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Chael Sonnen Bio

Chael Patrick Sonnen (/ˈtʃeɪl ˈsʌnən/; born April 3, 1977) is an American mixed martial artist who is signed with Bellator MMA and competes in the Light Heavyweight division. Throughout his career, Sonnen has also fought in the UFC, WEC and Pancrase.

Contents

  • 1 Early life and career
  • 2 Mixed martial arts career
    • 2.1 UFC
    • 2.2 Bodog Fight
    • 2.3 World Extreme Cagefighting
    • 2.4 Return to UFC
      • 2.4.1 Silva vs Sonnen
    • 2.5 CSAC suspensions and appeals
      • 2.5.1 Initial appeal
      • 2.5.2 Subsequent suspension by CSAC
    • 2.6 Second return to UFC
      • 2.6.1 Silva vs Sonnen II
      • 2.6.2 Return to light heavyweight
      • 2.6.3 The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, failed drug tests, termination and retirement
    • 2.7 Bellator MMA
  • 3 Political career
  • 4 Sports commentator and analyst
  • 5 Business career
  • 6 Film and television appearances
  • 7 Personal life
  • 8 Championships and accomplishments
    • 8.1 Amateur wrestling
    • 8.2 Mixed martial arts
  • 9 Mixed martial arts record
  • 10 Submission grappling record
  • 11 See also
  • 12 References
  • 13 External links

Early life and career

Sonnen was born in either Milwaukie, Oregon, United States or West Linn, Oregon (sources differ), and began wrestling from a young age. He attended West Linn High School, where he was a state runner-up. In 1996, Sonnen began training in boxing, with the hope of competing in the UFC upon graduating from high school.

After high school, Sonnen attended Brigham Young University before transferring to the University of Oregon when BYU began considering cutting their wrestling program. At Oregon, Sonnen earned All-American honors, was a two-time PAC-10 runner-up, was a silver medalist at the 2000 Greco-Roman World University Championships, and was a two-time Dave Schultz Memorial International Greco-Roman winner. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology.

Mixed martial arts career

Sonnen started his mixed martial arts career in 1997 at the age of 19, by defeating Ben Hailey in Vancouver, Washington. He next defeated future ICON Sport Middleweight Champion and Strikeforce Middleweight contender Jason "Mayhem" Miller. He won his first six fights, before losing to Trevor Prangley. In late 2003, he was submitted by future Ultimate Fighter winner and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin with a triangle choke submission.

UFC

Sonnen made his UFC debut in a Light Heavyweight bout against former IFC Light Heavyweight Champion Renato Sobral at UFC 55, submitting to a second-round triangle choke. He then avenged his first loss, by winning a unanimous decision over Trevor Prangley at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 4. At UFC 60, he fought Jeremy Horn for the third time and submitted to an armbar. Shortly after, he was released from the UFC.

Bodog Fight

In May 2006, Sonnen debuted for Bodog Fight, defeating Tim Credeur via TKO. He went on to win a unanimous decision over Alexey Oleinik, defeat Tim McKenzie in 13 seconds with a D'arce choke, and finish UFC and PRIDE veteran Amar Suloev via TKO. After leaving Bodog, Sonnen defeated future Ultimate Fighter member Kyacey Uscola at SuperFight 20: Homecoming.

World Extreme Cagefighting

In December 2007, Sonnen fought Paulo Filho for the WEC Middleweight Championship. Sonnen lost via a controversial submission at 4:55 of the second round. Sonnen did not tap out but screamed in pain, which the referee interpreted as a verbal submission. In his post-fight interview, Sonnen said he told the referee not to stop the fight, and continually said "No" when the referee asked if he wanted to submit. Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, claimed Sonnen only yelled "No" after the referee stopped the fight. Kizer and Dana White (who was watching ringside) both agreed with the call.

