Chael Sonnen is retiring from fighting, making his announcement to kick-start “UFC Tonight” Wednesday evening. The news comes on the heels of a second failed drug test, this time for two substances he was using to help start a family with his new wife.
Sonnen, 37 years old, competed twice against Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title and once vs. Jon Jones for the light heavyweight belt. He finishes his MMA career with a record of 28-14-1, having defeated the likes of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Micheal Bisping, Nate Marquardt and Brian Stann.
“I want to officially announce my retirement from competitive mixed martial arts,” Sonnen said.
During his recent run, though, he has been known for his exceptional work on the microphone – both regarding his own fights and those of his fellow UFC athletes. Sonnen has taken up a home on UFC Tonight’s studio team, along with several appearances on other FOX Sports programming.
He was an All-American while competing on the wrestling mats for the University of Oregon in 1998, placing eighth at the NCAA meet and twice finishing as runner-up at the Pac-10 Conference tournament.
After competing on the national wrestling scene, earning a second place finish at the World University Greco-Roman Championships, Sonnen went full-on into MMA. He won his first six bouts before a rough patch that included a loss to future UFC champion Forrest Griffin 2003.
He fought for the first time in the UFC in 2005, losing to Renato Sobral via submission. He would compete twice more before leaving the company for almost three years, returning in 2009 and falling to Demian Maia.
Three straight wins led Sonnen to a title shot against Silva in 2010. The Oregon native stunned the world, taking “The Spider” into deep waters. He was up on the scorecards when Silva caught him in a triangle choke in the fifth round.
Sonnen earned another shot at Silva, provoking him in the media and defeating Bisping and Stann. He lost that contest via TKO in the second round and set his sights on the UFC light heavyweight belt.
A coaching stint opposite Jones on The Ultimate Fighter led to a 2013 fight at UFC 159. Jones, who suffered a broken toe in the opening moments, finished Sonnen via TKO and secured the win.
Sonnen stated during his opening interview that he has no problems stepping away because “I have to put my health first. I have to put my family first.” He also took full responsibility for the failed drug test, admitting that he should have checked with the commissions.
“If I know what I know now and I’m going to be able to get my wife pregnant and look forward to having a family, I’m going to do the exact same thing 20 times.”
Along with giving plenty of thanks, Sonnen specified one clear individual as his “single-most important opponent.”
“I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without this dance partner,” he said. “That of course is you, Anderson Silva. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for the memories.”