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« | Home | »

Chael Sonnen: “They found me guilty for taking a legal substance (testosterone)”

By Zach Arnold | October 5, 2011

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It was an interview featuring two participants (Chael Sonnen and Mauro Ranallo) that you knew, at some point, would devolve into who knows what. It inevitably reached that point of absurdity… and more.

Sonnen immediately said that he would be ‘defending his Middleweight championship’ against Brian Stann on Saturday night in Houston. When asked about what weight he’s at now and if he’ll be able to make the cut, he described it as a ‘painful, struggling challenging week for (making) weight.’ When asked why he hasn’t been publicly trash-talking Brian Stann, he quipped back with this response:

CHAEL SONNEN: “Look, I don’t try to get under someone’s skin. I don’t talk trash. I hear that said about myself but I don’t do that. I’m the most respectful guy in the sport. The difference is I’ve got a different opinion of what respect is. A lot of guys think it’s to be fake. A lot of guys think it’s respectful to bow to your face and stick a knife in your back when you turn around. I will tell you to your face that when you turn I’m going to put a knife in your back and then I’ll do it.

“I think he’s great, you know, I was in the WEC with him, traveled the road(s) with him, we were in different weight classes. He was the king of his division, I was the king of mine and frankly he was pretty green back then. He was pretty new to the sport and he still won the championship. So, all these years removed, it’s been a lot of fun to watch him do well. There’s not a lot of good guys in the locker room in this business, there’s a bunch of dirt bags. But he’s one of the good guys, so he’s all right with me.

MAURO RANALLO: “Who do you think is the biggest dirt bag in the sport right now?”

CHAEL SONNEN: “That’s my business, brother, that’s my business. Time will work itself out and he and I will meet, but for now I’ll keep that to myself. I’ve got Brian Stann in my sights.”

MAURO RANALLO: “Well, would it be Anderson Silva, who you actually begrudgingly gave some props to regarding his performance against Yushin Okami someone who you helped prepare. Are you beginning to soften on The Spider?”

CHAEL SONNEN: “No, absolutely not.”

MAURO RANALLO: “And do you see that as being the next target after you get past Brian Stann?”

CHAEL SONNEN: “Well, I already know who the next target is. My opponent is set, the date is set, and the venue is set. But before we get to anything to of that, I have to take care of business in Houston on Saturday night.”

Sonnen stated that he had changed up his management & training team in preparation for Saturday’s fight. He’s now training out of Scott McQuary’s facility in Tualatin, Oregon with coach Clayton Hires. He described the state of Team Quest as “a big revolving door … I think the rain gets to (people) a little bit in Portland.”

As for what kind of game plan the 2.5-to-1 favorite will implement against Stann…

“What’s a game plan? What does that mean? You got a bunch of guys with their 8th grade educations and their gold teeth sitting around trying to break down a fight. Listen, it’s a fist fight in a steel cage in Texas on Saturday night. There is nothing more simplistic in life than that. I don’t exactly need a plan. I walk out there when the guy in the shark suit gets out of my way and the referee with the dreadlocks says ‘get it on,’ I get it on.”

Revisiting history vs. revisionist history

The issue of Sonnen coming off his suspension for TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) was brought up. This was clearly not something he wanted to harp on at-length but decided to make his case and try to get it out of the way. I don’t think that worked out so well during this interview. Mauro asked him about the suspension and if he would fight in California again after issues relating to ‘elevated testosterone’ levels.

“First off, shame on you for putting out a false report. Not only did I not have elevated testosterone (levels), I was never even accused of that. The state of California never even accused me of that. Josh Gross went on ESPN and falsely reported that. I was never even up against those charges. I took testosterone and testosterone is 100% legal and shame on you as a member of the media for not coming out and not blasting the commission for that. I took testosterone, I offer no apology. Testosterone is not a banned substance in any of the 46 states that govern MMA or the two provinces in Canada. It is completely legal. They banned me for taking a legal substance and I never took an elevated amount, ever. I was never even accused of that other than by Josh Gross who got it on ESPN and by then it was all over the wire.

“They don’t know their own rules. I’m not trying to be condescending, I’m not trying to do any of those things but it’s that frustrating. They brought me in for taking testosterone. I had to explain to them that it’s not against their rules. They said, ‘hey, you took testosterone,’ and I said, “I sure did.’ I said, ‘look on page three of your own rule book, testosterone is legal.’ There’s very few things that are legal, you know, it’s a very sensitive list. Caffeine, for example, is illegal. Aspirin’s illegal, so it’s very sensitive. Testosterone is one of the few things that’s legal. So, they turn to page three and say, oh my goodness, he did take a legal substance, what do we do now?

