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Northwest Athlete Profile: Chael Sonnen

UFC/MMA: Chael Sonnen

Love him or hate him, Chael Sonnen is widely considered one of mixed martial arts’ most important figures today.

He Is Ready To Shake Things Up In The UFC

He’s also a proud Oregonian and one of the greatest wrestlers ever to wear the Ducks colors in the NCAA.

Sonnen was born in West Linn, Oregon and was a standout at the University of Oregon in wrestling, earning NCAA Division-I All-American honors. He specialized in Greco-Roman wrestling and is a two-time university national champion.

Sonnen made a smooth transition to cage fighting, using his wrestling skills and outstanding fitness to overpower opponents, getting on top of them and bullying them with his relentless style.

Sonnen had his ups and downs before sticking in the UFC for good upon returning in 2009. He beat Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt in an epic run to earn No. 1 middleweight contender status and challenge Anderson Silva for the world title.

During the build up to his title fight, Sonnen really put himself on the MMA map with his mouth. His trash talking ability is considered peerless in the sport.

There is simply no more outspoken, more controversial fighter in the game today.

Silva was and is considered by most to be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in MMA history and Sonnen did nothing but tell the world how overrated Silva was

and how badly he’d beat the champ leading up to the August 2010 fight.

Chael Sonnen's controversial ways putting him on UFC's map

Sonnen’s prophecy came true – almost. For four and a half rounds, the proud Oregonian pounded on Silva like no fighter before. Sonnen had won every round against a man with zero UFC losses.

That’s when disaster struck.

Just minutes before his arm would’ve been raised as the new UFC champ, Sonnen got caught in a triangle choke.

The dream was over.

Sonnen hasn’t avoided controversy since that loss. He was suspended from the sport in a steroid controversy; he claimed that he required testosterone replacement therapy. Sonnen was also the subject of a money laundering scandal. He’s back from his suspension, still ranked as the No. 2 middleweight on the planet, and will return to action October 8 against Brian Stann.

Despite his demons, Sonnen is considered by many to be important for mixed martial arts. He’s articulate, he’s intelligent, and he’s totally polarizing. Every sport needs a good villain and Sonnen happily relishes that role. Hopefully, he can keep the controversy within the cage going forward and avoid making bad decisions in everyday life.

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