Chael Sonnen walked away after a failed drug test. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Just one day after it was revealed that he failed a random drug test in Las Vegas, Chael Sonnen called it a career.
Sonnen officially announced his retirement during the June 11 edition of “UFC Tonight.” A day earlier, the Nevada Athletic Commission confirmed that the 37-year-old Oregon native in May had tested positive for two illegal substances -- Anastrozole, which is typically used to treat and prevent early stages of breast cancer, and Clomiphene, which is primarily used for cases involving female infertility.
As a result, Sonnen was removed from his scheduled bout with Vitor Belfort at UFC 175. The former middleweight and light heavyweight title challenger cited health concerns as the driving force behind his decision.
“I want to stay within the rules, and I don’t fully understand them. I have to put my health first. I have to put my family first,” Sonnen said. “If I know what I know now and I know that this is going to work and I’m going to be able to get my wife pregnant and look forward to having a family, I am going to do the exact same thing 20 more times, which is going to put me out of compliance 20 more times; so let’s just stop with that. Let me just remove myself. There is going to be a day where I am no longer going to have the title of fighter -- that’s just a reality -- but I don’t ever want there to be a day where I don’t have the ability to have the title as parent and father and husband. My health has got to come first.”
Sonnen began his professional career in 1997 and debuted in the Octagon in 2005, but he did not become a major star until his first meeting with Anderson Silva at UFC 117. In that bout, the self-proclaimed, “Gangster from West Linn” appeared to be on the verge of upsetting the then-middleweight champion before submitting to a triangle armbar late in the fifth round. Their rematch at UFC 148 was one of the promotion’s most highly anticipated bouts of all-time. Sonnen succumbed to “The Spider” via TKO in the second round, but he continued to remain relevant thanks to a unique ability to sell fights, even challenging Jon Jones for the 205-pound strap in April 2013. Sonnen made it a point to acknowledge Silva’s role in his career in announcing his retirement.
“I want to thank the single most important opponent that I’ve ever had,” Sonnen said. “I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without this dance partner, and that is of course, you, Anderson Silva. Thank you for the opportunity, thank for the memories, thank you for the invitation to the barbecue even though I didn’t take you up on it.”
Sonnen hangs up his gloves with a 7-7 mark in the Octagon. He last competed at UFC 167, where he was stopped by Rashad Evans 4:05 into the opening round of their 205-pound bout. Sonnen scored notable victories over Mauricio Rua, Michael Bisping, Brian Stann, Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami during his 43-fight career.
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