Earlier this summer, we saw a notorious mixed martial artist leave the UFC under less than perfect conditions. On a fateful May 24th, one day after failing a Nevada Athletic Commission drug test, the always controversial Chael Sonnen announced he would not be returning to the UFC.
The former University of Oregon wrestler had been slated to fight Wanderlei Silva on July 5th, and retired with a noteworthy mixed martial arts record of 28 wins and 14 losses. Chael Sonnen remains forever one of the most exciting light heavyweights the UFC ever saw.
If you’re a big fan of his—or a grappling fan for that matter you already know that Sonnen is far from done competing. He’s currently gearing up to go back to his bread-and-butter, to his roots—to his martial arts essence. Showcasing his speed, strength and balance at Metamoris, a grappling competition held in Los Angeles by the young jiu jitsu advocate Ralek Gracie, Sonnen will face Brazilian jiu jitsu specialist Andre Galvão—truly one of the best ever—in a match-up fight fans should not miss.
The 31-year old Brazilian representing his team, Atos Jiu Jitsu, has been a force in competitive grappling for years, and will present Chael with the most challenging ground game he’s ever faced. Never in the UFC did Sonnen have ground opposition like this.
Galvão, who mentions that he feels like wrestling is the “anti jiu jitsu” feels confident he will be able to handle all the strong takedowns and top game that Chael Sonnen can muster. That’s what jiu jitsu players do after all.
If you won't watch the whole video, let us just tell you—Chael looks good in training.
Obviously, Sonnen doesn’t think he will lose—does he ever—but he does recognize the challenge of facing such a pure ground fighter.
"When I got to college, I wrestled for a head coach, a gentleman named Mark Schultz. Mark Schultz is one of the baddest men to ever walk this earth. He's a three-time world champion, Olympic gold medalist and he fought Rickson Gracie in a street fight for 44 minutes. He lost, and he told me that nothing beats wrestling, except jiu jitsu.”
It’s a shocking statement coming from someone we know to be a master of shit-talk, but it’s also very telling. Has Chael Sonnen gotten soft? We don’t think so. It’s not that he’s defeated, or lessened by the misfortunes tainting his past few months. What’s really happening here—it seems—in his return to his grappling roots, he wants us to know that he is not only serious, but that this is really what he’s about. It’s almost as though the UFC was a detour for the All-American wrestler. Now he’s getting back to what is really the fuel revving the Sonnen engine block.
“Competing isn’t all that fun…” Chael says in the Metamoris promo video that dropped yesterday. “It’s just the life that I know. The part that’s kept me in the sport so long is the enjoyment of the entertainment aspect. I think that’s what’s allowed me to have fun and stay motivated for all these years.”
The drug test results, the firing from his position at Fox, retiring from the UFC—these are just moments, just missteps in Sonnen’s career, a career that is far from over. Metamoris is the first step forward.
“That moment that Referee says go, I will.”
Check out these related stories:
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.