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Chael Sonnen's Struggle With the Truth Isn't Just His Problem -- It's Ours, Too

In his own special way, Chael Sonnen told us this was coming. We just wouldn't listen. Or maybe we listened too much, but didn't understand. All we could hear was a pre-fight schtick that was half pro wrestling heel and half insult comic.

And we loved it. We begged for more. We acted as if there were no consequences because that's how Sonnen acted. Maybe we wanted to believe it just as much as he did.

In case you haven't heard, the California State Athletic Commission has said it won't be giving Sonnen his license back any time soon. It seems that commission officials are none too pleased about being openly lied to during his appeal hearing in December. Those government types are funny that way sometimes.

The trouble started when Sonnen appealed his suspension for elevated testosterone levels following his title fight at UFC 117 by claiming that he needed the extra testosterone for a legitimate medical condition. He even brought a doctor in a really nice t-shirt to back up his story, and he claimed that he'd had a conversation about his use of testosterone with Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer.

Kizer, however, denied ever having any such conversation with Sonnen. When he confronted Sonnen on it, Sonnen offered an explanation for his comments that Kizer dubbed "ridiculous."

Basically, he lied to California about what he'd said to Nevada, then lied to Nevada about what he'd said to California. Since this all happened at right around the same time as his guilty plea on federal money laundering charges, Sonnen has started to seem like the kind of guy no reputable athletic commission wants to give a license to, and it's hard to blame them.

Then again, stretching the truth until it snaps in half is nothing new for Sonnen. It's just that it used to be a lot more fun for the rest of us to listen to. Remember when he went on a radio show and claimed that Lance Armstrong had given himself cancer with his own steroid use? Remember when he then went on Jim Rome's show that and claimed those comments were made by some guy with a "Hispanic accent" impersonating him?

He was lying to us then, and we knew it. What's more, he knew that we knew it. Maybe that's what made the whole thing seem almost harmless. It was so ridiculous that at least it felt like he wasn't seriously trying to get away with anything.

It's the same with the pre-fight smack talk he directed toward UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva and his camp. The stuff he wrote on Twitter (and yes, that was his Twitter, though he lied about that too) about Brazilians being a "piglet tribe of savages" and speaking a language that's one step up from pig Latin? That's some absurdly racist stuff. Only he didn't take too much heat for it, perhaps because it's even more absurd than it is racist.

But while fight fans might cut you some slack as long as you manage to be entertainingly offensive and dishonest, athletic commissions are another matter. When it comes to what substances were in your body when, and who you did and did not tell about it, they want serious answers rather than funny ones.

And, oh yeah, in case you wondering? They are actually going to check up on the accuracy of what you tell them. So that's something to consider.

But fans and media, we ate it up when Sonnen completely disconnected himself from reality ahead of UFC 117. We got caught up in the moment. Instead of ignoring his schtick, we practically begged him to turn up the volume. So he did, and we only encouraged him further.

Then the time came to tell the truth in a situation where the truth really mattered, and, well, by then Sonnen was out of practice. He'd gotten accustomed to a different type of cause and effect, and suddenly the behavior that had once earned him more air time now threatens to keep him out of the cage even longer.

And yes, that's Sonnen's fault. In the end, he's the one responsible for the words that come out of his mouth. But at the same time, we were content to go along for the ride when it seemed like harmless hype. We not only let him get away with it, we encouraged it.

Only now it's not so fun anymore. Now it keeps him from making a living as a fighter. Now we can't imagine what he must have been thinking. As if we had no role in helping him to think it to begin with.

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