EDITORIAL | UFC 148 is over, will Chael keep his word and retire?
Chael Sonnen may have been selling his rematch with Anderson Silva when he made his now infamous stipulation. After his fight with Brian Stann he said that if he lost to Anderson he would, “Leave the UFC forever”. So the question remains – will Chael keep his word? Should he may be the better question.
For the first round of his rematch it looked like he was going to repeat his previous dominant performance. He took Anderson to the ground, and worked his gameplan very well. However, as everyone saw, Silva obliterated Chael in the second round. His knee (which was clearly legal upon replay by the way) landed squarely on Sonnen’s chest with the force of a bullet and Silva finished the fight. With that shot the air out of the middleweight division was collectively let out. Sure there is still the winner of Munoz and Weidman. Sure there is still Michael Bisping waiting in the wings. Both fights would be interesting to say the least so Silva himself doesn’t need to retire yet. The question, as I stated before, is should Chael retire now that he has been finished by Silva twice.
Sonnen now faces what I call “The Franklin/ Ortiz Syndrome”. Both lost to the champion of their division twice decisively, and both weren’t seeing another title shot any time soon. Instead of becoming a gatekeeper Franklin moved up to light heavyweight, and Ortiz continued to be the gatekeeper for the light heavyweight division. Chael now sits in the gatekeeper position at 185. Does a guy like Sonnen accept this fate or does he do what he initially promised and leave the UFC for good.
The first option for him is to stay where he is at. Before he decides to make any decisions he should consider two very big paydays that still sit in the middleweight division. Two Brazilians still have a beef with Chael and would love nothing more than a chance to punch him in the face. Vitor Belfort has repeatedly stated he wants to fight Sonnen as has Wanderlei Silva. Sonnen fired back with some words of his own and the beef grew even more. Those two fights alone could headline a pay per view in Brazil and I definitely would pay money to see them. They are reason enough alone to stay.
Another option is to move up to light heavyweight and try his hand there. Eventually he would face Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and that would probably be a lot like his second fight with Silva. Jones is on another level right now, and Sonnen would be facing the near impossible task of defeating Jones. A move to light heavyweight would be to kill time until Anderson retires or enough time has passed for him to get another shot at Silva.
The final option is to simply hang up the gloves. He has nothing to be ashamed about should he choose to do so. A loss to Anderson does not mean he isn’t a great fighter. The internet forum dwellers may want you to believe that, but they’re irrational almost all of the time anyway so it’s okay. Chael is an incredible athlete and has accomplished more than most will in the sport. He could walk out now with his head held high and that would be acceptable. Do I think it will happen – no.
Right now Chael should be taking some time off before making any decisions much like BJ Penn did. He has done enough where he could come back and be a featured attraction. He would be main eventing whenever he fights just like Rich Franklin, and just like BJ Penn. I for one hope he stays in MMMA because Chael Sonnen still has a lot to offer the UFC and the fans.