Following an initial report by the Associated Press revealing that ESPN has hired former UFC fighter and former FOX broadcaster Chael Sonnen as an MMA analyst, ESPN issued the following statement on Sonnen’s hire, specifically as a UFC analyst:
Former UFC Middleweight and Light Heavyweight title contender Chael Sonnen has joined ESPN in a multi-fight agreement as a studio and on-site analyst, providing expert pre- and post-fight insight onSportsCenter’s coverage of major UFC pay-per-view events. Sonnen will make his debut on Friday, Nov. 14, prior to UFC 180, appearing throughout the weekend on SportsCenter and various ESPN platforms.
“Chael is a tremendous analyst and we are excited to have him join ESPN,” said Glenn Jacobs, ESPN senior coordinating producer. “Along with our established UFC analyst Gilbert Melendez, Chael allows us to provide unparalleled UFC coverage. We feel his insights from years in the octagon and his outgoing personality will enhance SportsCenter’s place as a destination for UFC fans.”
Sonnen said, “The industry leader in sports…and ESPN have finally joined forces. You’re welcome, wait! These mics hot? The biggest thing to happen to ESPN since…well nothing really comes close. In all seriousness, to ESPN, to Disney, to the Hearst Corporation and to all the viewers…you’re welcome. From one industry leader to another, I look forward to the opportunity of bringing my stories, insight and unique perspective of mixed martial arts to the network.”
Sonnen — who fought for the UFC world title three times at two different weight classes, against former UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva (twice) and UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones — retired with a professional MMA record of 29-14-1. He has served as a UFC analyst for FOX Sports and was a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen,” which aired on FX, and “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil: Team Wanderlei vs. Team Sonnen,” which aired on UFC Fight Pass, the organization’s digital subscription service. In addition, he made several guest appearances as an analyst on ESPN’s MMA Live in 2010. He currently hosts “You’re Welcome with Chael Sonnen,” a weekly podcast featuring MMA insight, analysis and interviews on PodcastOne. Sonnen, an Oregon native, attended the University of Oregon, where he was an NCAA All-American wrestler.