Chael Sonnen is in a unique position. In addition to being an active UFC fighter, he cohosts UFC Tonight on Fox Sports 1 and shows up as an MMA analyst on Fox Sports Live from time to time. Needless to say, it seems like Sonnen would have a possible conflict of interest when it would come to discussing his upcoming fights and opponents.
Sure enough, that situation arose this week. Wanderlei Silva was pulled from his fight with Sonnen on July 5th under a cloud of mystery. Sonnen didn’t hesitate using his position on Fox to trash Silva and throw around wild PED accusations.
If that reaction seems a little overblown, you’re right. While Silva did refuse to take a random drug test, he also never applied for his license for the show, despite having plenty of time to take care of that. It’s one thing for Chael Sonnen, UFC fighter to come out and accuse Silva of PED use and say that his career might be over after getting pulled from the fight. It’s a completely different thing for Chael Sonnen, UFC studio host to do that.
To me, it seems a little disingenuous. I get it – Chael Sonnen is the best trash talker in the UFC today, and fans are compelled by his skills with a microphone in his hand. However, for him to take that persona on the air as (essentially) a spokesperson for the UFC? That seems to me like he’s overstepping his bounds. Imagine if one of the legions of current players that works as a studio analyst for a network in the playoffs started lobbing accusations at fellow players in the league – that would get a pretty negative reaction. For example, A.J. Pierzynski and Jimmy Rollins worked the 2013 MLB Playoffs for Fox – what if either of those guys started crowing about David Ortiz somehow hitting like a young man in his late 30s? There would be a firestorm, because they’re not talking as players, they’re talking as analysts.
I love what Sonnen does to get people hyped up for his fights. But this time, I think he got a little too cute by abusing a platform that is available to only a few of his fellow fighters in the UFC.