Few in the sport of MMA have fallen short in each of their four title fights. Unfortunately, however, Chael Sonnen did. Born in Oregon, the former professional mixed martial artist enjoyed a successful career across numerous organizations, including Bellator, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and World Extreme Cagefighting. In each promotion, the 43-year-old was on the cusp of gold, although he could never turn his dream into a reality. So, is Sonnen the best MMA fighter to have never been a world champion?
The Right Man at the Wrong Time?
In October 2005, Oregon-born Sonnen made his UFC debut. However, following two second-round submission defeats and one decision victory, the promotion released him. Two years later, after fighting his was through on BodogFIGHT cards, he signed with WEC, but lost a title fight against Paulo Filho after a controversial stoppage. Although many agreed with the decision, including UFC president, Dana White, this would prove to the first of several unsuccessful attempts to claim a championship belt.
Sonnen then bounced back by beating Bryan Baker by unanimous decision, before a rematch with Filho was scheduled for November 5th, 2008, Urijah Faber versus Mike Brown. Sadly for the 43-year-old, his Brazilian opponent twice missed weight, so the bout became a three-round non-title fight, as per a report at NBCWashington/news. Come to the final bell, the Oregon fighter won via decision, although there was no gold to show for his efforts.
In the UFC, his luck didn’t change. After dominating Anderson Silva throughout their highly-anticipated middleweight title fight at UFC 117, the Spider stopped the American Gangster with less than two minutes remaining of the final round with a triangle choke. In the bout, Sonnen landed 320 strikes to Silva’s 64 but walked away a beaten man. In the rematch, the six-foot-one competitor lost via a second-round TKO, before his light heavyweight title fight with Jon Jones less than one year later ended in a stoppage loss.
What Could Have Been in the WWE
Although Bones appeared to be dominating the fight, he suffered a toe injury while defending a takedown that could have altered the outcome. This proved to be another decisive factor that didn’t go in Sonnen’s favor. In terms of never winning gold, the 43-year-old’s misfortune is somewhat similar to Alexander Gustafsson, who has also never been a world champion, losing three title fights in the UFC.
In his pursuit of glory, Sonnen could have broadened his horizons and sought to explore combat options outside of MMA. As a wrestler, and with a gifted ability to sell fights on the microphone, the American Gangster had the potential to be a global crossover star had he switched to the WWE. In 2016, the 43-year-old declined a $5-million offer to compete in Andre the Giant’s Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32, according to a story from CBSSports/mma.
Had Sonnen taken the professional wrestling path, he could have been a star. Not only that, he could have been a world champion. Following the rise of digitalization, wrestling-themed concepts have gone from strength to strength, and the American Gangster could have helped the promotion reach a broader audience base. It’s a testament to the new-found popularity of wrestling-related developments that the WWE 2K series has been a popular video game franchise across modern-day consoles throughout the 21st century.
Aside from mainstream gaming, wrestling is also rising to prominence within the online casino industry. In a post BonusFinder/uk/ wrote, many of the best bonus-offering gambling sites offer usable sign-up bonuses for various titles within their extensive libraries. As per the guide, slot machines are the most-played digital gambling feature, and that’s provided the foundations for wrestling-related crossovers. For example, at 888casino, players can enjoy Lucha Rumble, a five-reel development centered around Mexican wrestling.
Sonnen’s Misfortune Borders on Unbelievable
The American Gangster may not be the best MMA fighter to never win a world championship, but he’s undoubtedly one of the unluckiest. Filho’s inability to make weight cost him in WEC, while Silva’s trickery derailed a near-perfect performance at UFC 117. Even though Sonnen never achieved his goal, he left fans with more memorable moments than many competitors who did clinch gold.