TORONTO – UFC superstar Chael Sonnen (29-13-1 MMA, 7-6 UFC) has become as famous for his wit as his fighting ability, but UFC President Dana White believes Sonnen needs to pay closer attention to the lines of accepted decency.
“It’s at the point where I’m not upset, but Chael is a smart guy,” White said at today’s pre-UFC 165 media session. “He’s a funny guy. He’s a talented guy and has a huge future. He’s just got to stop with the (jokes), you know?”
Sonnen is regarded as the UFC’s unquestioned king of trashtalk. But his confident on-camera persona and quick wit have earned him not only a spot as the host of FOX Sports 1's “UFC Tonight” but also guest appearances on other programming on the network. Recently, such a spot landed Sonnen in hot water when he made a joke that referred to the infamous domestic violence history between music superstars Rihanna and Chris Brown.
“Look, Floyd (Mayweather) needs to keep doing what he’s doing, which is fighting complete tomato cans that we’ve never heard of before,” Sonnen said when previewing the recent Mayweather vs. Saul Alvarez fight during an appearance on “FOX Sports Live.” “I’ve never seen anybody in the history of America get so rich and so famous off of having complete wimps throwing punch at their faces.
“I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, ‘Well, it’s happened before. What about Rihanna?’ Shame on you. Classless. I will not stand for that. I will not stand for that.”
Sonnen then paused briefly before looking at his co-hosts and adding, “Too soon? Was it too soon?”
Shortly after, the network issued an apology of sorts to Deadspin.com.
“FOX Sports regrets the comments Chael Sonnen made during last night’s edition of FOX Sports Live,” the statement read. “They were an inappropriate attempt at humor that Sonnen acknowledges shouldn’t have been made and he apologizes to anyone who may have been offended by his remarks.”
Sonnen fought most recently in August, where he earned a submission win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC Fight Night 26, the first fight card to air live on FOX Sports 1. He returns to action in November against Rashad Evans at UFC 167, the promotion’s high-profile 20th anniversary event.
In the meantime, Sonnen is expected to remain a fixture on TV, but White said he needs to be more careful moving forward.
“First of all, the joke wasn’t that funny,” White said. “He’s not a comedian, and you can’t make fun of domestic violence or any other thing. He’s a sports commentator, and he’s got to knock that s–t off. He’s got to stop. He’s got to stop, or it’s not going to be good.
“Chael needs to stop the comedy and do what he’s on that show to do. He’s great at it. He’s super talented. Leave the jokes to the comedians.”
For more on UFC 165 and UFC 167, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Chael Sonnen)