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Looming legal issues earn Chael Sonnen UFC suspension

Chael Sonnen’s self-imposed troubles worsened this week when Dana White announced the outspoken middleweight’s contract had been frozen in hopes of allowing Sonnen to straighten out his personal life. While it is believed he will eventually return to the divisional fray in the future, the decision to suspend Sonnen is certainly another blow to the career of a man was three minutes away from doing the unthinkable and dominating Anderson Silva to win promotional gold less than six months ago.

News of the suspension was reported by TMZ after learning of the decision from White.

“Chael Sonnen has gone through a lot in the last few months and we think it’s important for him to focus on getting his personal life together before focusing on his career in the UFC,” said the UFC President while alluding to the 185-pounder’s positive drug test and reported plea of guilty on charges of fraud. “I spoke with Chael earlier today and he agrees that setting priorities in his life is the best thing for him right now. I sincerely hope (he) is able to straighten out his personal life.”

The move to put Sonnen’s status on hold came a day after the former national champion wrestler is alleged to have admitted his role to federal prosecutors in a money laundering scheme related to his side-business as a realtor. As a result of his willingness to cooperate, Sonnen is expected to receive two years of probation, a $10,000 fine, and the termination of his license to sell real estate.

29 COMMENTS
  • fanoftna33 says:

    Really good to see the UFC making the right move here. Hell they permantly cut Daley for hitting Kos after the bell but he isnt a convicted felon like Sonnen-or throw his partners under the federal bus did he?
    I guess because Sonnen is such a big draw though it means he will be suspended for 6 months to clear this up and then be back. But if they really wanted to make a ststement they drop him for good.

  • adamsfamily says:

    I’ve sat this issue out – with all of the Chael Bashing – but i’ve got to throw in now, that all is not known until all the facts are finalised. I think his hearing is in March sometime? Correct me if I’m wrong at your liesure.

    Also, in life if you fuck up, and we all do to some degree, you should have a chance at some point to try to make amends. I for one think that drink driving, or assault are far more serious crimes (socially) than fraud or corporate theft.
    Its just that fraud is an easier case to hand out a hefty fine that someone more that likely can pay. I would expect with his thick skinned personna he will act like he dosent give a fuck but only Chael and his partners or associates really know what went down and why

    As a viewer and fan, does his situation make me not want to see him beat up more people in a professional sport of my choosing – that I pay to see? No. I would probably reserve that high horse for when there is a clear cut case of violent crime or abuse.

  • Kamakosmo says:

    Drop him for good??? Seriously Fan?? Ease it up a little. I totally agree with Adamsfamily….reserve “banning” for serious violent crimes. He committed a non-violent, victimless crime, cut a deal (which is done every day in every court throughout the nation) and it’s done. He’s suspended for 6 months from the UFC, then will be back. Don’t make it bigger than it is.

  • Rece Rock says:

    I know everybody is presumed innocent until proven guilty BUT I dislike that mans character so much that it’s hard not to bash or have an unbiased opinion, with his track record as of late I do not blame fans whom are washing there hands of this guy.

  • Spoken says:

    theft is not a victimless crime and should not be treated as such. i dont care if it is white-collar or some pick-pocket on the street. that money belonged to someone before it was his, and he took it illegally. corporate theft is a major contributor to the collapse of our economy, so i suppose the country in itself is a victim as well. ill stop myself so i keep this in context. i agree with the suspension because its not worth scheduling a fighter who has overwhelming legal and personal issues to deal with, as it will probably interfere with the business, but i think chael should definitely be brought back once the mess is resolved. his crime is unrelated to his career as a martial artist and he is a non-violent offender, so i dont think what he did is the ufcs business beyond the direct impact on his ability to fight.

    also, what daley did has everything to do with his career as a fighter and i think he paid the appropriate price.