A rematch was scheduled for March 26, 2008, but was cancelled after Filho entered a drug rehabilitation program. Sonnen instead faced undefeated contender Bryan Baker and dominated him for three rounds to win a unanimous decision. Sonnen and Filho eventually met again on November 5, 2008, and Sonnen won a unanimous decision. Prior to the fight, Filho weighed in almost seven pounds over the 185 pound limit, so the bout was ruled a non-title match. After Filho lost, he announced he would ship Sonnen the championship belt.

Return to UFC

Following the dissolution of WEC's Middleweight division, Sonnen returned to the UFC.

In his first fight for the promotion since UFC 60, he was submiited by jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia via triangle choke submission at UFC 95.

At UFC 98 in May 2009, Sonnen defeated Dan Miller via unanimous decision. He was a late replacement for Yushin Okami, who tore ligament while training. He took the fight on 22 days notice, and lost 36 pounds in order to compete.

In his next fight, at UFC 104, Sonnen outwrestled Okami for a unanimous decision victory.

Sonnen was expected to face Nate Marquardt at UFC 110, but the fight was moved to UFC 109 on February 6. Sonnen won a unanimous 30-27 decision, after escaping two deep guillotine chokes in the first and third rounds. With the victory, Sonnen became the number one contender for the UFC Middleweight Championship.

Silva vs Sonnen

At UFC 117 on August 7, 2010, Sonnen challenged Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Sonnen had trash talked to hype the fight, stating he was going to retire Silva. Heading into the fifth round, Sonnen led on the judges' scorecards (40–34, 40–35, and 40-36). At 3:10 into the final round, Silva caught Sonnen in a triangle armbar and made him tap out. In a later interview, Sonnen stated it was the choke, not the armbar, that made him submit. The fight earned both fighters Fight of the Night honors, and was considered to be the best fight of the year by many critics. The fight was later awarded 'Fight of the Year' by World MMA Awards.

CSAC suspensions and appeals

Urinalysis conducted after his loss to Anderson Silva showed Sonnen had an unallowably high testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 16.9:1 at the time of the fight. An average man has a T/E ratio of 1:1, and testing bodies may allow a ratio as high as 4:1 for athletes undergoing TRT treatment. In other words, Sonnen's T/E ratio was nearly 17 times than a normal man's and over four times the allowed maximum for an athlete. He was fined $2,500 and suspended for one year (until September 2, 2011) by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). His scheduled rematch with Silva was subsequently cancelled.

Initial appeal

Sonnen appealed the CSAC's decision. The hearing was held on December 2, 2010. The principal grounds of his appeal were that he had a medical justification for taking testosterone, and he believed he had taken the necessary steps to disclose the condition and its treatment to the CSAC. He testified he had been diagnosed with hypogonadism in 2008 and was undergoing Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), self-injecting synthetic testosterone two times a week. Sonnen's physician, Dr. Mark Czarnecki, was present at the hearing and attested to these claims.

In his sworn testimony, Sonnen claimed to have been previously approved for TRT by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), and to have spoken directly to NSAC's Executive Director, Keith Kizer, who informed him he was approved for TRT and should not again disclose the treatment on the pre-bout medical disclosure statements required by the NSAC. He said he believed this advice about disclosure also applied to the forms of other state athletic commissions. He said he had previously disclosed his condition to the CSAC before his UFC 104 bout with Yushin Okami, which took place in Los Angeles on October 24, 2009. Based on his testimony, the CSAC voted to recharacterize Sonnen's transgression as a failure to properly disclose a medical treatment, and correspondingly reduced his suspension from twelve months to six, ending March 2, 2011.

