Chael Sonnen’s recent guilty plea won’t delay his UFC return from a six-month drug suspension, as the middleweight contender is expected to take on Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 128 on March 19 in Newark, New Jersey, according to MMAjunkie.
Sonnen (25-11-1) came up short against middleweight champ Anderson Silva in August after reeling off three-straight wins, but tested positive for performance enhancing drugs after the loss. A one-year suspension was recently reduced to six-months on appeal, allowing Sonnen to return in March after accepting a plea deal on Monday to avoid jail time on money laundering charges.
Akiyama (13-3) has earned “Fight of the Night” honors in all three of his UFC bouts, but will be looking to rebound from back-to-back losses to Chris Leben and Michael Bisping.
The UFC 128 fight card is headlined by light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. former title-holder Rashad Evans and also includes Urijah Faber vs. Eddie Wineland and Mirko Cro Cop vs. Brendan Schaub.