Following a pair of failed random drug tests, both the UFC and FOX are parting ways with recently retired fighter and on-air personality Chael Sonnen.
A source close to the fighter, as well as a UFC official, confirmed the news to MMAjunkie on Monday night. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Neither the UFC nor FOX have made a public announcement of the move, though a source said a UFC official statement on Sonnen’s release is expected soon. A FOX official did not immediately return a request for comment from MMAjunkie.
Sonnen (28-14-1) announced his retirement from MMA on June 11, shortly after a first failed drug test was announced in Nevada. He announced his retirement on FOX Sports 1′s “UFC Tonight,” the weekly show he has been co-hosting for most of its run.
Sonnen was randomly tested in late May in Las Vegas ahead of a scheduled UFC 175 fight against what was supposed to be Wanderlei Silva. Silva skipped out on a random test and was pulled from the fight; Vitor Belfort stepped in for him, but was left without an opponent when Sonnen was pulled after his failed test.
On June 17, Sonnen was temporarily suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, a move stemming from the first test. The fighter admitted using anastrozole, a non-steroidal aromatase-inhibiting drug used to treat breast cancer, and clomiphene, which is used to treat female infertility. He said he used clomiphene and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to wean himself off of doctor-prescribed testosterone after the NSAC banned it earlier this year.
On Saturday, it was reported that Sonnen failed a second test earlier this month, and two additional banned substances were found in his system. The UFC released a statement on that second test following UFC Fight Night 44 in San Antonio, saying its stance on drug testing remains steadfast in support of athletic commissions and a desire that all fighters compete “on a even playing field, free of performance-enhancing drugs and banned substances.”
Sonnen has been a FOX Sports 1 on-air presence since the channel’s inception nearly a year ago. Prior to that, he did analyst work for the FOX family on the big network, as well as FUEL TV. Primarily, he’s been best known for his broadcast work as host of the weekly “UFC Tonight” newsmagazine show, alongside Kenny Florian.
Sonnen first fought for a UFC title in 2010, when he lost a middleweight title bout to Anderson Silva. The two rematched in July 2012 at UFC 148, a fight Sonnen lost by TKO. In April 2013, Sonnen lost a light heavyweight title bout to Jon Jones after the two coached opposite each other on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Most recently, Sonnen coached opposite Wanderlei Silva on Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” and the two were expected to meet at UFC 175, which takes place this Saturday in Las Vegas. Silva was replaced by Belfort in the wake of his own drug testing issues, but soon after that, the news of Sonnen’s first failed test was released.
Sonnen, a 37-year-old Oregon native, also ran afoul with drug testing after his first fight with Anderson Silva, when he failed to properly disclose his use of testosterone-replacement therapy to the California State Athletic Commission. His approved use of TRT after that made him one of the sport’s poster boys for doctor-prescribed testosterone in cases where fighters’ natural levels of the hormone were below the standard.