Keith Kizer publicly responded to Sonnen's testimony, claiming the NSAC had never approved Sonnen for TRT, Sonnen had never applied for the approval process, and he had "never talked to Chael Sonnen in [his] life." At a subsequent meeting between the UFC, Sonnen and the NSAC, Kizer asked Sonnen about his testimony at the December 2, 2010, CSAC hearing. According to Kizer, Sonnen initially deflected his questions but, when pressed further, admitted no conversation between Kizer and himself had occurred. Sonnen explained "My manager and you talked about therapeutic exemptions, and therefore, I just used the wrong word. I should have said 'my' instead of 'I.' As in 'my manager' instead of 'I'". Kizer called this a "strange story" and a "ridiculous explanation" Kizer acknowledged speaking with Sonnen's manager (Matt Lindland) about TRT, but said the conversation concerned only the procedure itself, not the application of any particular fighter.

CSAC Executive Director George Dodd has also contradicted Sonnen's testimony, stating the CSAC has no documentary evidence of Sonnen ever being approved for TRT.

Subsequent suspension by CSAC

Sonnen's abbreviated CSAC suspension expired on March 2, 2011. However, in the third week of April 2011, the CSAC announced it had reversed its decision to lower his sentence, and had placed him on indefinite administrative suspension due to his conviction for money laundering (see below) and his possibly false testimony during the hearing of December 2, 2010. Sonnen appeared before the CSAC on May 18, 2011, requesting the suspension be lifted. After hearing testimony from Keith Kizer via streaming video, as well as from Sonnen and his supporters, the CSAC voted 4–1 to uphold the suspension. Two days later, the CSAC clarified that the applicable regulations only allowed Sonnen to be suspended until his existing license expired (on June 29, 2011). If Sonnen applied for a new license after June 29, 2011, he would have to reappear before the CSAC, which could deny the application.

Second return to UFC

After his suspension, Sonnen returned to the UFC on October 8, 2011, defeating Brian Stann with a second round arm triangle choke at UFC 136.

Sonnen was expected to face Mark Muñoz on January at UFC on Fox 2, but Muñoz was injured and replaced by Michael Bisping. Sonnen was awarded the unanimous decision victory after three rounds.

Silva vs Sonnen II

A rematch with Anderson Silva was scheduled UFC 147, but the bout was moved to UFC 148 on July 7, 2012, after a scheduling conflict with the UN Conference on Sustainable Development forced UFC 147 into a smaller venue. The fight was considered by many analysts and several major media outlets as the most highly anticipated bout in UFC history.

As the fight finally took place, Sonnen quickly took the champion down in the first round and maintained a dominant position throughout, eventually gaining full mount while attacking with ground-and-pound. One cageside judge scored it a 10-8 round as Silva was credited with zero strikes. Sonnen connected with 76 strikes from the top position in the opening round, and held a 22-to-15 edge in significant strikes against Silva. However, Sonnen was unable to inflict any damage to the champion, and Silva stopped Sonnen with a knee strike and punches for the TKO at 1:55 of the second round, after Sonnen failed to connect with a spinning elbow strike and tripped.

Return to light heavyweight

On August 14, 2012, on UFC Tonight, Sonnen announced he would face Forrest Griffin in a Light Heavyweight rematch on December 29, 2012, at UFC 155. But the rematch with Griffin was scrapped after Sonnen was tabbed as a coach for The Ultimate Fighter 17 against Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.

A bout between Sonnen and Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship took place on April 27, 2013, at UFC 159. Sonnen originally accepted a fight with Jon Jones for the title at UFC 151, after Jones' original challenger Dan Henderson was injured, but Jones declined. Some fighters were upset with his title opportunity because Sonnen, "arguably the most legendary talker in UFC history", has not fought any bout since returning to the light heavyweight division. Dana White defended the matchup, saying "Sonnen was willing to fly over to Las Vegas to fight Jones on the same day", while other contenders like Maurício Rua and Lyoto Machida turned the offer down.

