Chael Sonnen's next move? (Hint: Not retirement) (Yahoo! Sports)


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

As is usually the case with Chael Sonnen, the money quote was buried layers deep.

The UFC's master manipulator said all the right things after taking a thumping from Jon Jones on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 159. He spoke with eloquence about his conqueror's skills and strongly hinted it might be time to consider hanging them up, even though he never used the word "retirement."

"I'm not going to be one of the guys who hangs around if he doesn't have a road to the title," Sonnen said in his post-fight interview with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan. "I believe that was my last opportunity." 

But there's always an angle with the pride of West Linn, Ore. Sonnen's improbable, late-career run from mid-card castoff to pay-per-view titan came about through equal parts skills inside the Octagon and opportunism outside.

When Chael Sonnen speaks, people listen. Then they try to figure out the hustle.

In this case, the genesis of Sonnen's next chapter was buried in this little gem dropped into the post-fight news conference at Newark's Prudential Center:

"I'm terrible," Sonnen said. "I lost to (Jones and middleweight champion Anderson Silva). What are they going to do? Put me in with Wanderlei Silva? Who else am I supposed to beat around here?"

Sonnen doesn't drop names out of the blue. Wanderlei Silva, the former PRIDE 205-pound champion and a beloved legend of the game, is exactly the type of fight that can keep Sonnen in the headlines and atop a big fight card.

Presenting Silva's name into the middle of his post-fight soliloquy was Sonnen's way of pushing the ball forward at the same time he came to grips with the fact he's never going to get the gold strap.

[Related: Jon Jones beats Chael Sonnen at his own game; super fight looming?]

With the loss to Jones on Saturday, Sonnen dropped to 0-3 in UFC title fights, putting him in the company of Kenny Florian and Pedro Rizzo. It was the latest setback in a career which has cast Sonnen as the combat sports equivalent of the pre-2004 Boston Red Sox: Usually good, sometimes great, but unable to get the job done when it mattered most.

Sonnen was runner-up at the Pac-10 wrestling championships in 1999 and 2001. Runner-up at the 1998 world university Greco-Roman championships. U.S. Olympic wrestling alternate. Loser in his WEC middleweight title challenge against Paulo Filho, twice a loser to Anderson Silva, and a loser to Jones.

"You know what? When I get in there, I just want to know who's better," Sonnen said. "I just want to feel these other guys. I want to see what the hype's about. If they would have called it, I wouldn't have had any illusions. I knew in those first five minutes who the better fighter was."

Had Sonnen managed to ride out the storm and get through the final half-minute of the opening round, chances are, he would have went home to Oregon with the UFC light heavyweight title belt in his possession. There was little chance Jones would have been cleared to continue in Round 2 with the grotesque compound fracture of his left big toe, which would have meant a flimsy TKO victory for Sonnen.

But as of Saturday night, at least, Sonnen was having none of that talk.

"I'm sure it would have gone to a rematch and we'd have had to do that again, because it would only have been right to Jon. But I got my questions answered tonight. I've had a lot of fights, and they haven't all gone my way," But I've only been beaten up twice and that was No. 2. And he beat me at my own game. It's frustrating and it's tough. That's it."

"I had to watch the replay. He was in on my leg before I knew it. I don't know how he set it up, if he threw a punch. I don't know what happened. He was just on my leg. I've been in that spot my whole life. I got up and he hit it again, and I got up and he hit it again. I've only been taken down three times in my career. He took me down three times in one round."

[Related: Jon Jones makes quick work of Chael Sonnen, suffers gruesome injury]

While Sonnen certainly appears to be making peace with the fact he's never going to be champion, he also remains a fighter who hasn't lost a non-title fight since 2009. Take it back to the summer of 2006 and his record in non-championship tilts is 12-1.

Once the sting of coming up short in his title quest wears off, it's hard to believe that the carnival barker side of Sonnen won't realize that he's still got a lot of legs left as a big-money headliner when presented with the right matchups. And Sonnen the competitor will realize that even if he keeps placing second on the biggest stage, the silver medalist is still in a better position than the rest of the pack.

