Chael Sonnen Announces Retirement

Following his loss to Lyoto Machida at Bellator 222, Chael Sonnen left his gloves in the cage, announcing his retirement from MMA after about 20 years as a competitor.

“I had a hell of a lot of fun,” Sonnen said in a post-fight interview. “I had a good run. [Bellator President] Scott Coker gave me a five-fight deal. He let me honor all five fights, and ladies and gentlemen, I’m walking out. I appreciate the memories and goodbye.”

While Sonnen never won a major world championship in his MMA career, he will always be known as arguably one of MMA’s best personalities, known for his ability to talk trash and hype up any fight. Sonnen will remain a commentator for Bellator, as well as an analyst and show host for ESPN.

Sonnen had his first MMA fight in 1997 before joining the sport full-time in 2002. He won his first six fights in a row, including a win over Jason “Mayhem” Miller.

After going 1-2-1, including a win over Renato Sobral and a loss to Forrest Griffin, Sonnen won five straight before dropping three in a row, including two to Jeremy Horn. He then went 3-1 before first joining the UFC at UFC 55, where he lost a rematch with “Babalu” Sobral. After defeating Trevor Prangley at UFC Fight Night 4, he lost to Horn at UFC 60 and parted ways with the UFC.

Sonnen then won five in a row, which included going 4-0 in BodogFight, before joining the WEC. He went 2-1 in the promotion, losing a middleweight title shot he had in his debut against Paulo Filho. Sonnen defeated Filho in a rematch at WEC 36, but he could not win the middleweight championship as Filho missed weight.

Sonnen then went 3-1 in a return to the UFC before his memorable first encounter with Anderson Silva, where he earned lots of media attention for his trash talk and insults hurled towards Silva. In their UFC 117 meeting, Sonnen was in control and appeared to be minutes away from claiming the UFC Middleweight Title, but Silva scored a triangle choke in the fifth round, catching everyone off guard and forcing Sonnen to submit.

After rebounding with two wins, Sonnen and Silva rematched at UFC 148, this time with Silva winning via second-round TKO. Sonnen then coached alongside Jon Jones on The Ultimate Fighter season 17 before the two met in a light heavyweight title fight at UFC 159. Sonnen was finished in the first round.

Silva went 1-1 in his final two UFC fights before he announced retirement and received a two-year suspension for failed drug tests. Upon the end of his suspension, he came out of retirement and signed a deal with Bellator MMA.

Sonnen lost his Bellator debut to Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170 before defeating archnemesis Wanderlei Silva in the main event of Bellator NYC. Sonnen then competed in the Heavyweight Grand Prix, defeating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 192 before a semifinal loss to Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 208.

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