Stunning Fall From Grace For Former UFC Superstar Chael Sonnen

By Rick LaFitte
Chael Sonnen makes way to the Octagon to face Rashad Evans at UFC 167
Getty Images

There would no opportunity for former UFC superstar Chael Sonnen to try and somehow talk his way out of this one. After news broke that he had failed a second random drug test for having Human Growth Hormone and EPO in his system, the UFC and FOX Sports were quick to terminate his broadcasting contract.

Not surprisingly, the charismatic Sonnen had developed into a strong on-air talent as a co-host of UFC Tonight and his panel appearances during live events on the network. However, what appeared to be a perfect post-fight career for Sonnen has now gone up in smoke after those ties were severed. The second failed test was conducted six days before Sonnen officially announced his retirement.

“The American Gangster” originally announced he was bringing the curtain down on his MMA career just one day after it was announced he had failed a random drug test prior to his scheduled UFC 175 matchup against Vitor Belfort. Sonnen was pulled from the card but took to the airwaves on FOX Sports 1 along with UFC President Dana White to maintain that he was taking Anastrozole and Clomiphene to make a transition after the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned testosterone replacement therapy.

Sonnen contended that he needed to take those substances to maintain a healthy lifestyle now that he was working his way off of TRT. The 37-year-old was steadfast he wasn’t breaking any rules because the test occurred out-of-competition and that he wasn’t using steroids or performance-enhancing drugs. What he failed to mention was both Anastrozole and Clomiphene are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

While there were seemingly some holes in Sonnen’s original argument he seemed to be getting the benefit of the doubt. While he had retired as a UFC competitor he seemed destined to remain a face of the organization thanks to his high-profile role with FOX Sports. However, that all changed after the second failed test and the response was swift and harsh with the damning findings of HGH and EPO.

It was a move that simply had to be made. There was a previous precedent set by Showtime for a similar scenario. That network parted ways with former light heavyweight boxing champion Antonio Tarver as an analyst after he tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid in 2012.

While Sonnen was very good in his TV role displaying his quick-wit and genuine enthusiasm for the sport, both the UFC and FOX Sports would have been losing credibility by having him remain on the air. It would’ve been tough to take seriously the thoughts of a three-time drug test offender when discussing the pressing issues of the day.

For example, Sonnen going on a rant about another UFC fighter failing a post-fight drug test would be the height of hypocrisy. Sonnen was previously suspended by the California Athletic Commission after testing positive for high testosterone levels after his remarkable first middleweight title fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 117 before these latest controversies.

Sonnen had quite a transformation from a middle-of-the-road fighter to a UFC superstar in his second Octagon tenure. His pro-wrestling style persona made him a polarizing figure who became a major PPV draw. Fans may have had a love-hate relationship with Sonnen but were always interested in seeing him fight.

“The People’s Champ” had three failed UFC championship fights against Silva and Jon Jones at the height of his time in the promotion and seemed poised to enjoy a bright post-fight career. White had even talked about Sonnen possibly taking over for him someday. Unfortunately, it was three strikes and you’re out when it came to Sonnen remaining a UFC ambassador and for his broadcasting career.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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