TUF 14 and Bisping Fight Off the Table, Will Chael Sonnen Return to Fighting?

May 18, 2011
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Chael Sonnen and Michael BispingIt was less than a year ago when Chael Sonnen was perched and literally minutes away from defeating Anderson Silva to become the UFC middleweight champion.

Sonnen lost the fight in the final moments as Silva submitted him via triangle choke, and now he may have lost the ultimate battle with the California State Athletic Commission. He has been indefinitely suspended by the sanctioning body.

Due to the suspension, Sonnen will be sidelined in regards to California at minimum until June 2012 when he can re-apply for a license in the state. Add to that the fact that most major athletic commissions, including Nevada, will likely uphold California’s ruling, and Sonnen could be effectively sidelined for at least a year.

Sonnen, during Wednesday’s hearing, basically echoed those same sentiments as he pleaded with the commission to see his side of things, and allow him to get back to work as a fighter.

“If I am not granted a license to fight, I will be effectively retired,” Sonnen said. “I don’t want to retire today.”

According to Sonnen’s testimony, he was in place, if the commission had approved him, to become a coach on the 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Michael Bisping, with the two facing off after the season with a shot at the middleweight title on the line.

Now, with this suspension firmly in place, Sonnen will not be coaching and may not be fighting for a long, long time.

While Bisping and Sonnen seem to be perfect rivals for reality TV, even the British born fighter expressed his displeasure in the commission’s ruling that saw the Oregonian get suspended and without a license to fight for the immediate future.

“Gutted for Chael Sonnen,” Bisping wrote on his Twitter page. “People make mistakes, he paid his dues and should be allowed to continue with his career. Real shame for the guy.

“I did wanna fight him, as it would have been awesome, and a No. 1 contender match-up, but my own personal wants aside, I do truly feel for the guy.”

Technically, Sonnen can still apply for a fight license in other states besides California and Nevada, but most commissions tend to honor the suspensions handed down by other licensing bodies.

As California State Athletic Commission Executive Director George Dodd said when speaking with MMAWeekly.com earlier this month, each state commission makes their own decisions, much like what happened with boxer Antonio Margarito after he was suspended in California, but still fought in a different state.

“It’s kind of like the (Antonio) Margarito hearing (in boxing), where we had him on an indefinite suspension. Each state can make a determination of what they want to do with him.”

Dodd went on to state that the Nevada State Athletic Commission will also honor whatever suspension they hand down in regards to Sonnen.

“Nevada and a lot of other states work together, and they honor each others’ suspensions,” Dodd stated. “They have chose to honor our suspension.”

MMAWeekly.com sent messages to Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer for comment to confirm their stance on Sonnen’s suspension, but no response was given by the time of publication.

Sonnen was actually set to appear before the Nevada Commission this month before California stepped in and re-suspended the fighter, forcing him to re-appear with that commission, which effectively canceled any hearing he had with Nevada.

Was this ultimately a witch hunt to make an example out of Chael Sonnen? That’s one question that remains to be answered, but whether it was or not, the suspension is in place.

Beyond the issues that Sonnen will now have for at least a year in states like California and Nevada, is what the UFC would be willing to do with him while under suspension. The promotion has free reign to use their athletes in other areas, even those like the United Kingdom where no athletic commission is present, they have typically always stood by any suspension handed down.

It’s not likely the UFC would have Sonnen fight in another state or even another country because of the suspension, but he is able to apply for a license in other states if they wish to try.

What it means for certain right now is that Sonnen will not be a coach on the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and will likely not be able to face Michael Bisping, much less face Anderson Silva in a rematch for the UFC middleweight title.

Sonnen has yet to make a statement following the meeting with the commission on Wednesday, but for now the fighter that has been called ‘the most interesting man in MMA’ will have to wait and see if he’ll be able to continue with his career.


Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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  • MrAdidas

    BULL SHIT! Give me a break, the guy paid his dues. Fighters who have done worst get a slap on the hand compared to Sonnen’s suspension. Love him or hate him, hes “good” for the sport in regards to getting people to follow it nad him bc you never know what will come out of his mouth. I for one would really like to see a rematch between him & Silva, so that we can see if Silva’s “overrated” (as some have claimed) or if Sonnen got lucky (as some have claimed)!!!

    I dont know why the UFC dont allow him to fight in other countries? Just b/c the “California State Athletic Commission” & Nevada S. A. C wont allow Sonnen to fight, shouldnt mean shit all to other countries, which is why the UFC should allow Sonnen fight in Brazil, Canada, England…… etc.

    Not sure why the UFC wouldnt allow for one of their fighter(s) to fight in another country, regardless of what the California or Nevada etc state athletic commissions say or decide. If they decide that they do not want so and so to fight in their state, sobeit, but for the UFC to “allow” that suspension to uphold in other countries is BULL SHIT & cowardly.

    Dont care for Sonnen as a person, I dont have a +ve or -ve opinion about him as a person, but I do want to see him fight. He’s good & he’s “funny”, but mostly b/c hes VERY entertaining!!!