So, they changed the argument. Right on the spot, they changed the argument to a disclosure issue. And that wasn’t what I was brought there for but of course I was ready for that and I had disclosed it. I disclosed it four different ways, three of which I could prove in writing and I submitted that. So, they changed the argument on me again and they just continue to do that and ultimately they said, all right, let’s just split the difference. We wanted to suspend you for a year, how about we just do six months? Well, there’s no such things. I break a rule, I serve a year, that’s it. If I didn’t break up a rule, you apologize and I get up and leave now. Of course, name one government agency that’s ever going to admit fault. So, they stick me with a six month suspension and now here, a year later, I’m on a radio show with a guy that still thinks I have elevated testosterone. I was never even accused of that. Josh Gross made it up.”

Sonnen further elaborated on the paperwork process in California and wanted to stress how each state handles drug & medical testing issues differently.

“When I got to Nevada, there’s an actual process. There’s a process of disclosure and you will receive a form and when you’re done you fold it up and stick in your wallet and you can pull it out and go, “look, I’m approved,” and you can hold it up just like you would a license. California doesn’t that have process. California uses the word ‘disclose.’ That’s it. So, now you’re left with your own ability to try to figure out what ‘disclose’ means. So, we disclosed it, we told them in an e-mail. Then we went back and re-disclosed it, told them face-to-face. Then we went back and re-disclosed it and wrote it all down. So when we get to the hearing they look at it and go, ‘well, we don’t like this, this is too broad.’ And I’m sitting there going, well, I tend to agree, I tend to agree that it’s a little bit broad. But it’s your rule, either way. You came up with the rule, I followed your rule. You don’t now get to punish me because you think you misappropriately wrote your rule. But that’s a really relevant fact and the point that I’m trying to make there isn’t this ‘poor me, they abused me.’ That’s fine, I can live with that.

“What I’m getting at is that each state is different. Look into the rules of that state. Don’t carry anything with you from state to state. If you were told something in New Jersey, don’t carry that with you to Oregon. Go to Oregon and start from scratch.”

Sonnen said that the cries over testosterone usage in MMA as compared to fighters using other drugs is a symptom of a double-standard at work.

“Testosterone’s really funny. Testosterone (usage) is this big ‘hey, look at this hand, so you don’t see what this hand is doing.’ Testosterone isn’t the best of the substances that are legal, it just seems to be the one that everyone’s focusing on which is fine, keep the focus there and they’re going to continue to miss the other great substances… you know, again, that are legal. Nobody needs to apologize for taking something legal. That’s just a competitive edge, we’re always trying to figure out, you know, what you need to manipulate, your proteins… You’ll hear guys talk about proteins to carbohydrates to electrolytes to IGF levels, you’ll hear all these things… that’s competitive edge, you’ve got to find out for you where your levels are best at. So, if a guy’s taking something’s that legal, then that’s the end of it. If it’s illegal, then you’ve got problems and you should be banned and I’ve been in full support of that. I’ve never taken anything illegal and that’s it. They found me guilty for taking a legal substance.”

Sonnen admitted during the interview, albeit briefly and stopping himself before completely elaborating, that he cleared house and changed up his management team because of the way certain things were handled.

Disgust with Brazilian fighters & PRIDE’s legacy

As for whether or not Chael Sonnen will go to Brazil and fight, he says he’s up for the challenge and that he has a time share there he vacations at ‘twice a year.’ He had less kind things to say about Brazilian fighters, however. In response to Vitor Belfort calling out Chael…

“What do you want me to do, respond to a chicken who never shows up to fight? You want me to take this clown seriously? I don’t think he would show up to save his life and I think that’s wise.”

When Wanderlei’s name was brought up, this is the point when the interview devolved into a mess over whether PRIDE fights were fixed and manipulated. Sonnen challenged Ranallo to truthfully state how legitimate PRIDE was as an organization in-the-ring. Ranallo fired back and said that during the glory years of PRIDE that the company promoted a sport that was raw & violent and said ‘maybe too much so’ for Chael to like. Sonnen was having none of it.

Sonnen said that defending PRIDE is “a level of ridiculous that I’m not willing to go to.” Kind of like trying to defend his testimony to the California State Athletic Commission about his testosterone usage, too.

