Chael Sonnen says he won’t be returning to the UFC after suspension’s end in 2016

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Chael Sonnen (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

Chael Sonnen’s two year suspension over myriad drug test failures in 2014 will expire late next spring, but the former multi-time UFC title challenger insists he won’t be trying to get back in the cage from there.

“I am not coming back,” Sonnen said in a recent interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “I am not putting a toe in the water. I don’t know how to speak any more clear.”

Sonnen’s last in-cage appearance came in November of 2013, where he was beaten fairly handily by Rashad Evans following a surprising submission win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua that summer. Sonnen then coached “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3” opposite Wanderlei Silva, and the two were slated to fight later that year. Sonnen then failed multiple random drug tests for a number of banned substances; after an initially public and vehement denial of wrongdoing, Sonnen finally fessed up to his use of performance enhancing drugs, and the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended him for two years.

The 38-year-old got himself into many major fights in the UFC over his tenure, including two significant bouts with Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship and a fight with Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, but despite those past highs, and the occasional thought of stepping back in the cage, he says it’s not going to happen.

“Am I getting the itch?” Sonnen said. “Man, I never really lose it. When I go to bed at night, I do still fantasize about that. But I fantasize about a lot of things.

“I won’t be back.”

Penick’s Analysis: It’s kind of incredible how much Sonnen’s been able to put together despite testing positive for a high number of substances just a year and a half ago. His podcast continues to gain an audience, he’s now commentating with the World Series of Fighting, he’s been doing MMA analysis for ESPN, and somehow he hasn’t entirely tarnished his image. He still has a significant fanbase despite all of his past transgressions. For some reason there are individuals who manage that, and Sonnen happens to be one of them. It doesn’t entirely make sense, but it’s simply the truth.

[Chael Sonnen art by Grant Gould (c)]

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