LAS VEGAS -- Saturday night could have been Chael Sonnen
's night, a second chance to beat Anderson Silva. Instead of basking in the spotlight of a main-event championship match at UFC 126, Sonnen remains stuck in no man's land.
One month after his contract was frozen by the UFC following a guilty plea to a federal money laundering charge, Sonnen remains in MMA limbo. UFC president Dana White told MMA Fighting there is still no time frame for his return.
"I really don't know," he said. "There's no timetable. We still have to see what happens with all his personal problems."
On Jan. 3, Sonnen pled guilty to a charge
related to mortgage fraud that could net him as much as 20 years in prison, but because of his expected cooperation as a witness against others, he is likely to receive a considerably lighter sentence of probation. He is expected to be sentenced on March 28.
The legal issues are just part of a series of troubles for Sonnen, who was also recently suspended for six months by the California state athletic commission (CSAC) after a positive drug test following UFC 117.
In that match, he seemed to have victory within his grasp after controlling Silva for the first four-and-a-half rounds. Sonnen was just minutes away from ending Silva's brilliant championship streak when he found himself trapped in a triangle choke and forced to tap out in a dramatic finish.
Because of the riveting bout, Sonnen was promised a rematch, but that possibility vanished after his positive test result. Now, continued legal issues have him on the shelf with no return on the horizon, even though his CSAC-issued suspension is set to be lifted on March 2.
Sonnen, who turns 34 years old on April 3, has not yet publicly spoken since his legal plea, but his management team said he expects to eventually resume his UFC career as a championship contender.