Topics: Media, MMA, PRIDE, UFC, Zach Arnold | 32 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

32 Responses to “Chael Sonnen: “They found me guilty for taking a legal substance (testosterone)””

  1. Mike Lewis says:

    Sonnen is ridiculous but he does have a point about PRIDE.

  2. Nottheface says:

    “Why can Wanderlei (Silva) win 22 straight in Japan and he can’t win 2 over here (in the UFC)?”

    I know Chael is trolling, but I’ll answer anyway: because he never won 22 in a row and exited PRIDE 4-4 in his last 8 and 0-2 in his last two. The man was already on his downward slide by the time he got here.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      If you look at that 22 fight streak…. Or Fedor’s PRIDE streak…. There are a lot of cans in there. They are completely padded records.

      • nottheface says:

        What 22 fight streak? The longest win streak in Wandy’s career was 8 fights.

        As for the padded records.. yes. there were a lot of subpar competition on their resumes, but Pride fighters were also fighting a lot more than their UFC compatriots back then. Between 2001-2006, the height of the Pride/UFC rivalry, the big three of Fedor, Crop Cop, and Big Nog fought 76 times. In comparison, the big three of the UFC- Sylvia, Arlovski, and Mir -fought 48 times. And while there were a lot of cans amongst the extra 28 fights in Japan, they also faced a lot stiffer competition. Both Fedor and Cro Cop faced 8 top 10 Sherdog ranked HWs (this doesn’t include any of the top LHWs they faced) while Big Nog faced an amazing 12 top 10 HWs. Compare this to the 13 top 10 HWs Sylvia, Arlovski, and Mir fought combined (and Sylvia was responsible for more than half of them). The same can be written for the top of the LHW division.

        I personally prefer the UFC method of trying to make relevant matches for their top fighters, but even so, I can’t logically look at the Pride fighters records and think they were manufactured or paper champs. Even with the “cans” many of them had more impressive resumes than their stateside brethren.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          They were manufactured.

          Here is the problem…. We really have no clue who the top guys were of that time period in Pride.

          Take Pride Bushido 2 for example. It featured the 2nd Pride fight for Mauricio Rua and the debut in Pride of Yushin Okami.

          Okami was boring and they never invited him back. Rua was exciting and he was brought back for long run.

          Okami would have beaten Misaki back then (most likely) and who knows how a fight with Henderson would have gone.

          That matchmaking style made it impossible for us to know who was really the best of that era. It was deceptive matchmaking at it’s worst.

          It’s a blackeye era really that didn’t take true competition seriously.

        • nottheface says:

          One example of a fighter getting 1 fight with promotion is your evidence that they manufactured champions? There is no other reason possible for why Okami didn’t stick around (money? not an impressive showing? Lost to Vitale his next fight?) besides protecting their champs from a boring fighter? If that is the litmus than the UFC dropping Lindland is more suspect than I thought.

          The UFC does a better job than Pride or the old pre-tuf UFC ever did but lets not act as if the UFC doesn’t keep Hardy, Barry, Brown and others around for entertainment value more than the caliber of talent they provide. The fans still want spectacle much more than they do sport. And no matter how much Pride was focused on entertainment over integrity I can’t dismiss their fighters accomplishments or claim they don’t compare to the UFC’s when Frank Mir gets his first title shot against Sylvia by racking up victories over Tank Abbott and Wes Simms twice. Talk about being manufactured.

        • edub says:

          I agree with Notthe face here mostly, but the one thing I will provide as a caveat is we still don’t know how deep the match fixing was going. There are a few fights that are definites (Coleman-Takada) comes to mind, but I doubt there will ever be concrete proof about how many were in fact fixed.

          And that’s not even counting some of the more deplorable judging decisions that happened (to be fair though many bad ones have happened in the UFC too).

        • 45 Huddle says:

          1 example given…. Plenty available… More examples….

          1) Sean Sherk debuted on that same PRIDE Bushido 2 show. Was never invited back.

          2) The use of non-title fights in order to make it almost impossible for their champions to lose the belt…

          2a) Marcus Aurelio submits Takanori Gomi in a non-title fight. A clear cut finish. For their title fight, Gomi wins a controversial decision. Does Aurelio get an immediate rematch? Nope.

          2b) Ricardo Arona beats Wanderlei Silva in the PRIDE Grand Prix Tournament. No question of the decision. Silva wins a controversial decision over Arona in the title fight (I had Arona winning). Was there an immediate rematch? Nope.

