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.”
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)