Now that UFC 159 is over and all the talking is done; it’s time to start looking forward to the next steps in all of the night’s participants. Longevity in mixed martial arts is a tough thing to accomplish, but Chael Sonnen has turned the last few years into a lesson on how fighters can add years to their career in the cage. However, Father Time is undefeated and Sonnen may be nearing his. So what is next for the “Gangster of West Linn?” Only he truly knows but the ideas are plentiful.
At 36 years of age, Chael should be considered in the twilight of his career. While he’s never mentioned the idea of retirement, very few fighters tend to continue on and stay successful at this point in their career. With 41 fights on his ledger dating back to 1997; Sonnen is one of the last fighters of the “Golden Age” of MMA who is still relevant in a sense.
If Sonnen was to continue competing, who should he be placed against for fans to actually show interest? The first name that may come up in most conversations is Wanderlei Silva. Another individual who is closing end on the end of a career; Silva versus Sonnen would have the potential to carry a show from Brazil. While both of these fighters aren’t considered contenders at either middleweight or light heavyweight, they have the name power to garner marquee placement as a co-main event to a fight card in Brazil. With Sonnen’s infamous status in the country and his ability to sell any type of fight; this bout could be a shoe in for both mainstream and hardcore fans.
Rich Franklin is another name that could serve as the good guy to Sonnen’s villain character. Chael has taken shots as the “math teacher from Ohio” in the past and could easily build off of those statements to create the manufactured animosity that MMA calls for today. As with Silva, Franklin’s a fighter who is past his prime but not thinking of retirement of any form. While far from a Pay per View type fight, Sonnen versus Franklin could easily be sold as part of a card on Fox or the coming Fox Sports 2.
Sonnen’s opportunities do not stop inside the Octagon. Fox has already given Chael ample face time as part of the studio show team that covers the UFC whenever it is featured on their platform. Since he likes to talk so much there isn’t a better job for the former three time title challenger. Still, some talk out lets have even suggested that Chael should move into the world of fake fighting and give professional wrestling a try. Many top MMA stars have taken part in the world of sports entertainment so Sonnen would simply follow suit to those that came before him.
No matter what he decides, it’s clear that Chael Sonnen is out of the title picture for and of the UFC’s belts. Now, one of the best talkers and sellers in the sport has to find a way to keep the cameras focused on his mug if he wants to find new ways to make money within MMA.