Chael Sonnen

Legendary mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen has a history of competing in the Pancrase, WEC, and UFC. In 1997, Sonnen got his start.
Chael Sonnen in a file photo [Image-Twitter]

Chael Patrick Sonnen was born on April 3, 1977. He is a submission grappling promoter, mixed martial arts (MMA) pundit, and retired MMA fighter from the United States. Sonnen began his MMA career in 1997 with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he rose through the ranks to become a top contender in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions, challenging for both the UFC Light Heavyweight and UFC Middleweight Championships.

Sonnen has also competed in World Extreme Cagefighting, Pancrase, and Bellator MMA. Sonnen is widely regarded as one of the finest MMA fighters never to have won a major MMA world championship, as well as one of the sport's greatest trash-talkers.

NameChael Patrick Sonnen
D.O.BApril 3, 1977
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight93 kg
OccupationAnalyst. Mixed Martial Artist
Professional Debut1997
WifeBrittany Smith
NicknamesNo Nicknames


Sonnen began wrestling at the age of nine in either Milwaukie, Oregon, or West Linn, Oregon. He went to West Linn High School and was a state runner-up. Sonnen began boxing training in 1996, with the goal of fighting in the UFC after graduating from high school. Sonnen attended Brigham Young University before moving to the University of Oregon in Eugene when BYU considered discontinuing its wrestling program.

Sonnen was a two-time PAC-10 runner-up, a silver medalist in the 2000 Greco-Roman World University Championships, and a two-time Dave Schultz Memorial International Greco-Roman champion at Oregon. He earned a Bachelor of Science in sociology from the University of Oregon in 2001.

Early Career

Chael Sonnen began his career as a wrestler at an early age and began boxing training in 1996. Since then, he has been aspiring to join the UFC as a competitive fighter as soon as he graduates. In addition to his accolades at the University of Oregon, Sonnen won All-American recognition and finished second twice in the Pac-10. At the age of 19, he began his professional MMA career in 1997. Before ultimately falling to Trevor Prangley, he won his first six fights.

UFC Career

In 2005, Chael Sonnen joined the UFC, where he competed in three bouts in two years. After two defeats, he eventually left the organization and joined BogdogFight before making a run for the WEC. He eventually made a comeback to the UFC in 2008, where he performed well. He overcame Michael Bisping, but he was never able to secure THE huge victory he sought. He left the business once more after suffering defeats to Anderson Silva, Demian Maia, Jon Jones, and Tito Ortiz.

Bellator MMA

Sonnen reportedly agreed to a multi-fight deal with Bellator MMA on September 15, 2016. On January 21, 2017, the main event of Bellator 170 featured Sonnen’s professional debut in a light heavyweight contest against former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and UFC Hall-of-Famer Tito Ortiz. In the opening round, he was submitted and lost the bout.

In the main event of Bellator NYC on June 24, 2017, he fought Wanderlei Silva in his second professional encounter. He prevailed by unanimous judgment in the match. On January 20, 2018, at Bellator 192, Sonnen competed against Quinton Jackson in the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament. He prevailed by unanimous decision.

At Bellator 208 on October 13, 2018, Sonnen went up against Fedor Emelianenko in the semifinals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix competition. He was defeated in the opening round by TKO. Bellator 222, the company’s return to Madison Square Garden, will take place on June 14, 2019, and it was revealed on April 4 that Sonnen will compete against Lyoto Machida there. He was defeated in the second round by TKO. In the post-fight interview, Sonnen declared his retirement from mixed martial arts.

Championshps and Accomplishments

Amateur wrestling

  • National Collegiate Athletic Association
    NCAA Division I All-American out of University of Oregon (1998)
    NCAA Division I 190 lb – 8th place out of University of Oregon (1998)
    Pac-10 Conference 197 lb – 2nd place out of University of Oregon (1999)
    Pac-10 Conference 197 lb – 2nd place out of University of Oregon (2001)
  • University National Greco-Roman Championships
    187.25 lb – 3rd place out of University of Oregon (1997)
    187.25 lb – 2nd place out of University of Oregon (1998)
    187.25 lb – 1st place out of University of Oregon (1999)
    187.25 lb – 1st place out of University of Oregon (2000)
    Awarded “Most Outstanding Wrestler” of the 2000 tournament
  • World University Greco-Roman Championships
    187.25 lb – 2nd place (2000)
    Senior National Greco-Roman Championships
    187.25 lb – 4th place (2000)
    185 lb – 4th place (2002)
    2000 US Greco-Roman Olympic Team Trials
    187.25 lb West Regional Champion
    187.25 lb – 3rd place
  • US Greco-Roman World Team Trials
    211.75 lb – 4th place (2002)
  • Dave Schultz Memorial International Greco-Roman
    187.25 lb – 1st place (2000)
    213.75 lb – 1st place (2001)
  • University National Freestyle Championships
    187.25 lb – 5th place out of University of Oregon (1998)
    187.25 lb – 3rd place out of University of Oregon (1999)
    187.25 lb – 2nd place out of University of Oregon (2000)
    Championship Belt Series Winner, University Level (2000)

Mixed martial arts

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    Fight of the Night (Two times) vs. Nate Marquardt and Anderson Silva
    Submission of the Night (One time) vs. Maurício Rua
  • Bellator MMA
    Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinalist
  • DangerZone
    DangerZone Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
    DangerZone Light Heavyweight Tournament Winner
    George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
    George Tragos Award (2016)
  • Gladiator Challenge
    Gladiator Challenge Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
  • Hitman Fighting Productions
    Hitman Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
  • World MMA Awards
    2010 Fight of the Year vs. Anderson Silva at UFC 117
    2013 Personality of the Year
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
    Best on Interviews (2010)

MMA Record

49 matches 31 wins 17 losses
By knockout 8 7
By submission 4 9
By decision 19 1
Draws 1