- Full name Chael Patrick Sonnen
- Birth date April 3, 1977
- Birth place West Linn, Oregon
- Current age 39 years 328 days
- Height 6 ft 1 in
- Weight 185 lb
Chael Sonnen is a rare breed. As a fighter and a politician, he has an opinion, and he wants people to hear it. When he eventually retires, the profession by which he becomes defined will largely depend on whether he can back up his talk inside the Octagon.
A Greco-Roman wrestler of serious credentials, Sonnen exited University and grappled his way to the cusp of the US Olympic team. Emulating Randy Couture's highest accolade, Sonnen earned the right to be named an Olympic alternate, before turning his hand to mixed martial arts.
By no means a naturally talented technician, Sonnen's first four years in MMA were hardly spectacular, building a record of 14 wins and eight losses, including a 1-2 record during his first dip into the UFC.
Not until he competed in the Bodog Fight organisation did Sonnen seriously begin to turn heads, chalking up four straight wins to lead him to the middleweight division of the WEC. There he confirmed his status as a genuine 185lb threat, defeating the highly revered Paulo Filho - albeit on a day when Filho's head appeared to be anywhere but inside the Octagon.
A second bite at the UFC cake had been earned, but once again it appeared Sonnen would fall by the wayside after a swift submission loss to Demian Maia. The Team Quest fighter was seemingly a write-off, but defeat flicked a switch.
Victory over Dan Miller saved his neck, and then a surprisingly slick display of boxing saw off Yushin Okami. Sonnen was making inroads, and he made the world sit up and take notice at UFC 109 by delivering a three-round battering to Nate Marquardt. Only a guillotine at the death could have stopped Sonnen, who later admitted "that was one of the most horrible experiences of my life; I was counting down the seconds until he would let go."
Driven by a new confidence that borders on arrogance, Sonnen put his politician's head on in an attempt to mess with the mind of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. It so nearly worked too as Sonnen battered the Brazilian for four rounds at UFC 117 before losing via triangle choke.
A suspension for abnormally high testosterone levels, plus a guilty plea for money laundering, kept Sonnen out of the sport for a period, but he has since returned to take a second defeat off Silva in their title rematch. It may well be that his future now rests at light-heavyweight.
Victory over WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho in a non-title fight was huge for Sonnen, but everybody knows Filho wasn't on top of his game. For sheer respect, Sonnen's greatest moment must be his first loss to Anderson Silva, when he controlled the previously-invincible champion before tapping at the death. However, the American's biggest victory is his decision win over Michael Bisping.
Sonnen has suffered plenty of defeats, but to label Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira 'a punching bag' is taking the trash talk a little too far. Certain fighters' records demand respect, and Nogueira is due plenty for what he has achieved in the sport.
"Look at UFC 108, which people called the cursed card. That card wasn't cursed, they just lined up a bunch of sissies. All these guys keep pulling out, 'Oh, I'm hurt. I broke my such-and-such. I got a staph infection.' So what? What does that have to do with anything? If you said you'd fight, when they call your name, walk out there and fight."
Chael Sonnen ran for State Representative in Oregon's House District 37 as a Republican, but dropped out of state elections in June 2010.
- Buncey's Boxing Podcast: Barker, Murray, Lockett (Aug 19, 2013)
- Sonnen submits Rua in Boston (Aug 18, 2013)
- Buncey's Boxing Podcast: Haye, Cleverly, Macklin (Jul 29, 2013)
- Buncey's Boxing Podcast: Hatton, Fury, Ryder (Jul 22, 2013)
Buncey's Boxing Podcast: Campbell, Brook, Charles (Jul 15, 2013)