By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Now that his sentence has been handed down on money laundering charges in Oregon, UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen is now looking to get back into things in MMA. But it won’t be an immediate process, and he understands he has some things to smooth over with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and, more specifically, NSAC executive director Keith Kizer.
“All the frustration and all of the blame is on me,” Sonnen said in an interview with Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com. “I’m the one that chose my words. I’m the one that said when I was in California, I represented to them that I had a conversation with Kizer and he approved my medicine use. That is not correct. Those are the wrong words. My manager had the conversation. I relied on information my manager gave me. So director Kizer is absolutely correct. He’s correct to be frustrated. I chose the words. It comes to me. Now, I wasn’t attempting to mislead anybody, but they’re my words all the same, so I should have to answer to Kizer.”
Sonnen claimed in his hearing with the California State Athletic Commission on his failed steroid test at UFC 117 that he had gotten clearance from Kizer for testosterone replacement therapy in Nevada, which he contends he requires for a diagnosed condition of hypogonadism. He’s now got to reapply for a license in Nevada and meet with the commission in a hearing to get the condition officially cleared if he’s going to continue with it moving forward.
“I need to clear the air with him and more importantly, I need to clear it on the record,” he said. “My takeaway from the meeting with Kizer was not ‘We don’t want to work with you again.’ It was simply, ‘There’s been some mistakes. Our reservation is you’re going to repeat them.’ That’s not going to happen, but what he wants to do is give me an opportunity to speak on the record so that we can get everything recorded and written down and make sure we don’t do those things again. If i was in Kizer’s shoes, I wouldn’t demand anything less.”
But it wouldn’t be a Sonnen interview without him going after several fighters. After seriously addressing the NSAC situation, Sonnen went into his typical schtick when asked about who he may fight next when he returns.
“I called [the UFC] up and said, ‘Give me the worst guy you’ve got under contract,'” he said. “They said, ‘Chael, Wanderlei [Silva] won’t fight you.’ I said, ‘Alright. Give me the second worst guy you’ve got under contract?’ They said, ‘Chael, how many times do we have to tell you: [Mirko] Cro Cop’s a heavyweight.’ I said, ‘Alright, is there anybody available? How about Bisping? Is his dance card open? And then they said that might be a possibility. So that’s where we left off. But that’s just not my focus. My focus is making things right with director Kizer.”
Sonnen did offer some kind words to one fighter under the UFC banner in UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, but in doing so he also lit up the entirety of the light heavyweight division.
“He brings more to the table than just being the world champion,” he said. “He brings integrity, he brings class, he’s good for the industry and he’s good for the sport. And most importantly, you need to do what’s good for sport. I get real frustrated with these guys who are just in it for themselves. But listen, Ariel, Jon Jones is not the hot topic of 205 pounds. The hot topic that everybody should be talking about is that he’s been the champion for three weeks and not one coward at 205 has challenged him. Not one guy has called him out and said, ‘I want to fight that guy.’ If you’re all scared of a 23-year-old kid, turn your gloves in, sign your pink slip and show yourself the door.”
“The one guy they say gets to fight him comes out and says, ‘I don’t want to fight him.’ If you don’t want to fight him, go. This is a business to become champion. All these guys want to tell everyone they’re in the UFC, but they don’t want to have to carry the heavy water. Challenge Jon Jones if you’re at 205. But what do you expect from a weight class that allowed a karate guy [Lyoto Machida] to be champion.”
Penick’s Analysis: Sonnen’s schtick got old fast last year, and it’s going to be coming back with a vengeance now that the money laundering thing is technically in the rear view. The UFC wants him back, he still has a large following that wants him back, and it seems that many are willing to let him skirt by regardless of the things he says and does outside of the cage. He’s going to get licensed again, he’s going to be back in the cage and the UFC is going to get right back to pushing him, and he’ll continue making comments like these.