Dana Praises Sonnen After His Retirement
Chael Sonnen’s run in the UFC did not end in the grandest fashion, and he ended his career in Bellator, but Sonnen left quite the impact on the promotion that UFC President Dana White sung his praises.
Sonnen competed in the co-main event of Bellator 222 earlier this month, getting finished by Lyoto Machida early in the second round. Sonnen announced his retirement after the fight, stating that while he never fulfilled a promise he made to his late father of winning a world title, he had a heck of a ride.
White was asked about the former UFC title challenger’s career and retirement during a recent appearance on SiriusXM, and White said he was happy “The Bad Guy” was able to hang up his gloves on his own terms.
“I like Chael a lot. I have a very good relationship with Chael,” White said. “I like the fact that this is the hardest place in the world to stay and make a living here. It’s a very hard place. You have to be one of the best in the world to stick around here and when guys can’t stick around here anymore and they go somewhere else and they can get paid and make money, I love it. Good for them.”
Sonnen did not have the most memorable start to a UFC run, but he built himself quite a reputation for his trash talk and ability to hype a fight. This started in the lead-up to his UFC middleweight title fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117, with his comments on Silva creating a buzz that even got some mainstream sports media attention.
White, in fact, says some of MMA’s biggest trash talkers, including Conor McGregor, may have been influenced by Sonnen.
“I don’t think Chael was necessarily a bad guy,” White said. “Before Conor McGregor, Chael was the best guy out there who knew how to push buttons and not only knew how to piss off other fighters but also piss off the fans and do things like that. I think he was very calculated and very smart in how he conducted himself in this business.”
Sonnen ended up being Silva’s biggest test at the time, having his way with “The Spider” and nearly claiming the championship on the scorecards before Silva caught him in a triangle choke in the fifth and final round. Sonnen ended up losing a rematch via second-round TKO and lost a light heavyweight title shot against Jon Jones via first-round TKO.
Sonnen then embarked on a bitter feud with Wanderlei Silva, but both ended up getting suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs in 2014 before they could face off in the Octagon. Sonnen announced retirement in response and ended up getting cut as an analyst from the UFC’s broadcasts on Fox networks at the time.
Upon the completion of his suspension, Sonnen signed with Bellator MMA in 2016, dropping his debut to Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170 before defeating Wanderlei Silva at Bellator NYC. He then competed in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, defeating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson before losing to Fedor Emelianenko.
Original Story: MMAFighting