          3) The Tournaments were always formatted in a way to get a Japanese fighter in the Semi-finals. The 2003 Grand Prix had Liddell/Overeem, Rampage/Bustamante, & Silva/Sakuraba in the first round. All 3 quality first round fights. Which is the 4th one? Yoshida vs. Tamura. Guarantee a way for a Japanese fighter to make it into the Semi-finals. Either of those guys would have lost to the other 6 fighters in the field.

          Mir beating those guys to get a title shot was because they had nobody in that division worthy of anything during that time. Which is very different then having the talent in certain weight classes and manipulating it beyond belief.

          From every angle…. Including officials outside the ropes pushing on them in order to help or hurt fighters…. PRIDE was corrupt….

        • cutch says:

          All PRIDE guys fought more often (unless they weren’t that popular like Arona) but you should have maybe picked the LHW’s in the UFC as Sylvia had to sit out a steroid ban and Mir had that Motorcycle crash.

          You are correct though.

        • nottheface says:

          We’ll have to agree to disagree then 45 Huddle. You look at PRIDE with all its shenanigans and seem to suggest it negates the accomplishments of Fedor, Wanderlie, and others, and I look at a promotion that despite the fact that they prized spectacle and entertainment over actual sporting accomplishments still provided a platform for fighters to make a case for themselves as being the best in the world. No matter how screwy PRIDE was it doesn’t take away from the fact that Wandy still faced Henderson, Sakuraba, Rampage, and Arona in the ring.

  3. 45 Huddle says:


    1) Fixed Fights.

    2) Had Refs and officials break the rules of the fight in order to help the fighters they wanted to win.

    3) Manipulated the “Tournament” brackets to blatantly favor fighters they wanted to win…. Making it not really a true tournament.

    4) Allowed a fighter with a mask to fight on one of there cards.

    (Mirko Cro Cop high-kicked him into becoming WWE champion in 2011.)

    5) Did not invite good fighters back after 1 or 2 fights (even if they won) because they didn’t like there style of fighting. Which basically created champions of exciting fighters…. Not champions of the best fighters out there.

    6) Created a “judging criteria” that was so BS that you could really pick any fighter to win that you wanted to.

    7) Gave foreign fighters as short notice as possible in order to stack the deck against them for the fights.

    Shall I go on?

    PRIDE was garbage by 2011 standards. It was freak show stuff, that just happened to have some great fighters in it. But all of those fighters, even by 2005, would get wrecked by there 2011 counterparts. Like not even close.

    • Light23 says:

      This is true, but at the same time, Chael is obviously trolling via exaggeration. Zach keeps falling for it. Writing an article about Chael slandering PRIDE? Chael’s been doing that for months.

      • Zach Arnold says:

        This is true, but at the same time, Chael is obviously trolling via exaggeration. Zach keeps falling for it. Writing an article about Chael slandering Pride? Chael’s been doing that for months.

        I didn’t write about it when he was going on his tirade about the Nogueira Brothers and a bus.

        I only write when he opens his mouth about drug usage. You just chose to focus on the PRIDE bait.

        I don’t ‘fall’ for topics. There’s a reason why I don’t talk or interview people like him. Zero desire.

    • The Shockmaster says:

      It sounds like you have a vendetta against PRIDE.

      Pedro Otavio, Is that you?

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Just a realist.

        No organization is perfect…. But Pride gets much more credit then it ever deserved. It was always smoke and mirrors.

        • david m says:

          PRIDE was not smoke and mirrors. You discredit your legitimate points when you say stuff like that.

          Further, the UFC has been known to not invite back good fighters either. Gerald Harris and Werdum jump to mind.

          Also, saying 2003 or 2005 PRIDE champs would get wrecked by 2011 fighters is simply inaccurate. Fedor in his prime would have smoked Cain, Silva in his prime beat Rampage in his prime twice (and Rampage is still a top-level fighter), Mirko of 2005 would beat Junior Dos Santos–watch their fight and see how often a shot Mirko was still able to land his straight left hand. I think Saku would have beaten Condit or Diaz, and 2003 Nog would beat any HW other than J2S and Cain, and would have a shot against both of those guys.

        • edub says:

          First off, lets be honest, all of this is opinion stuff that will never get settled. Just like who would win; Prime Ali vs. Prime Tyson. However, in saying that I will offer my opinion:

          Fedor in his Prime loses to any of the top 3 guys fighting in the HW division today. Probably to Carwin too.

