Chael’s War: Fighting to Retain the Fans He’s Alienated The last few months have been rough as a Chael Sonnen fan. I won’t deny it: I loved hearing the ridiculous comments he would make and was always curious how he would spin a situation to his advantage. He was as talented a talker as the UFC has ever seen, and it seemed as though he had found the perfect role for himself as analyst, host, and part-time fighter.
But then we had the unmitigated disaster of his botched steroid tests. All summer long, we’ve been riveted to each new chapter of his fall from grace. First Sonnen crowed over Wanderlei’s embarrassment and suspected drug use only to gleefully announce a fight with a convicted steroid abuser who had just failed his second drug test in five years. When Sonnen was busted for his first test of this year, he tugged at our heart strings with stories of fertility issues and the desire to be a family man. Before the smoke had cleared, we discovered Sonnen had also been abusing HGH and EPO. He was unceremoniously fired by the UFC & FOX, and raked over the coals by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
The strange thing is, as much as I hate the steroid abuse, I still want to like Chael Sonnen. I really do.
I want to see him somehow become that redemption story that we all love. When he went before the NAC, I was desperate to hear some kind of explanation from him that might shed light on why he would do something so heinously against the spirit of fair competition. When he fought last night in Metamoris 4, I was hungry to see some kind of progress back to dignity. In that respect, it was an anti-climactic main event. Sonnen’s performance was par for the course: he attempted to defend the submission attacks, but eventually lost patience and paid the price for it by giving up his back & being submitted.
When his former co-host, Kenny Florian, attempted to interview him, all we got was more of the same old Chael P. Sonnen rhetoric about bad guys and walks and Anderson Silva.
It felt shallow and forced, and left me wondering if we would ever see him again. Clearly, he’s not cut out for high-level grappling competition, and he’s certainly not going to be stepping into the cage for another 23 months, if at all. It would be such a disappointing and painful way for one of the most entertaining performers from our sport to end his legacy, but I don’t foresee how he could rebuild his reputation at this point.
Full disclosure, though: I still want to see it happen. Every time he’s in the news, I’ll be pricking up my ears and listening attentively. I just can’t help myself. Chael, why can’t I quit you?