Chael Sonnen didn’t end his career fighting in the UFC but that doesn’t discount the impact he had on the company during the many years he was competing there.
Sonnen recently announced his retirement from mixed martial arts following a TKO loss to Lyoto Machida, which was also the final fight on his current contract with Bellator MMA.
While the 42-year old “American Gangster” called it a career under the Bellator banner, UFC president Dana White was glad that Sonnen went out on his own terms while likely taking home some big paychecks before hanging up his gloves for good.
“I like Chael a lot. I have a very good relationship with Chael,” White told Sirius XM last Wednesday. “I like the fact that this is the hardest place in the world to stay and make a living here. It’s a very hard place.
“You have to be one of the best in the world to stick around here and when guys can’t stick around here anymore and they go somewhere else and they can get paid and make money, I love it. Good for them.”
When he was competing in the UFC, Sonnen was constantly one of the most talked about fighters on the entire roster.
He engaged in one of the most heated rivalries in the history of the sport through a pair of fights against former middleweight champion Anderson Silva not to mention the way Sonnen elevated the art of trash talking as he became a serious threat to the title.
In fact, White compliments Sonnen for his ability to terrorize his opponent with head games better than anybody he ever saw until former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor came along.
“I don’t think Chael was necessarily a bad guy. Before Conor McGregor, Chael was the best guy out there who knew how to push buttons and not only knew how to piss off other fighters but also piss off the fans and do things like that,” White said.
“I think he was very calculated and very smart in how he conducted himself in this business.”