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Is Chael Sonnen Calling it Quits?

(Sonnen tries to remain calm while scanning for the nearest exit at the UFC 148 pre-fight press conference.) 

How the high and mighty have fallen, Potato Nation.

Just a few days after coming up short (again) against Anderson Silva at UFC 148, the rumors and speculations of what lies in store for middleweight contender Chael Sonnen have already begun to take on a life of its own. And at the forefront of those rumors, is the possibility that we may never see perhaps the greatest fight-hyper in the biz in the octagon again. Now, we aren’t normally quick to buy into retirement rumors that come in the immediate aftermath of a fight, even when they are coming from the fighters themselves. Because, as was the case for B.J. Penn and Jamie Varner, these supposed “retirements” were more or less a way of coping with the frustration that comes with of a string of losses (or in Sonnen’s case, a particularly hard loss to swallow), and were over before most of us compile a “Best of” list for either man. The jury is still out on how long Nick Diaz will hold out, but we’re guessing it will likely coincide with his recent suspension.

But regardless of the semi-thesis statement we’ve just laid before you, the head grappling coach at Xtreme Couture, Neil Melanson, feels that we may have seen the last of Sonnen for now. Melanson took over Sonnen’s UFC 148 training camp after Scott McQuary, Sonnen’s longtime head coach, suffered a heart attack a couple months back, and recently sat down with the ironically-titled Verbal Submission Radio to discuss Sonnen’s future in the sport:

Any time you’re a part of training camp or you’re friends with somebody and they lose, you just worry about them like, how are they gonna handle it mentally? Are they gonna come back from this? You know, I don’t know what Chael’s plans are, but I got a feeling he’s done fighting. I don’t know. I’ve just got a feeling he’s done. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think he was serious when he said, ‘If you beat me, I will leave forever,’ and there’s a very good chance of that.

Melanson is of course referring to the “loser leaves town” match that Sonnen proposed to Silva at UFC 136, an offer that was later retracted in hilarious fashion.

And as understandable as it is to imagine that Chael would be feeling rather hollow after failing to defeat Silva on two separate occasions, despite performing better than any other challenger has against the champ in the process, I would have to say that this would be a huge mistake on his part. Before any of you jump down my throat with claims that I am a “Sonnen nuthugger” or a “Silva hater” as you are apt to do, know this: I am a fan of both Sonnen and Silva, for entirely different reasons.

Yes, I wanted Silva to win on Saturday night, if only to end the smorgasbord of ridiculous claims that have constituted Sonnen’s career over the past two years, but there is no denying that the Gangster from Oregon is still a threat to everyone in the middleweight division. In both his fights with Silva, Sonnen dominated early and often, only to have a simple mental error lead to his undoing. Surely his spinning backfist attempt at UFC 148 was the more glaring of the two, but Sonnen’s presence in the middleweight division is almost a necessity. And besides, who else can cut a promo as awesome as this? No one, that’s who.

The fact remains that Silva has absolutely decimated all challengers to his throne, and, minus a couple of legit challenges he may face down the line (not you, Mr. Bisping), Sonnen was the only man to, as CrushCo so brilliantly stated, make us believe he could actually beat Silva. And to be fair, there’s a good chance that Sonnen could do so if he stuck to and never deviated from the takedown and GnP oriented offense that saw him dominate Silva in the first round of their fight last Saturday. I place a lot of emphasis on the if

But according to Melanson, whether or not Sonnen will truly call it quits is a matter of his mental toughness when dealing with such a hard loss:

I never met anyone that had a scenario where it’s like, ‘If I don’t win this then I’m done,’ it never worked out positive for them because, just in my experience, you have to love the grind and if you love the grind, eventually you’ll get what you want because you give up what you need to give up. Apparently Chael had his limit like, ‘This is it, I’ve had enough. If I don’t win this then it’s all not worth it.’ Having lost that, yeah, there’s a very good chance he could pursue other things. He’s a very smart guy, very well spoken. I know, whether he’ll admit to it or not, he has a lot of passion to be a broadcaster of sorts. He seems to excel in any type of speaking arrangement. He loves doing interviews. He loves hyping fights and I’m sure he loves training. He’s a good fighter. He’s a great fighter and he’s an awesome athlete but he can’t fight forever and maybe he’s at a point he’d like to do something else. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.

Well, if the comments made by the man himself are any indication, Melanson is most certainly wrong. When asked on this very subject by ESPN’s Franklin McNeil, Sonnen declared that:

It’s tough but, unfortunately, it’s not my first athletic defeat. You can’t get down. You can’t get depressed. Every single day you get up, you’ve got to make the most of it.You’ve got to man up sometimes.

Truer words have never been spoken. At least not by Chael P. Sonnen.

So what do you think, Potato Nation? Is Sonnen headed for retirement, destined to be the #2 man at middleweight forevermore, or simply biding his time for yet another run at the title?

-J. Jones

Cagepotato Comments

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Mr_Misanthropy- July 9, 2012 at 11:08 pm
I think Sonnen has multiple personalities, only one of which is a winner.
XENOPHON- July 9, 2012 at 6:14 pm
Texascrazyhorse - Agreed, and he is strong. I am unsure how many fights are left on his contract? Anderson may retire with only a couple more title defenses, or fight a few more and move up for a super-fight with Jones for his grand finale. Chael has at least a few more years to look for a title defense, or at a minimum be ranked in the top ten. Let's keep it real, with earning only $50k a pop for a title shot is a joke, the man needs to keep working.
Texascrazyhorse- July 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm
Should he call it quits? No, I think he still has alot of value. Whether you like it or not Chael brings it harder than most fighters have imagined, whether its hyping or actually fighting. There is alot of value in that for me. I dont think he should ever have a rematch with Silva. He may be able to get further than most in the fights but I seriously doubt that he could ever actually do more than rough him up.

I dont think Sonnen could make 170 and fully recover from the weight cut. I read on one of the sites that he drops 20 pounds of water weight the days leading up to the fight to make 185. He is 35 years old and the body just doesnt drop weight as well when you get older. True he could diet more, but in all reality he probably eats very lean already (his comedy tours he looks like a very big guy). He is a strong middleweight and going to WW, in my eyes, would zap him.
NomadRip- July 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm
Phael's camp is supposedly appealing the knee.
XENOPHON- July 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm
@ blackboxmma - who exactly is making money. I didn't see all the salaries (or who got what cut from the PPV) but in Chael's case I did read he made $50k. Well short of the record breaking PPV numbers of $6.5 million.
XENOPHON- July 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm
rite leg ospitahl - You havn't heard Sonnen complain yet. He is too smart to run on his pure emotion when legal matters take precedent. I'am sure he will do what he knows from past lessons, and that is to speak with his attorney first.
Dyph- July 9, 2012 at 12:02 pm

No offense but you sound like you make breakfast every morning for Chael even though you know he already left.
Dyph- July 9, 2012 at 11:58 am
It may just be me, but I don't care what the guy does, as long as I don't have to read or hear about it. Say he quits; I don't want to hear about his next botched real estate or political endeavor. Say he doesn't; I don't care to watch him wage war versus [random middleweight]. For me the guy gave Anderson a run, hyped the shit out of their fights, and still drew the short end, so why would I care about his next rant worthy endeavor?
blackboxmma- July 9, 2012 at 11:44 am
These guys are finaly making money fighting mma, no one is going anywhere
eric37- July 9, 2012 at 11:43 am
as soon as chael gets back from the bbq in brazil, wwe gives him a call. im calling it now chael vs brock.
KarmaAteMyCat- July 9, 2012 at 11:01 am
WHoa whoa whoa whoa, So Chael didn't beat Anderson Silva oh no! My only question is.. Who has in the past six years? How about the past 14 matches? Nobody is the correct answer to my question. Chael could probably make 170 and do really well I don't care what anyone says Sonnen is an added flavor to this sport that is enjoyed by many. He is right when he says he's been ducked by some of the top fighters look how long it took Nate "the great" to finally fight him among many many others. Look you can hate the guy if you want but he's good for MMA, he's good for the UFC, and I personally enjoy his antics when they aren't filled with insanely colorful comments about a country in which some of my closet friends are from. Chael is a great fighter, sure he isn't A.Silva but who is? Are you? No? Are you in the UFC? No? Me either so less not judge unless you wish to be judged. doo be doo fuckers doo be fucking doo
rite leg ospitahl- July 9, 2012 at 10:31 am
chael should retire, not drop weight not, ask for rematch, just get out. his value depends on shit talking. the only problem is every now and then u have to win fights. im not gonna wikipedia his record but off the top of my head i dont recall a win over a brazilian in the ufc. okay that nullifies his brazilian shit talking. he has two loses to anderson. one of which he gave up i dont care what happened up until he tapped but he said "i give up" thats what tapping means. the second fight he got tko'ed and he hasnt even said anything about shorts or knees or early stoppages. so his anderson talk, while funny, is now just delusional.(i have always said this) there is nothing for him to fall back on. dana i think will see him as an expired investment and not promote him as heavily now. so fall slowly into general population in ufc roster or just say "im the only one to win six rounds against anderson but damn if that guy doesnt find a way to win," and go back to shady real estate deals.
Alan K- July 9, 2012 at 10:17 am
Don't worry, Chael. That job at Fox News will be there when you're done with fighting, whenever that is.
blaphtome- July 9, 2012 at 10:05 am
I think he should cut to 170. He'd have to train like a Diaz for a bit, but he could definitely give GSP a run for his money.
mDino- July 9, 2012 at 9:56 am
sonnen can beat any ufc MW except for Silva and probably Munoz. he shouldn't retire just yet he can still headline smaller shows and make money.
Ricardo Guitardo- July 9, 2012 at 9:37 am
Sonnen vs Lombard....juicer vs juicer
XENOPHON- July 9, 2012 at 9:35 am
He can easily claim that it was not even a real fight and I would buy it.

Just look, his opponent cheated during the weigh-ins/prefight, reverted to greasing himself before the fight began, grabbed his shorts with a death clinch, and continued to strike him even after the illegal knee that we all agreed took place. GRIN

Chael need not leave, because we know he is true champion.
Beef Supreme- July 9, 2012 at 9:34 am
Who gives a shit. Sonnen is probably the most overrated (and over hyped) fighter in the division. Look no further than his fight with Bisping.
Richard Fitzentite- July 9, 2012 at 10:47 am
Which he won.
Mofo- July 9, 2012 at 9:27 am
Answer: No. Next silly headline please.
Warrior 3000- July 9, 2012 at 9:26 am
Im pretty sure at the presser before the fight he said that he was not allowed to retire and that he had to fight a few more fights in his current contract.
Richard Fitzentite- July 9, 2012 at 9:18 am
Why would a fighter not take fights if they are able to? I get it...a true fighter is always trying to be a champ. But this isn't boxing, this is mma. There is money to be made and Dana will pay you for your efforts.

I personally think that Chael has a few fights left in him. Especially if someone else, somehow, takes the belt from Silva (yeah right). I think his main problem at this point is "how do I hype fights now that I cannot say that I am the true middle weight champion"?