MMA is a rough business. It’s hard to stay on top; sometimes the best fighter doesn’t get the title shot – and, oh yeah, the job involves fighting another human being inside of a cage.
It’s an understatement to say the sport is tough. So when a fighter walks away after having invested years into the world’s toughest combat sport and the purest form of fighting, some would say it is a time for praise.
Chael Sonnen called it quits after a long and storied career, with top wins across multiple promotions and a legacy that saw him as one of the best trash talkers in the business. Many people came out to congratulate him on his run as one of the best bad guys the business had to offer.
However, not everyone is heaping praise and admiration on “The American Gangster.” Some people are taking shots at him. While it is fair to say that a person who walks away from the sport should be able to enjoy a period of mourning after laying to rest their life’s passion for the last decade plus, not everyone has to respect that.
Let’s start with a journalist who takes a jab at Sonnen, albeit one rooted in facts, shortly after he called it a career. An article called him “One of the worst drug cheats of his era.” Ouch. Sonnen did test positive for multiple banned substances throughout his career, ultimately fessing up after being caught red-handed and moving forward as best he could.
Always ready with the perfect response, Sonnen said he was not one of the worst drug cheats of his era, but rather was one of the best. It’s a nice way of saying he accepts what he did, and he knows that no matter what he does, the stigma of a positive test will follow him for the rest of his career – even as an analyst and coach, should he choose to continue in those avenues.
A couple of other people piled on the criticism. One was Sonnen’s former rival, Tito Ortiz. Ortiz scored a win over Sonnen in a controversial Bellator match, where it was alleged that Ortiz “phantom tapped,” in a hold. Faking a tap to get Sonnen to release the hold allowed Ortiz to swing the momentum back in his favor, ultimately scoring the win. Ortiz thanked Machida for taking Sonnen out.
Then there was Phil Baroni, a man who claims Sonnen “stole his gimmick” and made it a PG version. He claimed Sonnen had the mental toughness of a midget and said he was the least toughest member of Team Quest – Sonnen’s old camp consisting of Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland, and Evan Tanner.
Sonnen has never been one to let words get to him. If anything it’s likely he’ll come back with retorts to roast his detractors in the near future. Luckily, as far as fighting goes, he has nothing left to prove as the good feedback greatly outweighs the bad.