Jon Jones showed his lack of interest in the fight and downplayed the contest, making it clear that he does not believe Sonnen is a fit contender. In an interview, Sonnen did his best to hype up interest but Jones gave him "silent treatment", refusing to make eye contact. Jones dispatched the challenger using Sonnen's own style to defeat him via TKO in the first round. Despite the beatdown, Sonnen was likely only 27 seconds away from winning the title, as it was later discovered that, while defending a takedown, Jones suffered a serious toe injury that could have resulted in a doctor's stoppage TKO loss if the bout continued to the second round.

Sonnen was expected to face Maurício Rua on June 15, 2013, at UFC 161, replacing Antônio Rogério Nogueira who pulled out of the bout citing a back injury. Though an alleged visa issue created a problem for Sonnen to get into Canada, resulting in Rua being pulled from the event altogether. The bout with Rua eventually took place on August 17, 2013, at UFC Fight Night 26. Sonnen won via a guillotine choke submission in the first round.

Sonnen faced Rashad Evans on November 16, 2013, at UFC 167. He lost the fight via TKO in the first round.

The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, failed drug tests, termination and retirement

On October 22, 2013, it was announced that Sonnen would be coaching The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, against long-time rival Wanderlei Silva. A bout with Silva, briefly attached to UFC 173, then at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale, was expected to take place on July 5, 2014, at UFC 175. Dana White later stated the fight had to be rescheduled because Silva injured his hand from a brawl with Sonnen that took place during the filming of the show. Silva was ultimately pulled from the fight entirely after he failed to submit an application to fight in the state of Nevada, as well as his refusal to undergo a random drug test and was replaced by Vitor Belfort. However, Sonnen subsequently failed his random drug test and was removed from the bout.

Following the controversy of his second failed drug test, Sonnen announced on the June 11, 2014, episode of UFC Tonight his retirement from MMA competition.

Subsequent to his retirement, it was revealed on June 28, 2014, by the NSAC that Sonnen had failed a second random drug test – the third failed drug test throughout his MMA career – due to the presence of human growth hormone (HGH), recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO), anastrozole, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

On June 30, 2014, UFC and FOX Sports announced they had terminated Sonnen's contract as a UFC analyst due to his multiple failed drug tests. On July 23, 2014, the NSAC ruled that Sonnen would be suspended for 2 years from martial arts competition worldwide due to his multiple failed drugs tests.

Bellator MMA

On September 15, 2016, it was reported that Sonnen had signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA.

Sonnen made his promotional debut in a light heavyweight match against former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz on January 21, 2017 in the main event at Bellator 170. He lost the fight via submission in the first round.

Political career

Sonnen ran as the Republican candidate for the 37th district of the Oregon House of Representatives in 2010. That June, he dropped out of the race, vaguely referring to a "2006 legal issue" involving real estate.

Sports commentator and analyst

On November 11, 2014, ESPN announced it had hired Sonnen as an MMA analyst. He debuted on November 14, previewing UFC 180.

On May 6, 2015, professional wrestling promotion Global Force Wrestling (GFW) announced Sonnen as an "expert analyst" for its future events. On July 24, Sonnen was revealed as part of the announce team for GFW's Amped program.

On September 2, 2015, it was announced that Sonnen signed with the World Series of Fighting to become a member of their broadcast team beginning at WSOF 23.

Business career

Sonnen is a licensed realtor in Oregon. In 2006, as the agent for a home sale, he told the title company to pay a plumbing company owned by Sonnen's mother for repairs, even though he knew they would not be carried out. After the mortgage company agreed to the loan, the plumbing company was paid $69,000 and, at Sonnen's direction, paid the home buyer $65,000. On January 3, 2011, Sonnen pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with mortgage fraud. After agreeing to testify against others involved in the investigation, he was fined $10,000 and sentenced to two years probation.

On May 5, 2013, Sonnen announced he would like to buy WWE (valued at roughly $700 million) after he retires. Though his representative insisted he was not joking, a WWE representative said it was not for sale, and suggested Sonnen purchase stock in the company instead.

