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ESPN Hires Chael Sonnen as MMA Analyst; Bad Guy’s New Gig Starts This Friday

(The American Gangster…The Bad Guy…The Stephen A. Smith of cage-fighting?)

Man, talk about failing upward. Four months after being fired from his FOX Sports commentary gig in the wake of two high-profile drug test failures, former UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen has gotten a new broadcast job at a much more prominent sports network. The Associated Press broke the news today that Sonnen has been hired by ESPN as an MMA analyst, and will make his debut this Friday during ESPN’s coverage of UFC 180. That’s right folks, Uncle Chael will now be slingin’ hot takes on the Worldwide Leader. This man is goddamned bulletproof.

“We know Chael has made some mistakes in the past,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Glenn Jacobs told the AP. “He’s been honest. He’s been up-front about it. He has paid for the mistakes that he has made, and he’s moving forward…The insights that he has on the sport and the ways he sees it, our fans are going to be so much better from watching him on the air. They’re going to be able to watch the fight and look for totally different things than they would have otherwise.”

Sonnen expressed gratitude for the opportunity, and made it clear that he wouldn’t sweep his own past under the rug, or minimize the issue of PEDs in the sport:

“I had stubbed my toe pretty bad,” Sonnen said. “I knew it, and I was willing just to take my medicine and go away. But when the phone call (from ESPN) came in, I was very quick to answer”…

“I wouldn’t shy away from a topic, even if it’s one that brought me shame,” Sonnen said. “There are topics like that, and there are opponents I’m going to have to cover that have also embarrassed themselves, but that’s part of the sport, man. I cherish those moments”…

“I am for clean sport,” Sonnen said. “The rules have changed during my career. The rules have changed during this year, which landed me in a tough spot because I didn’t change with them. But the reality is, the rules are good, and to have clean sport is good.

“There are times when you can turn to science and medicine, and that looks like a pretty seductive route. But if I had to choose one of the two, I would not choose the side that I was on. I would support the other side. We need clean sport, and we’ve got to follow the rules, and that’s it. I accept the consequences.”

The AP adds that Sonnen “will appear regularly on ‘SportsCenter’ and other network platforms.” SportsCenter of course, is the popular sports news program where Chael Sonnen once demanded to feel a black woman’s hair on live TV. But that was a year and half ago and he wasn’t even wearing a suit at the time. Professional Broadcaster Chael is a totally different Chael. Anyway, as long as he puts Skip Bayless through a table at some point, I fully support this.

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