Former UFC fighter Chael Sonnen has officially ended his retirement, and has signed a multi-year, multi-fight deal with Bellator to compete in their light heavyweight division.
During his career with the UFC, Sonnen fought in both the organization’s middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. Chael was one of the biggest names in MMA before receiving a two-year suspension in 2014 for failing a drug test, which ultimately led to his retirement. Since then, Chael’s fans have been speculating about whether or not he would ever return to the octagon, and were shocked by the surprising turn of events with Sonnen signing with Bellator, the UFC’s biggest competitor, according to MMA Junkie.
Twitter reacts to former UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen signing with Bellator https://t.co/EBOTIuFJvs
— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) September 16, 2016
“I’m consistently blown away by the product and presentation that Bellator is bringing to the fans,” Sonnen said. “I’m not nearly done competing and I’m coming after everyone, everywhere. I’m not sticking to one weight class either, I fight at ‘Gangster Weight’ and nobody is safe.”
“I’d like to go at light heavyweight. I’ve been mentally preparing to compete and I was thinking about going into the middleweight division. I think with the change of being over in Bellator, just looking at the lineup, looking at the guys they have, I just think 205 is the place to be for right now.
“That can change overnight. Rory MacDonald got signed, one of the best talents out there, and he did an interview talking about he wants to go up to 185. He’s going to need some opponents. I personally believe that Fedor (Emelianenko) is on his way to Bellator. I’ve heard these rumblings. Usually in this business, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I don’t think he’s coming to 205, so there’s an opportunity at heavyweight. But I fight at Gangster Weight. Get on the scale. Whatever it says, man, you either want to fight or you don’t, and I do.”
“Chael is an incredible athlete that has competed at the very highest levels of the sport,” Bellator President Scott Coker said, adding that Chael joins the list of other former UFC fighters who signed with the organization including Benson Henderson, Rory MacDonald, and Phil Davis.
“I know that he is going to continue to do just that here at Bellator,” Coker continued. “When we were in the process of signing him, Chael was adamant that he wants to compete in three divisions here. He already has unfinished business with Wanderlei Silva, but he also wants to fight guys like Tito Ortiz, Fedor Emelianenko and even Rory MacDonald at middleweight. These are all fights that I’d be very inclined to watch, so hopefully we can put some, if not all of these matchups together starting before the end of the year.”
— Cage-Fights.com (@OregonMMA) September 16, 2016
According to MMA Fighting,Chael Sonnen said he first became interested in Bellator last year, and after three phone calls with Coker, decided to sign the three-year, six-fight deal, the biggest deal he has ever signed. Sonnen didn’t provide many specifics as to why he chose to make the move to Bellator, but he did say he is looking at November for his big comeback, and is hoping to take on another former UFC fighter Tito Ortiz.
The Rulers Back.
— Chael Sonnen (@ChaelSonnen) September 16, 2016
“We were in the same division in college, same weight class, same conference. I’d see him around at events. I still see him around at the events, but he looks at me the same way I look at him. I look at him like, Tito, you know I could whip your ass. And he gives me that exact same look,” Sonnen said. “Every time we’re in the same room together, it’s like this big alpha male contest. And he knows it’s going on, and I know it’s going on. So if the Bad Boy wants a piece of the Bad Guy, all you gotta do is say my name. I said his name. All he has to do is say mine.”
According to ESPN, Sonnen submitted four drug tests to the UFC’s anti-doping program, all of which came back negative, before signing with Bellator, who does not have a year-round anti-doping program. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) confirmed the tests on their website.
“Everything was fine,” Sonnen said. “They tested me at least four times. It could have been more. I think four was the number, and yeah, there was no problem. I’m on the other side of the tracks now.”
— Fight Network (@fightnet) September 17, 2016
Although all four tests came back negative, Bellator included a $500,000 fine in Sonnen’s contract, which would be paid if he failed another drug test.
“If I was to fail a test under my Bellator contract, it would cost me 100 percent of my purse and $500,000,” Chael said. “That is in writing.”
What do you think about Chael Sonnen’s decision to step out of retirement and sign with Bellator? Leave your comments below.
[Featured Image by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images]