Boxing/MMA

MMA Analysis: Chael Sonnen is a Controversy Magnet

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You know, it is getting to a point with UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen that no news about the maligned fighter would come across as absurd. 

ESPN podcaster/columnist Bill Simmons once coined the term “The Tyson Zone” to describe the moment when a person reaches such a level of infamy that nothing reported on said individual would come as a shock. 

Obviously, this is a reference to the wonderfully bat-sh*t craziness prevalent in Mike Tyson’s past as heavyweight champion. After all, it takes a special type of person to publicly announce your intentions on digesting the children of your opponent. Ah, the good ol’ days of boxing.

Now, granted Sonnen is not eccentric to a level comparable to Tyson, the fact remains that the former Oregon Republican politician has made a number of headlines in the past couple of weeks that have not cast a favorable light on his budding popularity as a fighter. For a fighter who seemingly had reached a pinnacle level in his fighting career due to a Spartan-like effort against the great UFC champion Anderson Silva. Unfortunately for Sonnen, instead of cashing in on his newfound respect and admiration he has spent an inordinate amount of time in embroiled in some serious legal troubles. 

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First, there was Sonnen’s failed drug test following his fight with Silva at UFC 117 that took place in Oakland, CA. The post-fight drug test determined that Sonnen had an unusually high level of testosterone and was subsequently fined $2,500 and faced a year-long suspension from the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). 

Sonnen appealed the ruling and following some very comical displays of ineptitude by the CSAC his suspension was reduced in half. The suspension was slashed based in large part due to Sonnen’s claim of suffering from hypogonadism a condition that requires testosterone replacement therapy.  Sure, it’s an odd affliction for a fighter to suffer from, but given that Sonnen’s doctor testified on his behalf you had to admit that the failed test may not be as egregious as previously thought. 

But, as if that wasn’t enough to douse the heat Sonnen had crated now comes news of mortgage fraud.  Yes, you heard that correctly, mortgage fraud. 

ESPN.com reports the following:

“Sonnen allegedly arranged for a title company to pay $69,000 to a plumbing company for repairs to a Portland home, which Sonnen was involved in the sale. The release states that Sonnen knew that no repairs would be made to the home. Once the loan was funded, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the plumbing company was directed by Sonnen to pay $65,000 to the homebuyer as a cash incentive for purchasing the home. “

Pretty heavy stuff. Sonnen plead guilty to the federal charges and will pay a reported $10,000 fine and have his realtor’s license revoked. Having worked in the mortgage industry for nearly a decade I can state with all honesty that Sonnen’s fraud is not uncommon. Unfortunately, due to the actions of people like Sonnen by industry is now blamed for the near demise of this nation’s financial infrastructure and is now the subject of ridiculous over-regulation. Typically, acts such as these are not isolated events which leads me to ponder if Sonnen had engaged in this type of activity before but came away unscathed. 

But this isn’t a forum for me to wax poetically about the ills of the industry that had kept my bills paid for over ten years. No, this is a MMA site and the point of my argument is that Sonnen’s two most high-profile interactions with the long-arm of the law don’t bode well for the perception of a fighter. Sure, you can look at Sonnen being diagnosed with hypogonadism as a reason for his taking synthetic testosterone. But mortgage fraud takes premeditated thought and planning. So, if you have a person willing to face 20 years in jail on a white-collar crime who is to say that they wouldn’t skirt the regulatory rules as they apply to the fight game? 

The UFC has temporarily suspended Sonnen’s fight contract. So it’s anyone’s guess on when we will see Sonnen in the Octagon.

"Chael Sonnen has gone through a lot in the last few months, and we think it's important for him to focus on getting his personal life together before focusing on his career in the UFC," UFC president Dana White told TMZ.com.