealed that he had tested positive for a pair of banned substances in a random drug test that was conducted in late-May. The veteran, who was in a transition phase off of TRT after the Nevada Commission banned testosterone-replacement-therapy, maintained he needed to take Clomiphene and Anastrozole to maintain a healthy life.
Unfortunately for Sonnen, both substances are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and he was pulled from the July 5 fight against “The Phenom”. That spelled the end of a fighting career that began in 1997.
The Oregon native did have his share of controversy. There was of course this week’s firestorm and he was also suspended by the California Athletic Commission for high testosterone levels in the post-fight drug test after his title clash against Silva at UFC 117. That night in Oakland may have been Sonnen’s finest hour despite the bitter defeat.
He dominated the seemingly invincible champion for four rounds before falling victim to a miraculous submission by Silva in the final round of an incredible fight. “The Spider” would finish Sonnen in the second round of their highly-anticipated rematch at UFC 148. Sonnen made a special reference to Silva in his retirement announcement as being the opponent who helped to make him a genuine star.
Sonnen had one of those personalities where people seemed to either love or hate him; he knew how to the play the game when it came to the entertainment aspect of the sport. Sonnen was a competitor who certainly made the most of his skills. He was known for his takedown abilities and his relentless pressure. No one was better at promoting a fight as his gift-of-gab was second to none. “The People’s Champ” may not have been the best fighter on the UFC roster, but he was definitely one of its most charismatic.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports