At UFC 159, Chael Sonnen was unsuccessful in his third attempt at UFC gold. However, unlike his two exciting performances against the greatest fighter in the world in Anderson Silva, Sonnen's fight against Jon Jones was the most lopsided loss of the West Linn native's career. Jones, the highly-regarded 24 year-old Light Heavyweight champ, used his superior size and grappling to dominate and down Sonnen, before finishing him off with vicious ground and pound in the first round. The only damage that Jones sustained was a badly broken toe that he inflicted upon himself, but Sonnen was unable to capitalize on the gruesome injury.
Very few fans or analysts believed that Sonnen would win the belt. Jones entered the title bout as a 9-1 betting favorite. However, few believed that Sonnen would appear so vulnerable and helpless against the champion. After this fight, it is clear that at age 36, Sonnen just does not have it in him anymore. He does not have the skill or youth to contend for a championship and he knows it. In the post-fight interview with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan, Sonnen gave some honest comments about his future in MMA. He said, "I'm not going to be one of the guys who hang around if he doesn't have a road to the title. I believe that was my last opportunity."
Chael Sonnen's fighting days may be over. However, it would be foolish to assume that he will fade from the spotlight. MMA still needs him. They need his absurd, hilarious commentary. Without him, the UFC will be missing the flavor he brings to the cage, and like the company man that he is, Sonnen will stick around.
Chael Sonnen is an entertainer first and a fighter second. He is an opportunist. Those that are close to Sonnen know that he is not the crude and cocky personality that he delivers in front of the cameras. However, they know that he is a master at self-marketing. When Sonnen talks, people listen. He is one of the UFC's biggest pay-per-view draws, even more so than some UFC champions. As the best personality in the business, Sonnen also has the potential to work commentary for the UFC for years. If that disinterests him, he just might write another book and people will actually buy it (His first book was titled The Voice of Reason; A VIP Pass to Enlightenment). And after he successfully sent two members of his team to the finals in the Ultimate Fighter, Sonnen's stock as an MMA coach is sky high.
So what's next for him? Only time can tell. But MMA needs him. He is the one fighter in the UFC that gets people interested, and he has already done leaps and bounds to expand the popularity of combat sports. Hopefully, Sonnen will return to West Linn and make a few appearances in his restaurant, Mean Street Pizza. If you are an MMA fan and you see him there, take a moment to say thanks. He's done more for the sport than most fighters ever will.