Chael Sonnen has officially retired from MMA, and after a match against Andre Galvao in Metamoris, Sonnen is preparing to step into the booth to call the Battlegrounds fights on October 3rd.
Prior to a pair of failed drug tests that led to his retirement, Sonnen was scheduled to fight Wanderlei Silva, who also failed a drug test and ultimately retired.
Sonnen spoke to MMAMania about his rivalry with Wanderlei.
“I was really disappointed how things shook out for Wanderlei. You got to understand there are kind of two things at play there. First off, he and I are from a different time. We were fighting back in the 90s and anything he would’ve done, now, wouldn’t have been allowed when we started. We were fighting when there were no gloves. I’ve got footage of fighting bare knuckle. He has the same thing. The rules changed and certainly guys from our time, he and I are guilty of it, we didn’t. We didn’t change with the rules.”
“It was pretty easy for of us to justify some of our actions by going ‘Ah I don’t really like that rule.’ That’s the origin of all sins. All sin and all crime comes from the same thing, ‘I decided. I decided this was okay.’ Something is a little bit different here. If you go back to where he started, he didn’t break any rules. It’s different. The rules have changed and sport has changed and they have all changed for the better. They are right and we are completely wrong. But at the same time I get where his mindset was, ‘Hey wait a minute, things have changed over time. This used to be allowed and now it’s not.'”
“And the other thing is Wanderlei didn’t do anything to anybody. Whatever he did or was getting ready to do to me — I was the opponent in question — and I forgive him. I forgive him. It’s the same thing with me. I wasn’t trying to pull something over on anybody other than Vitor. I was trying to get an advantage over Vitor. When it came down I called Vitor and Vitor forgave me. He said, ‘I forgive you. We’re good.’
“I don’t like how it all went down for him. It’s unfortunate, but we’re wrong. The rules aren’t wrong. We are and that’s it. We have to adapt. Head kicks used to be legal on the ground, too. They’re not anymore and now we can’t do them. I’m a wrestler. Wrestlers used to make a living off of getting people down and headbutting them. The headbutt became illegal and you don’t get to headbutt anymore. The rules are the rules. They are good and they need to be followed and that’s it.”
Regardless of the terms Wanderlei left the UFC on, one thing will not change, Wanderlei’s legacy in the sport of MMA.
“I think he was a very meaningful presence in this sport and I think he will be remembered like that.”