“Desperation is like stealing from the Mafia. You stand a good chance of attracting the wrong attention.”—Douglas Horton
One of the biggest problems in this day and age about becoming a professional athlete (particularly in the UFC) is the level of celebrity and notoriety that goes along with it.
Once an athlete has competed at a very high level in any sport, it makes it very difficult for that person to return to a normal life (or job) once their athletic career comes to an eventual end. Given the high risk for injuries in athletic competition, particularly in combat sports, this can happen a lot sooner, rather than later.
For top-ranked, mainstream athletes such as Brett Favre (NFL) or Michael Jordan (NBA), controversy has very little to do with their ability to live a comfortable, post-retirement life, because let’s face it—these athletes earned millions of dollars each year throughout their careers. Survival really shouldn’t be an issue at this stage in their lives.
The same can’t be said about the majority of UFC competitors.
Take Chael Sonnen for instance. Not only does he make his career in a less-than-mainstream sport such as MMA, but he wasn’t exactly one of the top paid athletes in the UFC to begin with (that’s really not saying much when you consider that one of the athletes who just competed in the co-main event of UFC 130 only earned himself $15,000 for his troubles).
Once any athlete retires from competition, coaching is always a possibility, and many decide to take that route, but realistically, other than working with kids, there are very few top-level, professional coaches with the experience, ability and resources to actually make a lucrative, long-term career out of it.
Plus, if The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) television series has taught us anything, it’s that great fighters don’t always automatically make great coaches. In fact, it would seem to be quite the opposite.
But such is the life of a fighter, and to be clear, just because a person decides to make a conscious decision to lead a very public life, it doesn’t automatically entitle them to a lifetime of good fortune and opportunity. I suppose for many MMA athletes, that becomes the trade-off.
It really amazes me in fact, that with over 13.7 million people unemployed in the United States between the ages of 18 and 55, that anybody, particularly the UFC President Dana White, would feel sorry for a guy like Chael Sonnen, who is solely responsible for his current predicament:
"I think Chael has paid his dues. Can you keep a guy from making a living for having a big mouth? He's a big mouth. He says dumb (crap). He says stuff that doesn't make sense sometimes. He lives on his own little planet.
"This kid got, this kid got it stuck to him, man. He paid his dues in every way shape and form and, uh… I think he's been treated a bit unfairly."—Dana White via Heavy.com
So basically, what Dana White is saying is that Chael Sonnen should not have to be held accountable for the things that he has said or done throughout his life and career, simply because he is an athlete—and a “celebrity” athlete at that. At least, that’s how I’ve interpreted his comments.
Sorry Dana, but I strongly disagree.
Sonnen is the exact same guy who had been accused of making xenophobic and racist remarks in the media towards his competitors. He had accused world-famous cyclist, Lance Armstrong, of “giving himself cancer” by taking steroids (which Sonnen then later denied, and insisted that the person who had “impersonated” him via a live radio show had a “Hispanic accent,” which of course...he didn’t).
And almost immediately after making those comments about Lance Armstrong, Sonnen himself, tested positive for steroids after his last fight in the UFC (how’s that for irony?), which immediately resulted in an indefinite suspension by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC).
Sonnen then denied that he ever took steroids as a means of cheating in athletic competition. Instead, he attributed the use to “testosterone replacement therapy” as a way to treat his hypogonadism, even though his testosterone levels were not at normal “replaced” levels during his fight, but completely beyond that of any normal person.
Sonnen even went so far as to create additional lies while under oath at his suspension hearing with regards to apparent conversations that he had with the head of the CSAC, Keith Kizer, where Sonnen insisted that Kizer had given him the approval to use testosterone.
Kizer immediately denied ever giving such approval, and was adamant that he and Sonnen had never even spoke before.
But Sonnen had an excuse for that one as well. Too bad for him, the CSAC, and especially Kizer himself, weren’t buying into it.
But that’s not all, folks.
Unrelated to his fighting career, Sonnen is also an outcast politician-wannabe from the State of Oregon, who was more recently involved in and pled guilty to charges of money laundering in connection with mortgage fraud, which is the same type of crime that nearly crippled the entire United States into a state of complete bankruptcy.
“Sonnen has been fined $10,000 and 2 years probation. He was able to avoid the possibility of maximum sentencing that carried up to 20 years in prison, as well as, a $500,000 fine by agreeing to cooperate with the investigation into a ring of mortgage fraud.”—Source
Not only should Dana White (or anybody for that matter) NOT be feeling sorry for this guy for being suspended for the illegal use of PED’s, but Sonnen is very lucky that he’s not being forced to spend the remainder of his life locked up in a State Penitentiary with “real” tough guys.
But hey, let’s all feel sorry for this guy because he has some pretty funny (insulting) one-liners, and when he fought the UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson “the Spider” Silva (who is unpopular to say the least), he put on a really great and entertaining show (on steroids don’t forget) for the fans.
Sonnen dominated Silva for almost five straight rounds of action...before LOSING (he quit).
Reading between the lines a little, I guess I can kinda understand Dana White’s concern.
I mean, really...
If Sonnen weren’t a fighter in the UFC, then what else could he possibly do to make a living and survive? And what does that say about the UFC?
Maybe he could find work as a con artist? Or a used car salesman?
Maybe a pot dealer?
Or even better...a reality television star? Seems to be working well for Jose Canseco—NOT.
With so many unemployed people out there right now, many of whom possess an honest character with solid integrity, why on earth would anybody want to take a chance on a guy like Chael Sonnen for anything?
I wouldn’t trust this guy to pump gas into my car.
I would tend to think that honesty and integrity are major qualities that any employer would be looking for in an employee, and Sonnen has proved time and time again that he absolutely lacks both of them.
Sonnen needs the UFC a lot more than they need him at this point, but then what?
He can’t fight forever.
Oh well, maybe Sonnen should have thought of that before he compromised the ethics of his sport (thus making everyone involved with it look bad), intentionally broke the law, and went shooting his big mouth off against a man (Armstrong) who has done more for cancer research than anyone else in the history of mankind.
The only people who truly feel sorry for Chael Sonnen are the exact same people (MMA fans) who place “being entertained” above all else.
I’m not one of them.
This isn’t the WWE folks. It’s real life, and guess what?
There are consequences for unethical behaviour.
These are my opinions. If you don’t like them...I have others. Check them out at www.mmehfighter.com