  • matt says:

    I believe that Chael has hit the climax of his career and now it is all falling action from here until the end. The climax of his career came in his fight with Anderson Silva. He was able to single handily turn a fight that now cared about into a fight millions cared about. He pushed Anderson to his limits beating him down for 4 and a half rounds. Then his climax came to a screeching halt, he got caught in the spider’s web. Silva had tapped him out with a triangle choke. He was then busted for steroids post fight. Now felony money laundering charges are against. He is said to have a plea deal already agreed to in which he will plead guilty and receive two years probation, a $10,000 fine, and have his Realtor’s licenses revoked. On top of all this the UFC is issuing a suspension. I do not see Chael being able to come back from all this adversity, he is on the wrong side of 30 and he has always choked in big fights, I think Chael’s short lived time at the top of the game is over.

  • MCM says:

    While I agree that what he did has nothing to do with his MMA career, it is an indication of his character, and that character is reflected upon the UFC. This was not a knee jerk reaction committed in the heat of the moment, but a calculated, logical plan to commit a felony. Michael Vick’s dog fighting conviction had nothing to do with his prowess on the field or career with Atlanta but they refused to have him on the team and released him. Dana should follow that example.
    If SF or MFC or Dream wants to pick up a fighter that plead guilty to a felony in a year or two, that’s fine. But as an employee of the UFC, his character and actions reflect incredibly poorly on the company and I feel he should be fired for it.

  • Angry Mike says:

    I don’t think Sonnen is done just because he lost to Silva. He lost by submission to Filho in WEC, but came back better and beat him. It’s true that Filho was not really prepared for the rematch, but it’s also true that Sonnen had improved. Generally speaking, he’s showed steady improvement since his WEC days when I first saw him fight. If the past is prologue, his loss to Silva isn’t a high water mark, and he gave Silva the toughest challenge by far.

    Should he be suspended or banned because of his current criminal issues? I guess my response is what’s the relevance to MMA? Is there a chance he can win a fight via submission using untruthful documents or fraudulent words in the Octagon? A “lawyer choke?” “Ko by verbiage”? Of course not, and it’s silly to conflate fighting with unrelated business dealings. What’s next? Banned for unpopular polical views? Poor fashion sense?

    That having been said, Sonnen should pay the penalty for using banned substances, but that’s never been the basis for a “death penalty” in UFC. Lots of current fighters have been caught, served their suspensions, and come back again.

  • Kamakosmo says:

    MCM, i think you are forgetting that Vick is back in the NFL, and currently is in the running for MVP (though we all know that will go to Brady).
    He wasn’t kicked out of the NFL, he was suspended. And Atlanta basically cut him hoping to get back most of the money they had already given him…had nothing to do with them being a “morally righteous team”.
    The suspension is fine and all that is warranted.

    And i take back my comment of this being a “victimless” crime, i realized right after i should not have put that in, thank you Spoken.

  • MCM says:

    I’m not saying ban Chael from MMA, just from the UFC. As I said, one of the other orgs could take him (SF is badly in need of MW’s). Vic’s actions reflected badly on Atlanta so he’ll never play for them again whether or not he wins MVP for the next 10 years. Since there are not really teams in MMA getting kicked out of and organization is the closest thing. That’s all I was trying to say.

  • danw84 says:

    Angry Mike, if bad fashion sense got you banned from MMA, we’d have no fans or sponsors.

  • Angry Mike says:

    danw84

    There’s a reason I don’t have an icon, especially an icon with my picture, and you have correctly identified that reason. “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

  • Dufresne says:

    A “lawyer choke?”
    If you can figure out how I can do this and get paid for it, I’m changing career paths immediately.

    Angry Mike, if bad fashion sense got you banned from MMA, we’d have no fans or sponsors.
    We’d still have some fans and sponsors, but Affliction would be out of business (again).

    I can understand why they’re suspending Chael, but does it make a bit of difference? Does anyone really think that Chael would accept a fight with a federal hearing coming up? If he ends up with any jail term he wouldn’t be able to fight and unless the UFC decides to expand into Oregon Chael will have major issues fighting with just a probation sentence.

