Chael Sonnen Hasn’t Closed the Door on Fighting Yet, but Retirement is Staring Him in the Face

April 30, 2013
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Chael SonnenChael Sonnen realizes that as long as Jon Jones and Anderson Silva have UFC belts wrapped around their waists that it is unlikely that he’ll ever sniff a title shot should he continue to fight.

That fact alone – considering what he said following Saturday night’s loss to Jon Jones – should close the door on his fighting career. It should, but Sonnen has left the door cracked open, if ever so slightly.

“I’m gonna think it through,” he told Joe Rogan in the Octagon when asked about retirement. “I’m not gonna be one of these guys that hangs around if there isn’t a road to the title. I think that was probably my last opportunity.”

The retirement talk swirling around Sonnen isn’t for the fact that he’s irrelevant in the Octagon. His record during his recent run in the UFC is 5-4. That’s not stellar on the surface, but if you look deeper, there’s actually some meat on the bone.

Sonnen lost his return to the Octagon back in 2009, being submitted by Top 10 fighter Demian Maia. In the four years since, he has since only lost to two men that, alongside Georges St-Pierre, are considered among the three best fighters of all time: Anderson Silva, twice, and Jon Jones.

The five fighters on Sonnen’s hit list are no slouches either. Four of the five have been considered Top 10 at one time or another, and include Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, Nate Marquardt, Brian Stann, and Michael Bisping.

It is actually Sonnen’s performance outside of the Octagon, however, that has people pushing him away from the mat and into the broadcast booth.

When he isn’t using his venomous poetry to hype fights, he often takes to the microphone for pre and post-fight coverage, and has landed a steady gig co-hosting UFC Tonight on Fuel TV opposite Kenny Florian.

UFC president Dana White has often said, “Fox loves Chael.” He believes that the network will eventually utilize Sonnen’s gift for gab and detailed analytical skills beyond its UFC coverage.

That’s not lost on Sonnen.

“I like to fight, but I love this business, and there are so many different opportunities that are out there now that weren’t here a number of years ago, and broadcasting is one of them.”

He won’t shut the door, at least he wouldn’t on Saturday night, but his self-analysis was spot-on. Anderson Silva and Jon Jones have iron clad grips on the gold around their waists.

Those are the big money fights in the two divisions that Sonnen competes in, and without a shot at either of them, what’s the point?

If he just loved to fight, Sonnen would have already committed to returning to the Octagon. But his goal has always been the belt, and without that, its’ difficult to see a strong enough attraction to entice him.

Never say never, but Sonnen realizes there lies plenty of opportunity for him outside of fighting in a cage, and at 36 years of age, it might just be time for a life change.

“I love this company,” he declared on Saturday night. “But as far as getting into the ring, that comes to an end at some point, and I am by no means saying that happened tonight, but at some point it comes to an end and I will find something else for myself to do with the business.”

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  • I hope Sonnen stays around for a little longer, he’s an entertaining guy and brings media attention to the sport of MMA. Be it positive or negative he gets people talking about MMA. Still good fights at middleweight for him against Belfort, Wanderlei, Rockhold, Jacare, Lombard etc

    • Sir_Roy

      I think, with the direction broadcasting and media is heading (especially with Fox), Sonnen can get just as many people talking about MMA from behind a mic. Be good to see him leave having been chased out by the top p4p fighters in the world, than see him get chased out by losses to stepping stones cuz he hung around a year or two longer than he should have.

      • MuayThaiFood

        Normally I’m with you but I disagree this time. I rather enjoy a good mouth running followed by a good ass kicking no matter who it’s by.

    • Milosc

      I think Chael sees a loss or two in that line-up, which would destroy his chances at even broadcasting

      (Chael is seen as ‘one of the best in the business’ because he has “psychologically” associated his brand with that of true MMA greats. He is not an authentic MMA great, himself. The loses helped maintain an image of “almost”, or “silver medalist to the GOAT”, by proxy

      Now, once people see him peppered up by Luke Rockhold, sub’ed/KO’ed like a girl by Belfort or Jacare… who’s really going to be all that interested in his ‘old ham’ bs anymore?)

      Make no mistake: this is Sonnen’s real dilemma

      • Madmmax

        Maybe he could drop down talk his way into a welterweight tittle shot or up for heavyweight tittle. What a Joke. In the other hand. He’s actually a good commentator and good coach. Always a place for him there

      • MuayThaiFood

        I really doubt a couple of losses hurts his chances at broadcasting unless he gets his jaw wired shut for an extended period as a result.

  • Venancio Ramos Tan Jr.

    sonnen vs diaz at 185

    • Alex Adams

      Thats a fight that will go in the record with Shamrock/Ortiz for most trash talk in MMa history

      • Sir_Roy

        Only one of the two will be entertaining and make any halfway coherent sense though … the other will be embarrassingly hard to listen to.

        • bajafox

          And you wonder why I take jabs at your golden boy, lol

          At least this fight will be entertaining and not be considered by the FDA as a cure for insomnia

          • Sir_Roy

            Never wondered why you do. It’s obvious why. Your cumulative posts evidence an extreme under appreciation for the complete MMA skill-set and, as most casual fans, an over appreciation of highlight reel “finishes” – bloating their importance to the detriment of all else. Nothing wrong with that per se. It is what it is.

    • Matte

      That fight is actually a really good idea. I would love it although Sonnen might be to big/heavy for Diaz.

    • Kris-tyahn

      I’d like to see it, but I believe they train or trained together. I know he trained with them last year & two yrs ago when Shields fought GSP. What are the chances Diaz would want to fight another strong wrestler like Chael!

  • Aaron Milk

    I’m a Big Sonnen Fan but i think he should go to the WWE
    he can make more money and do his thing for 10 years more – his UFC days are over

    • urdooomb

      He is too small to go to the WWE.

      Also, his antics are getting old.

      • Aaron Milk

        Cena is a top guy and stale as a mo’fo
        i think Chael can make it there big time
        heel heat in pro wrestling never gets old

  • ned sto

    I don’t see Chael picking any more fights. They would be non title fights, and a loss there would be too damaging to his image ( for lack of a better word ), and a win, even a win over a contender would not really help him any either. Not after all the talking he has done. He’s painted himself into a corner with that 1st round stoppage against Jones.

    The only kind of fight I see him taking is one where someone calls him out. Someone with some popularity already, like Diaz. (but not Diaz specifically) Something that can be promoted into a sound profit not just for Chael, but for the UFC, in order for them to make it happen.

    As it is now, he’s just completed his prerequisite of three title fight losses in different divisions ( cheap shot at Florian, no ill will intended ) for a permanent and lucrative position as a MMA commentator. Regardless of his record, he does his homework, and knows how to bring into perspective any fighters strong points.
    Even if he does over inflate their significance a bit, that is the exact job of the commentator.

  • Ian Price

    I’m pretty sure Chael would clown him around just as GSP did. Actually, even more so, as Chael would walk into the octagon around 200-210, and poor ol’ Nick would barely be hit 190.

  • Ian Price

    The biggest fights for Chael are against Weidman (if he beats Silva), Vitor (grudge match), Maia (rematch, but I think Maia likes it down with the midgets at 170), Rockhold, a Bisping rematch, DC at 205, Evans at 205, Jacara, Lombard, Uriah Hall, and an Anderson Silva trilogy rematch if he loses to Weidman.