Monday, April 18, 2011
Fate in balance for MMA's Chael Sonnen
By Brett Okamoto ESPN.com
Chael Sonnen's immediate future in mixed martial arts should become clearer by the end of the month.
The UFC middleweight will appear in person before the Nevada State Athletic Commission on April 27, according to executive director Keith Kizer. Sonnen is currently applying for both a fighter's and a second's license, needed by cornermen.
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Typically, licenses can be granted administratively; however, Sonnen is a special case as his license was suspended for six months by the California commission following an abnormal drug test in his most recent fight.
Earlier this year, Sonnen also pled guilty to a federal charge of money laundering. He was sentenced to two years of probation and a $10,000 fine.
"I don't feel comfortable granting his licenses based on his background," Kizer told ESPN.com. "I feel the issues surrounding him are important enough for him to go before the full commission.
"That way, the commission will be able to discuss the issues that arose with respect to his last bout in California, as well as his recent criminal conviction."
Sonnen (25-11-1) will need to persuade at least three of the five commission members to vote in favor of his licensing.
The former No. 1 contender hasn't fought since coming up short in a title bit at UFC 117 last August. The former all-American NCAA wrestler controlled Anderson Silva throughout the five-round affair but was submitted in the final minute.
Following the contest, the California commission suspended him for six months when high levels of testosterone were found in his drug test. He later stated he had undergone testosterone-replacement therapy since 2008.
Sonnen effectively made matters worse when he testified at a California hearing that Kizer was aware of his condition. Kizer later denied any such discussions had taken place.
In addition to the issues mentioned, Kizer told ESPN.com he also intends to confront Sonnen on public criticisms the fighter has made against referee Josh Rosenthal for his officiating of Sonnen's fight against Paulo Filho in 2007. Sonnen lost the bout by submission in the second round, however has stated in the past he never tapped.
It's been rumored the UFC is interested in pairing Sonnen with Michael Bisping as opposite coaches in the next season of the reality series, "The Ultimate Fighter." Sonnen's participation would require he be granted a second's license.
Bisping, who encountered troubles of his own when he was caught spitting towards his opponent's corner in a recent fight against Jorge Rivera at UFC 127, would likely not be required to undergo a hearing for a second's license, according to Kizer.
Brett Okamoto covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com.