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Chael Sonnen inks pro wrestling announcing deal

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Chael Sonnen has long since denied the obvious, that he was a big fan of pro wrestling. He used to go so far as to tell people that he didn't have cable growing up so never watched it, while at the same time, borrowing aspects from the likes of Scott Hall, The Grappler, Ric Flair and Superstar Billy Graham in his persona.

Sonnen's name has flirted around pro wrestling circles for years, but it wasn't until Wednesday when any deal was announced.

At a press conference at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Jeff and Karen Jarrett, who are starting up a promotion called Global Force Wrestling, introduced Sonnen as their "expert analyst," as a roster announcement.

The new promotion will tape its first shows on July 24 at The Orleans. The promotion has not announced a television distribution deal.

Sonnen was the biggest announcement made by the Jarretts. Jeff Jarrett, a longtime pro wrestler, is the son of Jerry Jarrett, one of the more noteworthy pro wrestling promoters in the 1970s and 80s. Jeff and Jerry Jarrett started TNA Wrestling together in 2002. After selling the majority stake to Dixie Carter and Panda Energy a few months after launch, Jarrett remained with the company until leaving in 2013 to start a new venture.

Sonnen, who is currently suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission after two drug test failures, and has said he is retired as a fighter, had previously claimed to be going to WrestleMania in Santa Clara, Calif., at the end of March to talk with World Wrestling Entertainment, the largest pro wrestling company in the world. WWE officials claimed there were no talks scheduled with Sonnen, who was at the event.

Sonnen will remain with ESPN as its analyst for major UFC events.   

It was known that Jarrett had been working on putting together a Jim Ross/Sonnen announcing team, which did one MMA show together. Ross had not yet agreed to terms.

When he was much younger, Sonnen even trained at the World Championship Wrestling Power Plant in Atlanta, one of the few survivors of a tryout camp meant to weed people out. At the time he was still a college wrestler at the University of Oregon, and opted to return to school and try pro wrestling after graduation. By that time, World Championship Wrestling has folded and he wound up in mixed martial arts.

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