UFC President Dana White Grapples with Simple, but Tough, Decision to Fire Chael Sonnen

July 2, 2014
51 Comments

Chael Sonnen UFC 167 Open WorkoutsFollowing a second failed drug test in as many weeks, Chael Sonnen unceremoniously had his broadcasting services agreement with FOX and the UFC terminated.

Sonnen retired in the fallout from his first positive test result for banned substances. He said that the substances he took were necessary to try and deal with coming off of testosterone replacement therapy, for which there is no longer an allowance for a therapeutic use exemption.

That test was conducted on May 24 in Las Vegas. A second test, prior to knowing the results of the first, was conducted on June 5 in Portland, Ore.

Sonnen tested positive for the same prohibited substances in the second test, but also tested positive for two additional prohibited substances, human growth hormone (hGH) and recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO). Both are well known performance-enhancing substances that are much more difficult to explain away.

And Sonnen thus far has not tried to explain them.

Following the second positive test, and especially with the additional performance enhancers, FOX and the UFC decided to act.

Sonnen had become popular as a colorful broadcaster on UFC Tonight and other FOX/UFC broadcasts, but the TV partners felt that there was no choice but to terminate Sonnen’s broadcasting services contract.

“It’s very hard for me because I care about him a lot as a friend,” UFC president Dana White said in an exclusive interview with UFC.com on Tuesday. “I like Chael Sonnen, so it’s a tough one, man. He had four banned substances in his body, so what are you going to do?”

Despite his often-polarizing persona when he was trash talking and pumping up a fight, away from the camera, Sonnen is an affable, considerate person. So for White, terminating Sonnen’s contract was the decision that had to be made, but it wasn’t an easy one to come to terms with.

“The hardest part about it is that Chael Sonnen is a very intelligent guy and look what it’s done. It’s just terrible,” White continued. “If it happened to a guy that was not as bright, you’re like, ‘it’s unfortunate, but the guy isn’t very bright.’ You have to be a real stupid (expletive) idiot to mess around with drugs right now in this sport.”

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  • Bs

    I see not letting fight firing him from ufc fighting contract. But from broadcasting that’s a push how does one relate to the other maybe he can go bellator in be their joe rogan

    • David

      By letting him continue to be a broadcaster would tarnish the leap that UFC is trying to do with MMA. In real life if you get caught taking illegal drugs from any job your going to get fired. The UFC has defended him numerous times and I can say I wish my company would defend me like that but that would never happen.

  • BobLemons

    Fox and the UFC just lost their best broadcaster.. No need to watch all UFC Tonight stuff now..

    • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

      Im sure you can find the Chael Sonnen show on youtube

  • Dragon Kid

    Maybe Frank Mir can retire now and take over broadcasting job services on UFC Tonight.

    • bvol

      I could see that or replacing him with kenny Florian full time? They seem to really like him in that role

  • bvol

    Weird because Joe rogan admits to illegal use of Marijuana every single day. He has never been reprimanded. He was even high on fox right in front of dana. Has bragged for many years about it. Shouldn’t they consider letting him go if chael was let go? I understand fighting but from the broadcasting as well. I would probably have made the same decision but just mentioning rogan as well.

    • Anonymous

      Your really comparing weed to PED’s you dumbass??

      • bvol

        Great argument. “Dumbass” intelligent and well thought out. Peds in fighting I understand but his commentating contract is what I was talking about. Let’s see if you can respond with something better this time like “idiot” or “stupid” that would just be over the top and really show me!!! But to answer your comment both are illegal use of drugs

        • David

          Dude you cannot compare weed to ped’s intelligently. They are completely different things. On your argument about Joe Rogan he probably has a green card which would make it legal. If he doesn’t have his green card it doesn’t matter anyway because he’s not punching someone in the face. He’s not cheating by smoking weed. I like Chael I wish he didn’t have to get fired, but he left the UFC and FOX no choice.

          • TheCerealKiller

            A green card? He’s not a Mexican.

            “United States lawful permanent residency is the immigration status of a person authorized to live and work in the United States of America permanently. It is known informally as a green card because it was green from 1946 until 1964.”

            The point is that Chael could be a commentator, just like Joe who uses illegal drugs. Federal Law trumps State law. Weed is still an illegal drug.

            … a green card. Smoke another buddy.

          • David

            Hey a green card is not the term used for permanent residence. That’s called a permanent residence card now. A green card is known in today’s world as a legal identification card to buy medical marijuana. Stop commenting on all my posts and being rude. I know for a fact if we were face to face you would show respect because I would whip your ass. So stop being a douche online buddy.

