Following a Tuesday announcement that he failed a Nevada State Athletic Commission-issued drug test, Chael Sonnen (28-14-1 MMA, 7-6 UFC) has retired from mixed martial arts competition.
Sonnen used his co-host platform on Wednesday’s edition of FOX Sports 1â€²s “UFC Tonight” to officially retire from active competition, bringing his 17-year career to an abrupt end.
“I want to take an opportunity to officially announcement my retirement from competitive mixed martial arts,” Sonnen said. “I had a great time. I want to thank Roy Pittman. I want to thank Dave Sandal. I want to thank my coach Clayton Hires. These guys taught me how fight, they taught me how to persevere and they stood by me through thick and thin.
“I want to thank FOX, I want to thank the leadership of the UFC. I want to thank a man named Bill Brady, who gave me a second wind if you will. He’s a member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and he believed in me at a time when I really needed somebody too, and I owe the second wind of my career to him. I am proud to call him a friend. I also want to thank the most important opponent I’ve ever had. I couldn’t have got here without this dance partner, and that is of course you, Anderson Silva. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for the memories, thank you for the invitation to the barbeque, even though I didn’t take you up on it. “
A random drug test admitted to Sonnen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission this past month resulted in the 37-year-old testing positive for two banned substances.
Sonnen would later explain the positive results were a product of him taking fertility medication to help impregnate his wife and taper off testosterone-replacement-therapy, which was banned by the NSAC earlier this year.
According to Sonnen, that medication worked. However, it came at the price of a positive test.
While Sonnen admits his first reaction was a defensive one, he now takes full responsibility for the results.
“I absolutely take responsibility,” Sonnen said. “The one thing when I spoke with Dana White yesterday when Dana White went and spoke with Mike Hill on the ‘Pregame’ show. He was very clear to say, ‘Chael needed to talk to the commission.’ Now I do agree with that and I am well aware, as is my management team, that we do need to talk to a commission.
“This was out-of-competition testing. This has never happened to me. I’m only the third athlete ever that’s had to go through this. There’s also a bit of an expectation on my behalf that the commission will understand as I’m transitioning off testosterone as we’ve talked about a number of times. In the meanwhile, my wife and I were having problems with fertility. This is a matter of health, and this is a matter of being a parent and being able to live the next chapter of my life. At no point was there an attempt to slip around the system.”
Even though Sonnen is one of the UFC’s top-drawing fighters with a tremendous following, he feels the importance of raising a family far exceeds his need to continue his professional career.
“I want to stay within the rules,” Sonnen said. “I don’t fully understand them and I have to put my health first. I have to put my family first. If I know what I know now, and I know this is going to work and I’m going to be able to get my wife pregnant and have my family. I am going to do the exact same thing 20 more times, which would put me out of compliance 20 more times. Let’s just stop with that. Let me remove myself.
“There is going to be a day where I’m going to no longer have the title of fighter. That’s the reality. But I don’t ever want there to be the day where I can’t have the title of parent and father and husband. My health has got to come first.”
Sonnen retires from the sport with 43 professional fights and a record of 28-14-1. His outstanding accomplishments include two UFC championship fights against Anderson Silva and another against Jon Jones.
While Sonnen competed under the UFC banner at both light heavyweight and middleweight, his primary success came at 185 pounds. His 35 takedowns landed in middleweight competition stand as the most in divisional history, while his 1,300 total strikes landed rank second all-time.