California Commission Upholds UFC Star Chael Sonnen’s Indefinite Suspension

After a dramatic hearing, the California State Athletic Commission voted 4-1 to uphold UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen's indefinite suspension for his criminal convictions and…

By: Nate Wilcox | 12 years ago
California Commission Upholds UFC Star Chael Sonnen’s Indefinite Suspension
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

After a dramatic hearing, the California State Athletic Commission voted 4-1 to uphold UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen’s indefinite suspension for his criminal convictions and for making false statements to the commission at a previous hearing. 

Sonnen was initially suspended after failing a post-fight drug test at UFC 117. He successfully appealed that suspension and got his original one-year sentence cut in half. Shortly thereafter he pled guilty on a federal felony money laundering charge coming out of his real estate business. It also came out that statements Sonnen made to the CSAC regarding his conversations with the Nevada State Athletic Commission were false. 

For the most comprehensive recap of the entire Sonnen idiodyssey see Cage Side Seats

Josh Gross was at the hearing:

CSAC executive officer George Dodd said the action was taken because the panel’s legal counsel felt Sonnen may have perjured himself during testimony at an appeal hearing in December related to his ban for elevated levels of testosterone, which at 16.9 was four times higher than the state’s allowable testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio.

The suspension, issued two weeks ago by the CSAC, puts Sonnen on the national database used by regulators to monitor medical and administrative bans, and asks North American regulatory bodies to contact California before issuing the UFC middleweight contender a license to compete, corner, promote or act as a manager.

MMA Junkie has more:

During today’s testimony, Sonnen revealed the UFC was targeting him as a potential coach on the soon-to-film 14th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Sonnen said the UFC planned to pit him against outspoken British striker Michael Bisping, and the two would meet in a No. 1 contender matchup at the end of the season.

Today’s ruling likely nixes that option, as the Nevada State Athletic Commission – which holds jurisdiction over the participants in “TUF,” which films in Las Vegas – generally upholds the rulings of other prominent commissions. Sonnen suggested during testimony that a failure to secure a license at today’s hearing would likely lead to his retirement.

Sonnen also told the commission that Dana White told him he might as well retire if he wasn’t licensed today.

Sonnen dug his own grave here. He went before the CSAC and made a string of obviously false statements that he attributed to their colleagues in Nevada. Keith Kizer at the NSAC is one of the most important men in the sport of MMA. There is no way either commission can afford to let Sonnen mock their proceedings with his blatant lies. 

It’s a bum deal too because as a fan I could not care less about Sonnen’s antics. I want to see him in the cage. He served his time on the testosterone suspension and I see the white collar crime as irrelevant. 

But there’s no way he can display such blatant contempt for the commissions that govern the sport and expect to be licensed to fight. Too bad, the UFC middleweight division could desperately use Sonnen’s blend of over-the-top fight promotion and athletic skill. 

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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