          • TRT-Rex

            I disagree with the douchbag that’s been bashing marijuana all day. But as a holder of a medical marihuana card I’ve never heard of it referred to as a “green card”. I’m from Cali maybe your from another legal state with different terms. It’s simple called a medical marijuana recomendation. That’s all.

          • David

            Yup Washington state. The cards green and everything haha.

        • Brent

          Ummmm dude….there are 22 medical marijuana states and Colorado AND Washington are legal states. BIG difference. Rogan is an outspoken proponent of marijuana. EVERYONE knows this including the UFC.

        • Darin

          Should Lance Armstrong be hired to do analysis of bike races for ESPN? Of course not. He’s a shameful cheater and liar and deserves to have no part (especially a paid one) in the sport he tarnished.

          Same thing with Chael Sonnen. I don’t get why people have such a hard time understanding this.

    • Brent

      WTF???? Really????

    • AXE MURDERER

      NOO00oo..

    • tomorrowclear

      So, what you’re saying is that Rogan is up front about his drug use, whereas Sonnen lies about his use and the employer lets go of the one being dishonest? Boy, that’s a shocker. I’ll tell you, employers can be so capricious, can’t they?

      • TheCerealKiller

        Wow, you pulled out capricious and used it properly. Kudos to you sir, kudos.

    • TRT-rex

      Not very intelligent thing for you to say. Nevada is a medical marijuana state. Rogan isn’t breaking any laws or rules! So what basis would they have to terminate him?

      • TheCerealKiller

        Joe doesn’t need “medical” marijuana. Federal law still states that marijuana is illegal. That trumps any State law.

        • TRT-Rex

          So call the DEA and ask them to waste their money stopping it! They won’t. And Joe is a legal user. Weather you think he needs it isn’t up to you! His doctor says it benefits him. Just like my doctor says it benefits me. Your argument about the federal law is really lame and just shows your uneducated about marijuana.

          • TheCerealKiller

            My argument isn’t lame, it’s a fact. I personally know 8 people with these cards and they are all liars and fakes. They are just potheads. None of them are a productive piece of society. I know there are a few people that legitimately can benefit from it, but how can they work high? Joe was working high and admitted to it. I like him a lot, but don’t judge one drug abuser over another.

          • TRT-rex

            It sure is a fact. It’s also a fact that there are 22 medical states and 2 fully legal states and the tax dollars that the govt makes is outrageous. So the Feds won’t stop their own tax profit. Just think and be realistic. You are just one of those prudes that wouldn’t be fun to hangout with. Especially since you call your friends liars and fakes. Your must be a cop if you still even categorize marijuana as a drug, you weirdo. Smoke a joint and your whole views on the matter will change.

          • TheCerealKiller

            I have, it made me puke twice. I have watched people throw there lives away smoking pot. They have zero drive and just want to get high. Fibromyalgia my ass.

          • TRT-rex

            Well I’ve seen peoples lives improved using marijuana. My mom had breast cancer, and when she was going through chemo it was the only thing that gave her relief of pain, apatite and helped her sleep. So I disagree with you. If you threw up you must have had nasty stuff. And if your friends threw their lives away pot had nothing to do with it. No one has thrown their life away for marijuana. That’s what alcoholics do

          • TheCerealKiller

            Again, some people can legitimately benefit from it. Diaz and Rogan, that’s a joke. They are just potheads, just like a drunk.

          • TRT-Rex

            Again. Your not a doctor. From every story and rumor I’ve heard about the Diaz bros. it seems they would benefit from it. It helps with a lot of mental issues that most doctors would give you opiates or anti psych meds to treat (which are horrible). Your just need to be more tolerant to something that brings tax revenue, medically helps people, and has no negative statistics to say its bad. Alcohol and cigarettes kill people yet their legal? You just have an old school mentality and I totally understand. I just don’t agree. But this has been a nice debate lol.

          • TheCerealKiller

            Actually, I don’t have an old school mentality at all. I just don’t believe in crying about it when I don’t get my way legally. I follow the law, no matter how wrong I think it is. By the way, I might be a doctor.

          • TRT-Rex

            Ok know I’m confused Doc. What are you talking about when you say “I don’t believe in crying about it when I don’t get my way legally”? Who cried. If your referring to Chael I don’t think he cried. And if you referring to marijuana users, they are getting their way legally in 24 states. So in all seriousness Dr. What the hell are you referring to? I hope your not a dr. Since you schizo in this conversation.

        • MuayThaiFood

          And who really gives a rat’s ass? Not my state of Washington and not me. Joe wasn’t lying about using and doing it to gain an unfair advantage over someone and he doesn’t use his personality and his pulpit to bash others for smoking pot. Lame attempt at comparisons.

