Chael Sonnen’s recent UFC-mandated suspension had some questioning why UFC officials don’t levy their own suspensions more often, as in the case of Michael Bisping’s recent UFC 127 “Spitgate” incident. Speaking with MMAFighting.com’s reporter-extraordinaire Ariel Helwani recently, UFC president Dana White revealed that Sonnen was not technically suspended, but that his contract was frozen as an alternative to being cut from the organization.
“Listen, what we did with Chael Sonnen is – I talked to Chael Sonnen. Chael Sonnen said, ‘If I don’t fight for the UFC, I don’t want to fight anywhere else. So, if you could NOT cut me…,” White was saying. At this point, Helwani interjected to ask if Sonnen was in danger of being cut for his guilty plea in a real estate fraud/money laundering case (which followed on the heels of a confusing tangle with the Nevada State Athletic Commission over Sonnen’s use of synthetic testosterone).
“Yeah,” White replied. “We basically freeze your contract. Your contract is frozen until you get your personal life together.”
As for when everyone’s favorite pot-stirring insult comic/former real estate agent/fighter will reappear in the cage, White admitted that he isn’t sure and that the outcome of Sonnen’s impending sentencing hearing will likely go a long way in determining the Oregonian’s return date.
“I don’t know,” White said in regards to Sonnen’s return. “He’s still got that hearing coming up in April, so we’ll see what happens.”
Despite his current status as a shelf-warmer, Sonnen has been active via Twitter, calling out several fighters, including Michael Bisping. When asked if he was interested in booking that match up, White replied, “Bad guy vs. bad guy? I don’t know… Chael’s got some things he needs to handle before he should think about fighting anybody.”
Sonnen last appeared in action at UFC 117 this past August in a title fight against UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, which he lost via fifth round submission.