          Mirko of 2005 would have still lost to JDS of today. The JDS of today isn’t the same one that beat up Mirko in 2009.

          Silva in his prime (hormone induced) would have had a hell of a time with the fighter Rampage has become today. Hell he would have had a heck of a time with the Chuck Liddell that existed in 2005. Prime Wand would also be a huge underdog to guys like Gegard Mousasi, Lyoto Machida, King Mo, (let alone Rashad, Rua, and Bones).

          Saku might have beaten Condit or Diaz. Then again he could have lost to Jonny Hendricks, Rick Story, Charlie Brenneman, Anthony Johnson, Tyron Woodley, Ben Askren, Martin Kampman, and Diego Sanchez (that’s not even mentioning the top tier wrestlers at 170).

          Nog would have a hell of a time with the whole HW top 5. Just like he had a problem with Ricco Rodriguez. A prime Nog who tries to play his guard game against a prime Lesnar gets pounded in to mush.

          Now, let me also say that these things don’t discredit PRIDE for me (and shouldn’t for anybody). The level of competitor simply has grown exponentially since 2005. Just like it did from 1999-2005, just like it did from UFC 1 – 1999. The training has gotten better, the conditioning has gotten better, the figher’s diet has gotten better, and probably most important the fighter’s level of popularity/purse size has gotten better/bigger.

          It’s only logical that the level of athlete has grown in a time the sport has expanded so much.

          Using the fact that top guys of today would probably defeat the top guys of 6 years ago to discount the promotion that utilized the most talent in the time period is pretty big reach IMO.

      • Progress says:

        Hes a UFC fan boy. You can’t reason with him.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Reason with me? Everything I said was true….

          Prove me wrong on one of them…. It’s a laundry list of bad things in PRIDE….

  4. Kalle says:

    So Chael Sonnen, roided up cheater, is bitching about PRIDE. Priceless.

  5. nottheface says:

    Zach, any word on if Chael will be permitted TRT for his match in Texas?

  6. 45 Huddle says:

    Bellator 55’s production costs are over $500,000.

    It’s going to cost SpikeTV a $10+ Million dollar contract per year just to make Bellator a viable option moving forward. Probably closer to $20+ Million. That’s a real committment.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      $500,000 for a Bellator show? That’s absurd on its face value.

      If it is costing that much, the burn rate has to be astronomical. I don’t believe the # (yet), but if it’s true then Spike would be smarter just to create their own promotion and cherry pick from Bellator contracts at this point. Of course, never underestimate a network’s desire to deal with ‘turn key’ operations over building from scratch.

      • Keith Harris says:

        The numbers don’t surprise me. Taping live TV costs a lot of money. I think WWE spends over $700,000 a week to produce Raw. Now, Bellator I’m sure wouldn’t spend as much money as WWE, but WWE over the past few years have been pretty ruthless at keeping production costs down, so the $500,000 numbers seem plausible.

  7. Wonderjudas says:

    Are you trying to say that Bob Sapp couldn’t cut the mustard in today’s heavyweight division?

  8. cutch says:

    Jones-Rashad likely for UFC 140 if Evans can get his hand cleared. That’s a fast turn around and even though his personality isn’t quite fitiing with some, you can’t deny his fighting skills and keeping Jones busy just now is the best way to make him a star.

    • cutch says:

      Dana just refuted the rumors on Twitter. “Don’t listen to these HACK **** websites!! Jones vs Evans is not true.”

  9. Zach Arnold says:

    45 Huddle:

    3) The Tournaments were always formatted in a way to get a Japanese fighter in the Semi-finals. The 2003 Grand Prix had Liddell/Overeem, Rampage/Bustamante, & Silva/Sakuraba in the first round. All 3 quality first round fights. Which is the 4th one? Yoshida vs. Tamura. Guarantee a way for a Japanese fighter to make it into the Semi-finals. Either of those guys would have lost to the other 6 fighters in the field.

    There were many things shady about PRIDE. However, I wouldn’t say that subjectively booking tournaments so that at least one native advanced was ‘corrupt.’ I would call it subjective, but not necessarily corrupt.

    Fixing fights? That’s corrupt. But booking in hopes, not of being assured, of getting a native to advance to sell tickets?

    • Jonathan Snowden says:

      And besides, both Yoshida and Tamura were very good fighters. Revisionism that they were “cans” is kind of bizarre.

  10. […] Sonnen Says He Was Penalized for Using a Legal Substance ( […]


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