Chael Sonnen: Are We Behind Him Or Burn Him At The Stake?

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By MATT BOONE
MMANEWS.COM Staff Writer

Mike Roberts, manager to top-ranked UFC contender Chael Sonnen, broke the Sonnen camps' silence following the news that Sonnen had failed his UFC 117 drug test, according to the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). The CSAC was the sanctioning body for Sonnen's UFC 117 match against UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, a fight Sonnen dropped by submission back on August 7, 2010 after looking super-human for four full rounds.

Sonnen, one never short on verbiage, has yet to speak a peep about the failed drug test despite “man'ing up” and making himself available for a number of interviews immediately after the fight. Sonnen offered no excuses for the loss, but did remember to remind everyone that he was winning virtually every minute of the fight until the finish. What he failed to mention was that he was loaded with what the CSAC described as “abnormally high levels” of a performance enhancing drug.

And he can't claim ignorance, as CSAC executive director George Dodd revealed that Sonnen notified the commission that he was taking the drug (testosterone) prior to the fight, making it clear that he was well aware of what he was doing.

So what comments did Sonnen's manager have to say on his fighters' behalf (marking maybe the first time in history someone spoke for Chael Sonnen besides Chael Sonnen)? In a statement released to MMAFighting.com, Roberts stated the following:

“It is our policy not to comment on pending actions by the Athletic Commission. Chael is consulting with his legal advisors and physicians and will have a statement in the near future. Chael will file an appeal with the CSAC and looks forward to working with the Commission to resolve this matter.”

Sonnen's first opportunity to appeal the positive drug test will be on December 2, where the CSAC will hold their next commission meeting in Sacramento. If Sonnen fails to make an official appeal by the 12/2 date, he leaves himself open for an automatic one-year suspension, along with a $2,500 fine. It goes without saying that plans for Silva-Sonnen II, which were tentatively scheduled for SuperBowl weekend in January of 2011, are on hold until this situation is cleared up.

It also goes without saying that Sonnen owes Lance Armstrong a gigantic apology — one big enough to match the levels of his own “abnormally high level” of performance enhancement. During the UFC 117 build-up, the middleweight contender controversially accused the seven-time “Tour de France” winner of being under the influence of performance enhancing drugs — which in Sonnen's mind — somehow correlates to Armstrong ending up with testicular cancer. It was a pretty random cheap-shot, but apparently Sonnen may not have been himself (…get it?) while making such outlandish comments. Then again, he might have. We'll find out — hopefully — in early December. So, whadda-ya say? We'll give Sonnen a pass on the Lance Armstrong controversy. One thing MMA fans worldwide can likely agree on is that if Sonnen loses the appeal and is found guilty of breaking the rules on this level, he does not get a pass in the drug test situation. He does not pass go. He does not collect $200. In fact he will instead owe $2,500 and earn himself a trip to “MMA Jail” without a get-out-free card. Well, not at least for 365 days or so.

It's a shame, too. Despite the incredibly impressive performance at UFC 117, due to these accusations, Sonnen might end up being viewed by fans as “all talk” after all. He fought the exact kind of fight needed to back up all of the ranting/boasting prior to the contest, as well as remove the “all talk” label — but again — there may always be an asterisk next to his name now. A cloud of uncertainty. Certainly there will always be an asterisk next to the first (and now possibly only) “Silva vs. Sonnen” fight itself. Worse than that, Sonnen runs the risk of obtaining a Josh Barnett-like stigma, depending on whether or not he's able to clean this mess up in his appeal to the CSAC before it gets out-of-hand in the public, a place Sonnen has stirred up the past few months like a hot pro-wrestling crowd with a top bad guy on center-stage.

If he does manage to win the appeal, a similar (or greater) performance in a rematch against Silva — if the fight can still be made after all of this — wouldn't exactly hurt his reputation either. As long as he's clean afterwards, of course. Due to Sonnen's brash persona, however, this current drug test is all the ammunition needed for the Sonnen-haters out there to have an argument against him for the rest of his career. It might also be just enough ammo for Silva's manager — Ed Soares — to avoid allowing his fighter to re-enter the octagon with his most difficult UFC foe to date. We have our first clue that despite the news, UFC president Dana White appears to likely still be in favor of Silva-Sonnen II, at least to those who care to read into his initial comments on the matter.

We'll let the calendar and clock do its' thing and wait this one out to find out how all of that goes. Here's hoping Sonnen cleans all of this up, all-the-while proving he was clean to begin with, so we can get our rematch, spend our $50 and hope for at least half of the excitement of Silva-Sonnen I. If we get that much, I'm sure everyone can agree that we will be more than fulfilled on the entire Silva-Sonnen feud, ranked by MMANEWS.COM as one of the top five today. If it goes the other route, well, that just plain sucks.

What is everyone out in cyber-land thinking of all of this Chael Sonnen controversy? Should he be burned at the stake? Should he have a fair appeal before judgement is passed? Are we still interested in Silva-Sonnen II if he loses the appeal? Speak up on these hot topics and more in the MMANEWS.COM Forums and/or the MMANEWS.COM Facebook Page.

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