    This is a PR move by the UFC, an intelligent one, but it’s still nothing more than a PR move. Unlike Vick and the Falcons Chael isn’t promised a dime until he shows up the day of the fight, so the UFC wouldn’t have lost any money by just pretending like nothing was happening and they had simply forgotten about Chael for a bit. Hell, I would put a decent chunk of change on the fact that the casual fans that make up 75%+ of the UFC’s market base haven’t heard a word of either this or about him popping for roids.

  • Chael is a cheating Loser. I don’t ever want to see this guys face again.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    It is a good thing Sonnen isn’t boring. Otherwise they wouldn’t just “suspend” the cheating, criminal rat they would sack him for the more serious crime of not being entertaining.
    At least ZUFFA have their priorities right.

  • king mah mah says:

    It doesn’t matter wheather his crime has anything to do with mma or not. He should still be fired if he can’t perform his job duties.

    I can tell you right now that if I have legal troubles and can’t go to work for an extended period of time there is no way my employer is gonna “freeze” my position for me while I work things out.

    Yeah that sure would be nice and it’s cool for Dana to offer that. But why should professional athletes be given so much leeway when it comes to keeping their jobs, while the rest of us would be fired in a heartbeat?

    Be it a failed drug test or felony charges, the average working citizen would be out of a job no questions asked.

  • Kamakosmo says:

    “I can tell you right now that if I have legal troubles and can’t go to work for an extended period of time there is no way my employer is gonna “freeze” my position for me while I work things out”…king mah mah
    Well, that is the case in YOUR employer. It all depends on where you work. There are plenty of places out there that will work with there employees in case of legal troubles, if you are considered a valued employee that is.

    It’s funny how most here wants to see this guys’ head roll. FIRE HIM!!! He’s a loser!!! Whatever…
    His punishment for the crime is 2 years probation and a fine…not the loss of his job. If you want him out of the UFC because of his fighting credentials, that is a totally different story.

  • king mah mah says:

    @Kamakosmo- Since there are countless businesses out there that are willing to wait for six months for an employee to work while he works out felony charges…..why don’t you name a few?

    And if the company has any value of it’s own, then it wouldn’t value drug using felonious employees!

  • stone says:

    I really hope Chael can get his shit together. I can’t wait to see him back in the cage. The steroid problem is a much larger issue than this real estate issue, IMO… The fed case has nothing to do with MMA, that’s why I don’t really give a damn. I still want to see “the re-match” asap.

  • Kamakosmo says:

    LOL!! I’m not gonna sit here and get into a ridiculous “I’m right, you’re wrong” argument with you. Just because you work at Walmart where they have a very strict no drug policy (which is NOT what this article is about…besides, nobody in the history of sports have been kicked out, or fired, for being busted using steroids)….i’m not condoning it, but he is serving the imposed sentence that the NSAC gave him!! Get that thru your thick head!! Stop being so holier than thou. If you don’t like the way professional athletes are treated in your eyes…then go become a professional athlete. Put-up or shut-up!! LMAO!!! Stop crying like a baby about it.

  • king mah mah says:

    LOL- I can almost guarantee you that I make more money than you. And no, it’s certainly not from working at walmart. I just made $70,000 last year. Where you at with your pay? Put up or shut up!

  • Kamakosmo says:

    Only a tool would throw a dollar figure on here…which these days is average at my best my friend. I won’t embarass you here. You are just a keyboard warrior, nothing more. Much to your dismay, Sonnen will fight again in the UFC…and you will scrape the dough out of your wallet, and watch him make 80K in 15 minutes…all by yourself :)

  • Sykotick says:

    I made elevendy million dollars last month lol… Who does that?! And what does your cash flow have to do with Chael’s suspension? I personally think the suspension is warrented, not because his money laundering was so bad blah blah, but because (wether some of you believe it or not) his laundering DOES affect his MMA career.
    How? Simple, he gets caught(like he did) he has to worry about jail time(like he does) and the last time I checked, you can’t fight in the UFC from prison.
    Putting your career I. Jepordy(sp) like that is retarded and the UFC has every right to suspend him to let him know that this shit isn’t going to fly.

