ESPN Hires UFC Veteran Chael Sonnen as MMA Analyst

November 11, 2014
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UFC veteran Chael Sonnen has been hired by ESPN as a mixed martial arts analyst, the Associate Press reported on Tuesday. This comes after Sonnen was fired by Fox and the UFC earlier this year in the midst of dealing with the fallout from two random drug tests that indicate the use of performance-enhancing substances.

“Yes, I can confirm that the sports industry leader AND ESPN have joined forces,” Sonnen said in confirming the news to

Sonnen was fired by FOX and the UFC in a joint announcement released by the broadcast partners on July 1. He was the co-host of “UFC Tonight” on FOX Sports 1, and also acted as an analyst on several other broadcasts, including FOX Sports Live.

SEE ALSO: UFC and FOX Sports Terminate Chael Sonnen’s Broadcast Agreement

Chael SonnenIn his role at ESPN, Sonnen is expected to provide studio commentary an on-site analysis. ESPN producer Glenn Jacobs told The Associated Press the network was aware of Sonnen’s mistakes, but he added that he has paid for them.

The decision to terminate Sonnen’s FOX and UFC broadcasting deal came days after the fighter tested positive for performance-enhancing substances in two consecutive random drug tests conducted by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

Sonnen initially tested positive in May for banned substances Anastrozole and Clomifene, both of which can be utilized to help treat men with hypogonadism, which Sonnen claims to have. Following the positive test, the fighter received a temporary suspension pending a hearing and retired from professional MMA competition.

The second exam in June resulted in Sonnen having traces of performance enhancers human growth hormone (hGH) and recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) in his system.

Sonnen later admitted to knowingly using the substances for which he tested positive. The Nevada Athletic Commission eventually suspended him for two years.

SEE ALSO: Chael Sonnen Narrowly Averts Lance-Armstrong-Like Lifetime Ban

“I turned in my prescriptions. I got this from the doctor, this is valid stuff, but these are still against the rules,” Sonnen said during an interview with Chris Jericho. “I knew it. I didn’t think I’d be tested for another 44 days. I tried to game the system.”

He has since served as a commentator at an MMA event in early October alongside former WWE broadcaster Jim Ross and started his own podcast.

Sonnen was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.

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  • TheCerealKiller

    FOX screwed up by firing him. People want to listen to him talk, because he’s good at it. I only wonder why ESPN wants to cover something that has on exclusive deal with FOX?

    • Maddawgmar

      As the worldwide leader in sports, they need an expert analyst for the entire sport. Not just UFC, but Bellator, Invicta, One FC, etc… The UFC has exclusive airing rights with Fox, but not exclusive reporting rights. ESPN can report on any sport they want. Plus I’m sure they have a working relationship with Fox, and can get rights to clips from UFC and Fox to report. Why wouldn’t they? Even greater exposure for the sport and organization.

      • TheCerealKiller

        You got a point. I just don’t see them covering anything outside of UFC and Bellator. They barely cover UFC as it is.

        • Maddawgmar

          Right, all they do now is show quick clips of some PPV’s. And some results on the ‘bottom line’. But MMA is becoming more and more main stream. I can’t wait to see their segment…

    • Darin

      People want to listen to him TRASH talk. People want to hear him make fun of Brazilians. He does none of this as a commentator. When he puts on the suit and sits behind a desk he is average at best. He’s no more entertaining or informing than any of the plethora of former and current fighters doing the same thing.

      Commenting on Fox, he was straight all the time. No wisecracks about favelas or how stupid Wanderlai is, nothing…..oh except a $#it ton of kissing Dana’s a$$….

  • Maddawgmar

    A huge victory for Chael. ESPN is the leading sports network in the world. He is gonna get great exposure and a premium check. Fox can’t pay him what ESPN will…