Opinion: Chael Sonnen’s Retirement
By Jesse Heitz
Every once in a while even the most seasoned of MMA writers, not that I consider myself a member of that contingent, is taken completely by surprise. Yet, I the diehard cynic was caught off-guard by the retirement of Chael Sonnen, a story which by the way can be viewed here at Full Contact Fighter.
In the wake of his difficulties regarding his failed random pre-UFC 175 drug test and admitted troubles understanding the NSAC’s rules regarding substances labeled as performance-enhancing, Sonnen rapidly opted to hang up his gloves. During the announcement of his retirement on “UFC Tonight”, as recorded by MMAMania, Sonnen stated,
“I want to talk directly to the thousands and thousands of fans who have supported me throughout my career: Guys, I had a great time. And there are so many people to thank, from the leadership of UFC to the people here at FOX, who have given me such a wonderful platform and opportunity. I want to thank my coach, Clayton Hires, who has stood by me through thick and thin and taught me how to work hard and taught me about discipline…. I don’t want to be out of bounds, I want to be in compliance. But, in the three years that I have studied these rules, I’ve gotten conflicting reports and I’m no closer to understanding them now than I have ever been. My health is going to come first, my family will always come first. And some day, I will not have the title of fighter — I will lose that title. But, I will never lose the title of parent and father. That is what is very important to me. And at this time, I would officially like to announce my retirement from competitive mixed martial arts. I am officially done. I will not step foot in that Octagon again.”
To be honest, and this comes from a guy who generally detested the antics and conduct of Sonnen, and as any reader knows, wrote about him numerous times, I’m a bit taken aback by this statement. It’s uncharacteristically classy, it definitely doesn’t fit the professional Sonnen mould which seemed to be constantly geared towards rabblerousing.
I’ll definitely admit that I’ll be sad to see Sonnen go. For all of his microphone drawbacks, in my opinion, he was a game competitor, who seemed to be a genuinely nice guy outside of the cage. To that end, I hope he takes care of himself and his family, a near two decade long career is quite a good run. However, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Sonnen, I’m sure there’s a place for him in the UFC to provide some much needed commentary, God knows the fans would surely enjoy it.