Bellator has announced the surprise signing of Chael Sonnen (28-14-1) to an exclusive multi-year, multi-fight contract.
By signing with the Scott Coker-led promotion, Sonnen effectively ends his retirement from professional mixed martial arts and he will now enter the 205-pound division championed by Liam McGeary, amongst others.
“I’m consistently blown away by the product and presentation that Bellator is bringing to the fans,” said Sonnen.
“I’m not nearly done competing and I’m coming after everyone, everywhere. I’m not sticking to one weight class either, I fight at ‘Gangster Weight’ and nobody is safe.”
Sonnen has spent a vast majority of his 43-fight career with the UFC, a run where he competed against names the likes of Jon Jones, Anderson Silva (2x), Rashad Evans, “Shogun” Rua, Demian Maia, Brian Stann, and current middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
In addition to his exploits inside the cage, the West Linn, Ore., native has mastered the art of being in front of the camera, doing major broadcasting work for both ESPN and Fox Sports.
“Chael is an incredible athlete that has competed at the very highest levels of the sport,” Bellator MMA President Scott Coker said.
“I know that he is going to continue to do just that here at Bellator. When we were in the process of signing him, Chael was adamant that he wants to compete in three divisions here. He already has unfinished business with Wanderlei Silva, but he also wants to fight guys like Tito Ortiz, Fedor Emelianenko and even Rory MacDonald at middleweight.”
While much has changed since the mixed martial arts world last saw
Sonnen last competed inside the Octagon in 2013 at UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks where he suffered a first round TKO loss to Rashad Evans.
His motivation for returning? Anger.
Speaking at last week’s Bellator press conference, Sonnen said as a fan of MMA, there was a lot to be unhappy about.
“You either want to fight or you don’t and one of my main motivations for coming back is pure anger,” he said.
“I sit back as a fan, I watch these guys quibble and squabble. I put this deal together with Coker over three phone calls. I didn’t negotiate. I didn’t ask for anything. I wanted an opportunity to fight, that was it. And he’ll tell you the same thing. It was as simple as that.”
Sonnen’s signing comes just weeks after Bellator signed Rory MacDonald to an exclusive, multi-year, multi-fight contract.
The former No. 1 contender to the UFC welterweight crown is undoubtedly one of the premiere free agent signings in the history of the promotion.
At just 27-years-old, MacDonald joined with an impressive professional record of 18-4 and enters a stacked welterweight division of fighters already signed with Bellator, that currently has a world-class champion in Andrey Koreshkov.
Bellator 161 will broadcast first and exclusively on KIX on Monday 19 September at 10pm in Hong Kong, Singapore and Philippines and 9pm in Jakarta and Bangkok.