Chael Sonnen's attempts at humor often cross certain lines of accepted behavior and decency. Recently he left the line somewhere far behind him when he made a joke about Rihanna's issues with domestic violence at the hands of Chris Brown while working in an analyst role on Fox Sports Live ahead of the Floyd Mayweather/Canelo Alvarez bout.
Fox issued a statement apologizing for the remarks and now UFC president Dana White has jumped on Chael. White said during the the UFC 165 press conference that Sonnen needs to stop with the jokes.
"First of all, the joke wasn't that funny," White said. "He's not a comedian, and you can't make fun of domestic violence or any other thing. He's a sports commentator, and he's got to knock that s--t off. He's got to stop. He's got to stop, or it's not going to be good.
"Chael needs to stop the comedy and do what he's on that show to do. He's great at it. He's super talented. Leave the jokes to the comedians."
Chael's shtick doesn't do much for me. It's either unfunny jokes -- often offensive -- or simply near word-for-word reciting of old pro-wrestling promos. But the UFC knows that Chael does what Chael does and that has been good for their bottom line. There's clearly more people who enjoy it than people like me.
I doubt anyone was shocked that a guy who relies on the kind of stuff Chael does eventually took it too far on the wrong platform, but his spot on Fox Sports Live is likely safe. Especially with the fairly awful ratings the show has done. Though, Chael also drew a little attention for taking a shot at ESPN:
"I drink it cold and stale, like the ratings at ESPN." - Chael Sonnen on Fox Sports Live, not exactly being correct or anything.— Steve Lepore (@stevelepore) September 17, 2013
Awful Announcing recently talked Fox Sports 1's first month and the failure to live up to the hype, though the live UFC programming has been a success:
FS1 is much closer to NBCSN than they are ESPN.
It may be a cold dose of reality for FS1, but it's the truth. In spite of all of the hype, all the attention, all the speculation about challenging ESPN, and all the smack talk from Los Angeles to Bristol, Fox Sports 1 starts at the very bottom of the mountain in their quest to topple the self-proclaimed worldwide leader. Again via Son of the Bronx, the early ratings for FS1 are telling.
From August 26th - September 1st, the last full week with data available for NBCSN's Premier League coverage, the networks were quite comparable. NBCSN had 28 telecasts with greater than 100k viewers. FS1 had 36. NBCSN's Top 10 programs were all either EPL soccer or IndyCar racing. FS1's Top 10 programs were all college football, UFC, and NASCAR live events. Studio programs for the two nets draw similar audiences without lead-in programming - 11 PM ET episodes of Fox Sports Live have dropped to as low as 41,000 viewers, which is in the range of NBCSN shows like The Crossover, Sports Dash, and Pro Football Talk without live sports buffers.
If anything, Fox needs to lower expectations surrounding the immediate impact of Fox Sports 1's launch. Their ambition is admirable, but challenging ESPN from the outset and going head to head at this point is like trying to take down Godzilla with a potato gun. It looks silly when your network talks such a big game and is routinely outdrawn by a 3:45 AM airing of College Football Scoreboard on ESPNU.