Who is Chael Sonnen?

Chael Sonnen – The Early Years

Chael Patrick Sonnen was born in West Linn, Oregon on April 3, 1977. He attended the University of Oregon. While there he participated as a NCAA Division I collegiate wrestler, and was an All-American two-time national champion in Greco Roman wrestling. He also held a spot as an alternative for United States Olympic team.

Beginning His Professional Career

At the age of 24, in 2002, Chael Sonnen started his career in the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) with a rousing victory, by unanimous decision, against (later to be ICON middleweight champion) Jason “Mayhem” Miller at HFP 1 (Hitman Fighting Productions).

He would go on to win his first five fights at 5-0 until being defeated by Trevor Prangley by submission. Four years later he would avenge that defeat taking his victory from Prangley at the UFC Ultimate Fight Night 4. His overall wins of his first 20 MMA fights went 13-6-1.

His Career With WEC

Chael Sonnen only fought 4 fights in the WEC, winning three out of four times. He had an historic split in his two bouts with Paulo Filho. In WEC 31, his first fight with Filho, Chael was in top position throughout the match until getting caught in an arm bar, causing him to lose the fight. In his second fight rematch with Paulo, Sonnen won by decision. But because Filho did not make his weight before the fight, Sonnen was left empty-handed and not given the well-deserved WEC middleweight title. It was Filho’s first loss of his career.

His Stylized Fighting Skills

Though Chael Sonnen has strong striking abilities he maintains control over his opponents through his wrestling skills. When he has full command of a fight it is usually because he can take down his opponent, and control the situation through wrestling holds, by striking them while they are on the canvas.

Most of his wins are usually by unanimous decision. His greatest advantage is that he always trains to wrestle, as versus using other martial arts, making that his strong skill for the event. In addition he is always in optimal top condition for every fight, which allows him the strength he needs to endure the entire fight.

Chael Sonnen has to prepare to be in top condition because he usually doesn’t fight his opponents into submission, or use a submission defense. This winning strategy is viewed by some to be a weak point in his fighting style. Always fighting for a decision takes every bit of fighting energy that he and his opponent have.

While this fighting style can work to his benefit if he doesn’t make a fatal mistake during every round, it has allowed him to get caught in submission several times including his first attempt at the UFC middleweight title against Anderson Silva at UFC 117 on August 7, 2010 in Oakland California.


Now fighting for the UFC, Chael Sonnen trains out of Portland Oregon with Team Quest.

Marked MMA Victories

In his first professional fight ever for MMA, Chael Sonnen defeated Jason “Mayhem” Miller at Hitman Fighting Productions (HFP 1) by unanimous decision. Miller would later go on to be an ICON Sport Champion.

At UFC 109 by unanimous decision, Nate Marquardt is defeated by Sonnen. Chael maintained command of the fight by using his wrestling skills through endurance and use of his known “ground and pound” style of defeat. He controlled the fight by getting Marquardt to the canvas and holding him there while he worked him over.

In WEC 36, Chael defeated Paulo Filho through unanimous decision. This was Sonnen’s first attempt to win the WEC middleweight title, and though he won the event, Filho didn’t make his weight before the fight, thereby stripping Sonnen of his win of the WEC title.

Most Disappointing Recent Defeat – UFC 117

At UFC 117 event, Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva, held in Oakland California on Saturday, August 7, 2010, Sonnen was defeated by Silva in the second half of the fifth round through submission with a triangle arm bar. For the first twenty-three minutes of the event Sonnen was in total command over Silva. At times Silva staggered while being worked over by Sonnen.

According to all the judges scorecards, Chael Sonnen had won every round leading into the fifth. Halfway through the fifth, after Sonnen had thrown numerous “lazy” body shots, Silva took full advantage of one of the few mistakes Sonnen made. Silva caught Chael in a sudden triangle choke off his back.

Chael Sonnen then made a move to defend himself by attempting to fall backwards and use his legs in a move to take back control. His move was completely ineffective and within a few moments Sonnen reached up and touched Silva on the leg. Seeing the signal, the ref then jumped in and called the fight for Silva.

Through Sonnen’s disbelief, in an interview after the fight, he stated he was ready for rematch with Silva and didn’t require time to heal. Dana White, president of UFC, has stated that he has made no decision as of yet regarding when Sonnen will have a rematch with Silva.

It was suggested that Viktor Belfort would get a chance at the title first because he was originally scheduled to fight Silva before being injured in training. Sonnen then stepped in to take Belfort’s place. Though rumor has it Sonnen will have a rematch with Silva sometime by the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011.

Interest And Work Outside Of The MMA

Sonnen currently works as a real estate agent in Portland Oregon. Up until June 16, 2010 Chael Sonnen was running as a Republican for Oregon’s House State Representative in District 37 until he decided to drop out of the race.

He’s publicly stated his decision to quit was based solely on a real estate issue concerning something in 2006 which he was not at liberty to discuss but that would probably have to be decided in court.

He also stated that because the situation will might be adverse, he would not be eligible to run for office until 2011.  Chael Sonnen then stated that he would continue to be active in politics and help find a suitable candidate for the office.