Former UFC star Chael Sonnen has assessed the future of lightweight Gregor Gillespie following his recent removal from the rankings.
Since joining the UFC six years ago, Gillespie has made eight walks to the Octagon. In a perfect start to his run on MMA’s biggest stage, “The Fisherman” went 6-0 during his first two-and-a-half years in the promotion, a record that included five finishes.
But since then, Gillespie has gone 1-1 across a near-three-year period. After taking time away from the cage following a brutal knockout loss to Kevin Lee, “The Gift” returned last May, defeating Carlos Diego Ferreira. Despite that impressive performance, it’s now been over a year since the 35-year-old laced the gloves.
His latest spell of inactivity recently led to his removal from the rankings, where he’d occupied the #8 spot.
Gillespie has long been accused of consistently turning down fights, including by lightweight peer Arman Tsarukyan. The Russian-Armenian has claimed on multiple occasions that the elite American wrestler has opted against sharing the cage with him.
Another individual to add fuel to the fire when it comes to rumors of Gillespie’s habit of rejecting bouts is former two-division title challenger Sonnen, who has now reacted to the latest development in Gillespie’s career.
Sonnen Gives Grim Assessment On Gillespie’s Future
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen questioned what’s next for Gillespie, suggesting that if “The Gift” couldn’t get the fight that he desired with a number next to his name, there’s little chance of him doing so now that he’s been ousted from the rankings.
“I’m gonna miss him. I really believed in Gregor,” said Sonnen. “What went wrong? … It’s over, sadly. If you couldn’t get the fight that you were looking for when you were ranked, of course you can’t get the fight you’re looking for when you’re not ranked. This is just basic logic… He had the ability to create a conversation, and as I look at his career, something went off here.
“Now, at 35 years old, it’s just simply not going to happen. When Gregor gave his side of the statement, which was contrary to the reports, ‘I’m not released, I’m only removed from the rankings.’ When he gave his side, he was very clear to shine the wheels of the UFC… He’s delivering a message. At 35 years old, unranked and with a reputation of being inactive, there’s nowhere else to go.”
Having cited Gillespie’s age and reputation as evidence, Sonnen went on to suggest that neither Bellator chief Scott Coker nor ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong would be interested in a free-agent Gillespie.
“You could give him his walking papers today, he’s not going to get picked up. His phone isn’t gonna ring and a voice says, ‘Hey, this is Scott Coker.’ That isn’t gonna happen. Phone doesn’t ring, ‘Hey, this is Chatri (Sityodtong).’ That doesn’t happen because he’s 35 years old.”
With a 14-1 record, a host of finishes, and just one, arguably freak, KO defeat, Gillespie’s UFC ceiling appeared high at one point in time. Some, including Sonnen, even touted him as a possible threat to the now-retired legend Khabib Nurmagomedov.
While the future is uncertain, it seems unlikely that the veteran will find the success inside the Octagon that it seemed he was once destined to.
What do you think the future holds for Gregor Gillespie?