Which brings us back to Sonnen's comment on Wanderlei Silva. The two already have a history of trading barbs back and forth. Sonnen is public enemy No. 1 among Brazilian MMA fans. Silva is coming off his most exciting victory in years, his recent TKO of Brian Stann in Japan.

Sounds like the recipe for a main event. Sounds like Sonnen is still a step ahead of the game.

Related UFC video on Yahoo! Sports

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Packers announce long-term contract extension for Aaron Rodgers
Thunder's Russell Westbrook out for season after knee surgery
Rick Pitino follows through, gets tattoo
Two RCR crewmembers arrested after post-race fight

view original article >>

Related News

  • 7 days ago
  • 25 views

After yesterday's Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) hearing involving Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen, what isn't there to say? Did the punishments fit the crime? What message did the NAC really send, if any, at all? Were you surprised the UFC announced Belfort vs. Chris Weidman for UFC 181 minutes after the conclusion of Belfort's portion of the hearing? We'll break down all angles of whatever the hell that was yesterday. Of course, there was also monumental news announced this week unrelated to read news >>

  • 8 days ago
  • 125 views

From Yahoo Sports: The former UFC contender endured a rambling hearing that toggled between friendly and contentious while waiting to hear the Nevada State Athletic Commission's judgment. read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 32 views

UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, being a former Olympian, says most drug infraction penalties resemble an unpaid vacation more than punishment and should be much more severe. read news >>

  • 20 days ago
  • 24 views

Say hello to a familiar face, beginning with UFC Fight Night 45 next week in "Dirty Jersey." I guess that boxing match against Roy Jones Jr. didn't pan out. Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight contender and one-time political hopeful Chris Lytle will return to the fight game as the new mixed martial art (MMA) analyst for UFC on FOX, according to the network's release passed along earlier today. UFC on FOX analysts Kenny Florian, Daniel Cormier and host Karyn Bryant welcome f read news >>

  • 8 days ago
  • 1 views

Jon Jones may be on the cover of EA Sports UFC and the sport's pound-for-pound best fighter, but he's not even the most used fighter in the video game. It's been a little over a month since EA Sports UFC was first released to the public, and a few days ago EA Sports put out a very interesting Infographic detailing some facts and figures based on how users are playing the game. One of the standout stats is Bruce Lee, who is the game's special unlockable character, is the most popular fighter chos read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 28 views

Chael Sonnen was popped for HGH and EPO, what are the possible implications of this for Mixed Martial Arts? Chael Sonnen failed two drug tests in a span of a few weeks, with the second having him test positive for HGH and EPO. Although he has recently retired, this PED use has led to him being let go from his Fox broadcasting duties, a firing which Dana White says to have been a tough call to make. So what does this test mean for Chael and for the sport in general? Well for one, Metamoris doesn' read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 47 views

Glancing at the language regarding Chael Sonnen's 'termination' with UFC and FOX Sports, you had to know the door hadn't been completely slammed on the charismatic fighter turned commentator. Unlike his hard-line stance on castoffs Paul Daley and Jason High, UFC president Dana White doesn't sound like he's completely out of the Chael Sonnen business. "It breaks my heart," said White of the decision to cut ties with Sonnen. "I care about Chael very much. Me and Chael have had a very good relation read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 77 views

UFC President Dana White set the MMA world on fire when he defended the decision of the UFC and Fox Sports to terminate Chael Sonnen's broadcasting contract, but if he plays his cards right, "The American Gangster" could be back. In an interview with MMA Fight Corner's Heidi Fang (at the 5:58 mark), White explained that while the chips are down for Sonnen right now, he could feasibly return to working for the promotion (transcription per Mixedmartialarts.com): "It breaks my heart," [White] said. read news >>

  • 29 days ago
  • 36 views

... because no supplement or drug can save him from a submission savage. It's no secret that former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staple and FOX Sports analyst Chael Sonnen has had his fair share of trouble with banned substances throughout his roller coaster combat sports career. "American Gangster" has failed multiple athletic commission-administered drug tests, one that most recently detonated his professional career as he knows it. However, Sonnen won't have to worry about those sorts read news >>