    And bad fashion choices is a ban-able offense, Matt Lindland in the UFC was banned for wearing an unapproved sponsor wasn’t he?
    MMA-Logic, while that joke was funny(not really) this isn’t a topic had squat to do with boring fighters being cut, its about ACTUAL legal troubles. Besides its the UFC’s perogative(sp) on how they run their business, and on top of that if you want to purchase a ppv full of boring fighters then bd NY guest but stop whining about the UFC’s business practices cuz there is jack you can do about it.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Rampage didn’t get canned when he had his melt down/drunk driving episode, and that had more implications for his health and ability to perform than Sonnen’s legal problems. Leben was arrested for a DUI within the last year or so, and he wasn’t cut or suspended, either. I can’t see any reason to treat Sonnen worse, especially since the offense will not affect his physical ability to fight.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Thanks for input on my “Joke” (I wish it was a joke) sykotic, your input is appreciated (“not really”). The UFC is a mystery to me, it sacks fighters on th rise for having a lackluster performance but wont sack a guy after a positive piss test and then being done for money laundering. I live in Australia and although I find it stupid players in sports here are getting sacked for drink driving and for being drunk and disorderly all the time. Some are getting caught with recreational drugs and are sacked and if they were caught for PEDs they would be sacked straight away without a doubt
    In the cases with Rampage and Leben, they were small crimes where the crime was not planned and could and does happen to many people we all know. Sonnen on the other hand planned to commit a crime which is seen by the government as being so bad you can get 20 years. Sonnen then rolls over and turns narc on his fellow criminals to get off.
    If you are a criminal rat scumbag who cheats you are welcome as long as you don’t go to jail and bring the ZUFFA crew money but if you are an honest hard working athlete who is to scared to engage for fear of losing your career and income you will get sacked is what this says to me.

  • king mah mah says:

    @Kamakosmo- My original point still stands. Professional atletes get special treatment when it comes to keeping their careers when they can’t perform their duties.

    And only a tool would be making fun of people that work at Walmart. Because it’s an honest living. I threw a figure out because of your statement. You tried to throw a low blow at me because I was trying to have an honest debate.

    Embarrass me? Don’t think so. I work hard and have everything I want in life. And I didn’t have to do it by taking drugs and laundering money.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Anyone who thinks that driving under the influence isn’t as bad as white collar crime should talk to someone with personal knowledge, like the friends and family of Charles “Mask” Lewis. What Sonnen did was bad, but it would

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Come on Mike. I have at least 4 close mates that have died speeding and drunk. Not all were driving some were just victims. Driving under the influence is an offence but driving drunk and speeding resulting in a death is different. Just like owing an unregistered gun and owning an unregistered gun and using it is different or hitting someone and hitting someone and killing them. To say that everyone who has ever been DUI is as responsible as the dude that killed Lewis is wrong. Have you ever gone over the speed limit?. I bet you have and there are many victims of speeding drivers. Do you consider a person who speeds to be as bad as the guy who killed Lewis?. I don’t drink and drive and I do think it is very bad but I do know that if I did I would not be up for 20 years in fact as long as I did not hurt or kill anyone I would just get a fine and might lose my DL.
    If you were to put everyone in jail for 20 years that drove pissed (and didn’t kill anyone) half of all adults (at least) would be up for 20.
    Sonnen cheated, he then got done for money laundering and turned rat. he gets no sympathy from me for planning to launder money, then getting caught and turning a rat piece of shit to get off. The man is scum bag, turn coat criminal who cheats.

  • Angry Mike says:

    I’m not defending what Sonnen did. My point is that it’s not even remotely related to MMA, so a suspension or a ban are excessive. Guys who have driven drunk, which could hurt them physically and prevent them from fighting, haven’t even been fined by UFC. As far as the relative seriousness of drving drunk and fraud are concerned, both are bad, but only drunk driving gets people killed.

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