Say Goodbye To The Bad Guy

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Chael Sonnen is officially retired. The self proclaimed “bad guy” made the announcement after his loss to Lyoto Machida at Bellator 222 at Madison Square Garden. Chael finished his illustrious career with a record of 30-17 having fought some of the ABSOLUTE best fighters from multiple generations. It’s nothing short of spectacular.

Sonnen made his MMA debut in 1997. Back in MMA’s infancy Sonnen was working with the legendary Team Quest which at the time had some of the very best fighters in the U.S. FIghter’s like Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, and Matt Lindland. After many ups and downs through multiple organizations he made his way to the UFC.

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Chael made his UFC Debut at UFC 95 in 2009 against Demian Maia. Maia was able to defeat Sonnen via Triangle, but Sonnen bounced back. Chael went on to defeat Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, and Nate Marquardt to earn himself a crack at Anderson Silva. Who at the time looked unstoppable. Many wrote Chael off as outmatched, and undeserving.

What happened next was one of the best fight stories in MMA. Chael proved to the whole world that he belonged. Sonnen beat Silva from pillar to post for the entire fight. Until he wasn’t. Silva was able to pull off a hail mary triangle as the round was coming to a close. Sonnen was forced to submit, and Silva retained the title. Undeterred Sonnen continued to blaze a trail for all MMA fighters with how to sell a fight, and promote yourself.

Sonnen continued on to fight a who’s who of MMA elite. Jon Jones obviously tops the list, but you have to throw in Shogun Rua, Wanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson, and FEDOR!! Although Sonnen didn’t always win, he made it entertaining, and people tuned in. Sonnen often found himself at the top of the bill in the Main Event in both the UFC and Bellator MMA.

Many will accuse Sonnen of making MMA feel more like WWE. This is incorrect. Sonnen might have drawn some tips from the pro wrestling world, but the biggest thing other athletes should copy is to be genuine to yourself. Chael was the ultimate bad guy in the lead up to fights. Yet anyone that would speak about him behind the scenes would only have high praise for the West Linn Gangster. Sonnen knew how to bring eyes to his fights, but in victory or defeat his true colors always showed through.

Although his fight career might be behind him, Chael will surely stay involved in the sport. He has a successful podcast and YouTube presence. Anytime he breaks down a fight or has commentary on a current issue people tune in because he always has an interesting way to give his take on the situation. For instance, listen to the man himself re-cap his fight with Lyoto and his retirement!

Stories always emerge of how Chael influenced a fighter, or how Chael sent some money unsolicited to help another athlete out. Yet, you’ll never hear Sonnen talk about this. He seems to be the type to not seek validation, but does things simply because it’s the right thing to do. Sonnen despite the moniker “Bad Guy” ended up very much the “Good Guy”. Thanks for the memories Chael, looking forward to see what’s next!

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