Bloody Wraps January 4: Chael Sonnen and the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament

Chael Sonnen's reputation just keeps taking hits. Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC Adds Insult to Injury by Suspending Convicted Felon Chael Sonnen - As if it wasn't enough that Chael Sonnen pled guilty to felony federal money laundering charges and faces a fine and two years probation, the UFC has now "frozen" Sonnen's contract

This is the capper to an incredibly up and down 2010 for Sonnen. Jonathan Snowden laid out the whole narrative arc of triumph and tragedy this morning in The Long, Strange Journey of UFC Star Chael Sonnen and what a weird trip it's been.

For me personally it confirms a theory I've long held -- pathological liars are sociopaths and can't be trusted in any way shape or form. Sonnen's brazen lies while hyping his title fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 117 were amusing but fascinated me in a dark way. Sonnen's willingness to lie to Jim Rome on ESPN when it was obvious to anyone listening that he was caught in a lie reflected a kind of post-modern contempt for the truth seen in Sonnen's fellow Republican politicians Karl Rove and Tom DeLay or Democrat Rod Blagojevich. All politicians lie but brazenly lying when the proof you're lying is obvious is fairly rare even in politics.

It made for great schtick when it was limited to Sonnen denying having said offensive things while promoting a fight, but when he popped for an elevated testosterone ratios after the fight, things got serious.  

I was darkly amused at the general pro-Sonnen response to his antics at his hearing to appeal his suspension in front of the CSAC. Sonnen's ridiculous claims at that hearing really merit a book length rebuttal but S.C. Michaelson's reaction at the time is as close as we've got.

Now that Sonnen's dishonesty has been shown to have extended into the criminal realm during his real estate career things have gotten even more serious. I'm not surprised that Sonnen cut some corners to sell a house but that sort of shady shit is business as usual in the American real estate "industry". For the Department of Justice to claim in their press release on the case that Sonnen contributed to the epic collapse of our real estate market in 2007-2008 is as absurd as anything Sonnen ever said. Goldman Sachs continues to feast on taxpayer dollars but we're cracking down on small time hustlers in Oregon. 

It's good PR for the UFC to suspend Sonnen for a while, but the notion that the man should never fight again because he's a convicted felon is as offensive to me as Sonnen's lies.

We have a system in place for punishing people for wrong doing. It's called the criminal justice system. Once a person has served their sentence that's that. 

Moreover combat sports have a long and honorable tradition of giving felons a productive outlet in society. Boxing legends Sonny Liston and Archie Moore, among many others, learned to box in prisons and reformatories. And then there's Mike Tyson.

Sonnen should take a few months off but I'm more than happy to welcome him back to the UFC. Better to have him safely locked in a cage fighting than out trying to sell houses.

Strikeforce's Ambitious Heavyweight TournamentStrikeforce released the brackets for its long rumored heavyweight tournament today. Considering that the tournament includes seven men ranked in the top 25 of the USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings it's pretty dang epic. #3 Fedor Emelianenko will meet #10 Antonio Silva and #16 Andrei Arlovski will meet the unranked Sergei Kharitonov in February and while he's unranked now, only a couple of years ago, Kharitonov was a staple of top 10 lists. #4 Fabricio Werdum will meet #8 Alistair Overeem and #11 Josh Barnett will meet #12 Brett Rogers at a date to be announced later.

Obviously rankings are inherently subjective and invitations for criticism, but the fact remains that these are eight top heavyweights. 

The questions have to do with whether or not Strikeforce will be able to pull it off. But signing Fedor was the biggest obstacle. Presumably they've got their champ Overeem ready to return in the spring. The one I'm most worried about is Josh Barnett who needs to resolve his issues with the California State Athletic Commission before he can be licensed to fight. 

Unlike Sonnen who came to his hearing armed with absurd excuses, a poorly prepared doctor and a legal team, Barnett walked in stag to his last hearing and quickly walked out with an appointment to meet them again. 

With the UFC's heavyweight division suddenly ravaged by injuries to champ Cain Velasquez and contender Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson's legal troubles, not to mention Brock Lesnar getting exposed and now possibly holding out, Strikeforce has a big chance with this tournament to establish its champ as the undisputed best heavyweight in the world.

The odds are long but I'm glad they're taking chances. 

Quick Hits

- Duane Finley interviewed Gray Maynard and his striking coach Gil Martinez and got their thoughts on Maynard's UFC 125 draw with champ Frankie Edgar and the pending rematch. 

- Bloody Elbow staffers named the Submission of the Decade and somehow none of us named Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's arm bar win over Bob Sapp in one of the most watched bouts in MMA history. Maybe we'll do a top ten list to make up for it. 

Leland Roling wrote a love song to Hatsu Hioki that included full video of his bout with Marlon Sandro from Sengoku's Soul of Battle on December 30. That fight is a must see for any fan of top notch grappling. 

Bloody Elbow readers named Herb Dean Official of the Year. Congratulations Herb!

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