You may have predicted that Chael Sonnen’s days as a fighter weren’t in fact over, but chances are you didn’t think his next bout would be with Bellator.
Yes, Bellator has sent a shockwave throughout the MMA world by announcing that it has signed Sonnen to a multi-year, multi-fight deal. The 39 year-old fighter has elected to end his retirement, which he initially announced back in 2014, after he tested positive for banned substances.
In a press release from Bellator announcing Sonnen’s signing, “The American Gangster” stated:
“I’m consistently blown away by the product and presentation that Bellator is bringing to the fans,” said Sonnen. “I’m not nearly done competing and I’m coming after everyone, everywhere. I’m not sticking to one weight class either, I fight at ‘Gangster Weight’ and nobody is safe.”
The announcement reports that Sonnen will primarily be fighting at 205, which is the weight class he was competing in back in 2013, when his last bouts took place. In Sonnen’s last fight back in December of that year, he was quickly stopped by Rashad Evans. No news as to when and who Sonnen will face in his Bellator debut has been announced.
“Chael is an incredible athlete that has competed at the very highest levels of the sport,” Bellator MMA President Scott Coker was quoted saying, “I know that he is going to continue to do just that here at Bellator. When we were in the process of signing him, Chael was adamant that he wants to compete in three divisions here. He already has unfinished business with Wanderlei Silva, but he also wants to fight guys like Tito Ortiz, Fedor Emelianenko and even Rory MacDonald at middleweight. These are all fights that I’d be very inclined to watch, so hopefully we can put some, if not all of these matchups together starting before the end of the year.”
While some will argue that Sonnen doesn’t have the same drawing power that he did, say back in 2010, 2012 when his rivalry with Anderson Silva was in full swing, this is a huge signing for Bellator. Sonnen is one of the game’s greatest self promoters, and chances are he’s going to deliver some big ratings for the promotion.
MMA Fighting.com is reported that the UFC had to grant Sonnen his release, in order for this deal to take place. So, there must have been a lot of money on the table.