In 2012, Chael Sonnen started Mean Streets Pizza with business partner Lee Gamble in West Linn, Oregon. On February 2013 Chael Sonnen sued his business partner for embezzlement and unpaid rent. Lee Gamble filed a counter lawsuit seeking $400,000 in damages from Sonnen for defamation, wage reimbursement, and his ownership interest in the business. The case was settled and did not go to trial. Sonnen later sold Mean Streets Pizza and it is under new management.

Film and television appearances

Sonnen has appeared in the following films:

  • Here Comes the Boom (2012)
  • Grudge Match (2013)

In 2017, he appeared on The New Celebrity Apprentice, the 8th season of reality game show The Celebrity Apprentice. He was fired by host Arnold Schwarzenegger in the show's 4th week after it emerged that he had deliberately cut his team's computer cord in order to gain them more time.

Personal life

Sonnen is a Catholic.

Sonnen and his wife, Brittany, had their first child, a son named Thero, on June 4, 2015. On the next episode of his podcast, he said that he had never understood parents who describe something as mundane as birth as a miracle, but that now he understood. He also said, "I love hearing him scream. People get upset when their baby cries, man, I've waited a long time to hear that cry, I've got no problem with it. In my house, we understand, if you want to be heard, you gotta make a little noise."

Championships and accomplishments

Amateur wrestling

  • National Collegiate Athletic Association
    • NCAA Division I All-American out of University of Oregon (1998)
    • NCAA Division I 190lb – 8th place out of University of Oregon (1998)
    • Pac-10 Conference 197lb – 2nd place out of University of Oregon (1999)
    • Pac-10 Conference 197lb – 2nd place out of University of Oregon (2001)
  • University National Greco-Roman Championships
    • 187.25 1b -3rd place out of University of Oregon (1997)
    • 187.25lb -2nd place out of University of Oregon (1998)
    • 187.25lb -1st place out of University of Oregon (1999)
    • 187.25lb -1st place out of University of Oregon (2000)
    • Awarded "Most Outstanding Wrestler" of 2000 tournament
  • World University Greco-Roman Championships
    • 187.25lb – 2nd place (2000)
  • Senior National Greco-Roman Championships
    • 187.25lb -4th place (2000)
    • 185lb -4th place (2002)
  • 2000 US Greco-Roman Olympic Team Trials
    • 187.25lb West Regional Champion
    • 187.25lb -3rd place
  • US Greco-Roman World Team Trials
    • 211.75lb -4th place (2002)
  • Dave Schultz Memorial International Greco-Roman
    • 187.25lbs -1st place (2000)
    • 213.75lbs -1st place (2001)
  • University National Freestyle Championships
    • 187.25lb -5th place out of University of Oregon (1998)
    • 187.25lb -3rd place out of University of Oregon (1999)
    • 187.25lb -2nd place out of University of Oregon (2000)
  • Championship Belt Series Winner, University Level

(2000)

Mixed martial arts

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    • Fight of the Night (Two times) vs. Nate Marquardt and Anderson Silva
    • Submission of the Night (One time) vs. Maurício Rua
  • DangerZone
    • DangerZone Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
    • DangerZone Light Heavyweight Tournament Winner
  • George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
    • George Tragos Award (2016)
  • Gladiator Challenge
    • Gladiator Challenge Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
  • Hitman Fighting Productions
    • Hitman Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
  • World MMA Awards
    • Fight of the Year (2010) vs. Anderson Silva on August 17
    • Personality of the Year (2013)
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
    • Best on Interviews (2010)

Mixed martial arts record

Submission grappling record

See also

  • List of male mixed martial artists
  • List of sportspeople sanctioned for doping offences

External links

  • Chael Sonnen at United World Wrestling Edit this at Wikidata
  • Professional MMA record for Chael Sonnen from Sherdog Edit this at Wikidata
  • Chael Sonnen profile at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame
  • "Chael Sonnen". UFC.com.
  • Chael Sonnen GFW Profile

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