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 MMAWeekly.com.
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.
In 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.
“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.