      • bvol

        It hasn’t been for a decade has it? My point being it doesn’t exactly look respectable for a face of your company to openly talk about being baked and consistently driving, while high, to the store because he is hungry. I was just curious why that has never been brought to light by Dana when it is clearly illegal and he and chael are in the same field.

  • badninja9

    Ethis are everything’ check out my critique, MMA LOSERS: Chael Sonnen, Renzo Gracie and the UFC.
    http://youtu.be/OpuGChH3Pt4

    • Guest

      I actually listen to the entire video (because I’m a loser) and you just call people names. I have no respect for you as a martial artist or a person. Your purpose of your video was a self pride, one the seven deadly sins. “Don’t be a loser, be a real winner”, what have you ever won?

    • TheCerealKiller

      I actually watched the whole video, because I’m a loser, and I am disgusted by it. All you do is call people names and try to promote your own self pride. You speak of ethics? Your video is a pile of crap. “Don’t be a loser, be a winner”, what have you won?

      Don’t bother watching, it’s just a guy full of himself that hasn’t accomplished anything.

  • Austin, TX

    Why does he have to be terminated from the Fox broadcasting job. That’s dumb. It makes no sense. It’s completely assanine when you stop and think about it for a long time. m

    • Darin

      I thought about it for about 4 seconds and realized it makes perfect sense for a blatant cheater to be banned from participating in the sport he cheated in, including doing analysis. He’s a black eye on the sport and does not deserve to continue making a living off of it.

  • Ahmaid Ahdoodi

    Probably the worst example of hypocrisy we’ve seen in the UFC.

    Rogan = Massive recreational drug user. Enjoys secure spot as the UFC’s color commentator despite being very open about the substances he takes.

    Chael = Uses performance enhancing drugs. Is fired from a commentating job as a result.

    Personally, I think PED’s should be allowed in the sport of fight commentating. If it makes you a better commentator without putting your co-hosts’ safety at risk….why not?

    • jason wilson

      Dont compare this clown to rogan please!!!

    • Darin

      Rogan isn’t cheating, Sonnen was. If Fox Sports was doing a show featuring commentary on bicycle racing, would they hire Lance Armstrong to do analysis?

    • natpaukar7

      Rogan was open which is the main difference. Rogan never competed, never lied and his position is not changed by his personal choices where as chael, potentially, put other fighters at risk.

  • Kevin

    So we are to believe these substances were not in his system during the time of the first test? And what was the reason for the second test? The guy is retired, why take another test? Funny that Dana is hugging the NAC’s nuts on this issue, when he flaimed them for their judges and referees not but a few months ago, saying he was scared to do another fight in Nevada (The home of the UFC). Maybe Kenny Florian was nervous for his safety in the studio. Guess they can go get Rashad to take his placed, he is past his prime and has a bigger mouth than Chael…

    • TheCerealKiller

      He wasn’t retired yet at the time of the second test.

      • Kevin

        Gotcha, he had to know he was done after the first one though.

        • TheCerealKiller

          Like a lot of them, I took the test, I’m free to cheat for a few months! He got caught, but I still want him as a color commentary guy.

  • Obi-Wan Granoli

    ok, joe rogan isn’t competing in the UFC, so if he smokes weed it doesn’t matter. his analysis of the sport hasn’t been tainted due to the fact he’s cheating at it. he’s not a blemish on the face of the UFC. what chael chose to do is cheating plain and simple, he’s a a smart fella and he made that choice.

    • bvol

      But chael isn’t competing either. He is retired. Do I believe he was on all of those during competition? Yes I do. I just find a little odd that one of their main faces on the mic has been extremely vocal about his drug use and driving “baked” for years and it goes with no notice. Chael is/was becoming a face of the company. Both can be looked at as embarrassing for the ufc. I think the ufc ‘ s hand was forced but I’m also surprised nothing was made of Joe rogan. That’s all I’m saying and maybe there was behind closed doors.

      • Obi-Wan Granoli

        You’re right, that does look bad on the UFC. Someone bragging about driving under the influence, Jones got caught crashing a car under the influence, didn’t hear to much about that as far as punishment from the UFC goes. It’d be a shitty way to end a career but seriously, if you’re gonna be dishing out these terminations because of improper behaviour, by all means make it fair.

  • Scoobs

    Suddenly all MMA fans are experts on PED’s. Bunch of idiots. Most of you didn’t even finish high-school, but you think you’re physiologists now? LOL.

  • KevStinx

    UFC allows drug users and cheats.
    UFC protects assets and forecasts fights.

    Sonnen has a rap sheet which is criminal, ignoring his fraud.

    All round cheat and poor role model, the UFC has gathered a number of cheats over the years which taints the brand as corrupt.