Speaking publicly for the first time since his California state athletic commission testimony last December, UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen
said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour
that he considered his UFC contract unfrozen and was looking forward to getting back in the cage as soon as possible.
A return to action will not come, however, until Sonnen steps before the Nevada state athletic commission again. During CSAC testimony last December, Sonnen told commissioners that he had cleared his testosterone replacement therapy use in Nevada with its athletic commission executive direction Keith Kizer
. Kizer, however, disputed that. The sides met recently and Sonnen voiced a hope that a second meeting would give more clarity to his situation.
Saying he incorrectly phrased his testimony, Sonnen took blame for the mistake and anticipated the opportunity to allay the concerns of the influential Nevada commission.
"All the frustration and all of the blame is on me," he said. "I'm the one that chose my words. I'm the one that said when I was in California, I represented to them that I had a conversation with Kizer and he approved my medicine use. That is not correct. Those are the wrong words. My manager had the conversation. I relied on information my manager gave me. So director Kizer is absolutely correct. He's correct to be frustrated. I chose the words. It comes to me. Now, I wasn't attempting to mislead anybody, but they're my words all the same, so I should have to answer to Kizer."
Sonnen said the conversation in question took place in 2008 between Kizer and his manager, and that Kizer "remembered something along those lines" but "not quite the way it was relayed" to him. Sonnen said that as a result, he has parted ways with a longtime manager and in the future will personally contact commissions instead of relying on a manager to do it for him.
Fighters in Nevada are by commission rules forced to reapply for licenses on Jan. 1, so Sonnen is not unique in going through re-licensing, but due to his PED suspension in California and the statements about Nevada, his process will require extra steps. Sonnen said he hopes to meet with state officials as early as this Friday. Kizer on Monday told MMA Fighting that Sonnen was more likely to be added to the commission's April 27 meeting.
"I need to clear the air with him and more importantly, I need to clear it on the record," he said. "My takeaway from the meeting with Kizer was not 'We don't want to work with you again.' It was simply, 'There's been some mistakes. Our reservation is you're going to repeat them.' That's not going to happen, but what he wants to do is give me an opportunity to speak on the record so that we can get everything recorded and written down and make sure we don't do those things again. If i was in Kizer's shoes, I wouldn't demand anything less."
Describing the incident as "embarrassing," Sonnen said he is looking forward to the chance to speak with Kizer again, clearing the air, accepting his share of the blame and finally getting a resolution.
As to who he might face in his return, the Oregonian said he had heard rumors about a potential coaching TUF coach slot opposite Michael Bisping, but had not had any contact with the UFC about it. Moving off the serious topics that have been the focus of his life over the last few months, Sonnen came to life when asked about what might be in his fighting future.
"I called them up and said, 'Give me the worst guy you've got under contract,'" he said. "They said, 'Chael, Wanderlei [Silva] won't fight you.' I said, 'Alright. Give me the second worst guy you've got under contract?' They said, 'Chael, how many times do we have to tell you: [Mirko] Cro Cop's a heavyweight.' I said, 'Alright, is there anybody available? How about Bisping? Is his dance card open? And then they said that might be a possibility. So that's where we left off. But that's just not my focus. My focus is making things right with director Kizer."
Last week, Sonnen put his legal case behind him
, accepting a penalty of two years' probation, a $10,000 fine and the revocation of his realtor's license in a federal money laundering charge. Without elaborating on the case, Sonnen called the transaction issues that led to the charge a "quirk" in real estate law and said he didn't make a dime in the alleged fraud, but that he would live with the penalty.
"I was a real estate professional. I had a license. That means whether I knew or didn't know, I should've known," he said. "Listen, this is what men do. We take responsibility for our irresponsibilities, and that's what I did."