It took nearly two rounds of pure domination at the hands of former UFC champion Lyoto Machida for referee Todd Anderson to break up the fight between “The Dragon” and “The American Gangster,” Chael Sonnen.
After absorbing a powerful kick to the head, and a flying knee that knocked him flat on his ass, Sonnen was unable to recover from a third strike to the head that came late in the second round. He took on about 12 seconds of continuous strikes before the bell finally rang in Machida’s favor.
Following the end of the fight, Sonnen used his time on the mic to thank Bellator CEO Scott Coker for letting him play out his five-fight contract, thank the sport for all of the memories he’s made and announce his retirement at 41.
“I had a hell of a lot of fun. I had a good run. I’m walking out. I appreciate the memories, and goodbye.”
The announcement brings an end to a 22-year career that has featured notable battles against fighters like Fedor Emelianenko, Jon Jones, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Forrest Griffin and, of course, Anderson Silva.
The blood feud between Sonnen and Silva caused the popularity of the Oregon-born fighter to skyrocket as he was able to externally portray an apathetic, almost sacrilegious attitude towards an opponent who had an untouchable aura of greatness at the time (some good old-fashioned bigotry helped too). Though he was never able to best Silva—despite dominating most of the first fight, Sonnen eventually fell into a triangle armbar that forced him to tap; he lost on a TKO the second time—it still produced one of the best callouts in the history of the sport.
When ESPN asked Sonnen after the fight about his decision to retire, he said he didn’t go into the fight with the intention of walking away from the sport, but had just felt he had “used up all my toughness.”
“I’m not as tough as I used to be,” Sonnen told ESPN. “I don’t want it as bad as I used to. I used to walk through stuff like this.”
One could argue that this announcement should be taken with a bit of salt since this is the second time that Sonnen has said he’s retiring from the sport. The first time came in 2014, where his announcement followed a controversy surrounding a failed drug test before a bout against Wanderlei Silva, and happened to coincide with the revelation of a second failed drug test by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Sonnen ends his career with a final record of 30-17-1, including a 2-3 run with Bellator. Other notable losses in his career include a failed run as a Republican candidate for the Oregon House of Representatives and a guilty plea on federal money laundering charges.