In the immediate aftermath of UFC 117 Chael Sonnen looked like one of the biggest stars in the sport, with the charismatic middleweight having surprised even his biggest fans by dominating champion Anderson Silva for twenty-three straight minutes before being caught in a triangle choke. So powerful was the groundswell behind Sonnen that Dana White and Joe Silva chucked away their tried and tested matchmaking rules to give him a second chance to unseat the Brazilian. But just a few days after the instant rematch was announced the fight was cancelled when it was revealed that Chael Sonnen had tested positive for an elevated level of testosterone.
Chael Sonnen’s response was to reach for his own tried and tested tactic; he lied, lied and lied again.
The lies may have begun while he was still maintaining a public silence, with media outlets reporting Sonnen was blaming California for not notifying him of the problem with his sample when it was revealed that he had failed to give advance warning of the postive test to either his manager Matt Lindlard or the UFC. What’s more a story was quickly pushed by middleweight contender Nate Marquardt and other MMA figures the positive test result was the consequence of the flu medicines that Sonnen had been taking. For so many people to latch onto this talking point, somebody must have been feeding the suggestion.
These however were simply appetizers for an Oscar-worthy performance of lying which the MMA world was greeted to when Sonnen appeared before the California State Athletic Commission in a bid to overturn or at least reduce his twelve month suspension. In a master class of dissembling Sonnen claimed that testosterone wasn’t a steroid and tried to pretend that informal ad hoc discussions were enough to get official exemptions. Two claims that would stretch the credibility of any fighter let alone one who due to his Olympic background should be more knowledgeable about PEDs and bureaucratic procedures than most.
The incompetent California commission lacked the records to disprove Sonnen’s claims and in a shameful decision rewarded him for his strawman of an argument by halving his suspension. Unfortunately for Sonnen in his testimony he crossed the most powerful man in the most powerful commission in the sport. Sonnen claimed that he had discussed his need for a therapeutic use exemption with Nevada’s director Keith Kizer, and that Kizer had informally gave the green light. An angry Kizer made clear that he had never spoken to Chael Sonnen in his life. Undaunted Sonnen returned to the lie in an interview with MMA Live, claiming that Kizer was merely denying knowing anything because of his responsibilities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Kizer again angrily denied such a suggestion saying that “”HIPPA does not apply to the NSAC as we are not a medical provider”.
At the same time the reasons behind Sonnen’s mysterious withdrawal from the race for Oregon State Congress, with the news breaking that he had pleaded guilty to money laundering. The UFC stepped in to suspend Sonnen and cancel his planned match with Yoshihiro Akiyama. The irony of this is that with Sonnen’s sentencing not planned until April 8th all the benefits of his performance at the CSAC had been lost. Unfortunately for Sonnen, his license in Nevada had expired and Kizer was making it clear that he was in no mood to rubber stamp any application.
As first reported by the Wrestling Observer($) Zuffa attempted to make peace between the wayward fighter and the Commission in their home state, organising a meeting involving Kizer, Sonnen and UFC officials. The meeting however went badly as Kizer publicly confirmed today in an interview with MMA Junkie. Kizer blamed Sonnen for the failure of the meeting, saying that the fighter had “gave some very strange story and claimed, ‘My manager and you talked about therapeutic exemptions, and therefore, I just used the wrong word. I should have said ‘my’ instead of ‘I.’ As in ‘my manager’ instead of ‘I”. Kizer left no doubts about his contempt for this explanation saying that “I was very straight with him, saying, ‘That’s a ridiculous explanation”.
Kizer went on to tell MMA Junkie that Sonnen will have to apply to a full meeting of the Commission to be relicensed. Unusually this will also be true should he need a seconds’ license for a coaching role in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. And Kizer’s lack of warmth for Sonnen was made abundantly clear when he said that such a hearing would not only deal with the fallout of the California hearing but also his attempt to claim that he had not submitted to Paulo Filho’s armbar at WEC 31; a shameless fraud that he clearly began to repeat after the end of his title fight at UFC 117. Luckily Silva’s astute holding onto the hold and a telling instant reply on the big screens exposed yet another Sonnen lie.
Such a thorough investigation into whether Sonnen is a man with the character worthy of fighting in the Octagon is long overdue. Repeatedly over the past twelve months and before he has simply lied, lied, lied. Alarmingly that was clear in the build up to the his match with Anderson Silva at UFC 117, with (to pick just two examples) Sonnen was caught lying about not having a twitter account and accusing Lance Armstrong of taking performance enhancing drugs. And yet this pathological pattern of deceit was ignored by the MMA media who were too busy falling in love with his wisecracks and aggressive attitude.
Hopefully following Kizer leads MMA journalists will now start asking the tough questions they should have been asking from the start. Not least there should be a proper look into Sonnen’s testimony back on December 2nd. We need to know whether the evidence provided by his doctor was credible given that that the doctor was a local practitioner who seemingly lacked basic knowledge of the side effects of prolonged anabolic steriod use. We need to know why an Olympic level athlete believes its appropriate to secretly inject himself with testosterone in fearsomely large doses. Above all we need to know how a person that since childhood was should have been signficiantly weaker than the average male due to delayed puberty caused by Hypogonadism, had such a glittering athletic career.
There are so many questions that have to be asked as one after another of Chael Sonnen’s lies are exposed. Make no mistake about it, as his lies unravel Sonnen is fighting for his very career. And the fact that these lies have been so self defeating shines a light onto Sonnen’s character. To put it simply he lies not because its in his interests but because its in his nature.