UFC star Chael Sonnen, who was already serving a suspension for a positive drug test, has now been suspended by the UFC after his guilty plea to money laundering.
UFC President Dana White told TMZ that Sonnen's contract has been "frozen" while he tries to get his personal life in order. But White also made clear that he still supports Sonnen and wants to see him back in the Octagon.
"Chael Sonnen has gone through a lot in the last few months and we think it's important for him to focus on getting his personal life together before focusing on his career in the UFC," White said. "I spoke with Chael earlier today and he agrees that setting priorities in his life is the best thing for him right now. I sincerely hope Chael is able to straighten out his personal life."
This move comes as a surprise, but it is the correct move for the UFC. As of Monday's plea deal, Sonnen is a convicted felon. Mainstream American sports leagues simply can't stand by and do nothing when their athletes are convicted of felonies, and if the UFC wants to be a mainstream American sports league, it needs to discipline its fighters when their actions reflect badly on MMA. The UFC should be commended for this move.
But while Sonnen's previously reported fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 128 won't be happening, Sonnen is still one of the UFC's most talented fighters in the Octagon and one of its most interesting characters outside it. He will be back.
UPDATE: Sonnen's manager, Mike Roberts of MMA Inc., sent MMAFighting.com the following statement: "Chael Sonnen and the UFC have mutually decided that Chael will take some time off from his fight career to focus on the resolution of some personal issues. Chael looks forward to returning to the octagon in the near future and resuming his quest for the UFC middleweight title".
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