A day after saying he would appeal the results of a positive drug test to the Nevada Athletic Commission, UFC veteran Chael Sonnen announced his retirement from the sport.
Sonnen, 37, finishes his career 28-14-1, including 7-7 in the UFC.
He is best known for a rivalry with longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Sonnen lost two title fights to Silva, including a 2010 bout in which Sonnen won the first four rounds before being submitted with less than two minutes remaining in the bout.
Sonnen, who also unsuccessfully challenged Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title in 2013, thanked Silva during his retirement announcement.
Sonnen fought with a therapeutic-use exemption for Testosterone Replacement Therapy for the last few years. The NAC banned the treatment in February and Sonnen failed a surprise drug test last month. He said the banned substances in his system were necessary for health and to help him and his wife conceive a child.
He announced Tuesday he would state his case to the commission next week, only to reverse course on Wednesday.
“I want to officially announce my retirement from competitive mixed martial arts,” he said during an appearance on UFC Tonight, a show he co-hosts on Fox Sports 1.
“I do want to admit fault,” Sonnen said. “I want to make sure I’m taking full responsibility. Yesterday, when I came out, I was mad and I went into defense mode. However, ultimately the rules are the rules. I understand that, and I’m a rules guy. I don’t want to break the rules. Ultimately, it comes down to the athlete to make sure he’s in compliance.”
In the end, Sonnen said he had to make a decision between his health and his career.
“I want to stay within the rules, and I don’t fully understand them,” Sonnen said. “I have to put my health first. I have to put my family first. If I know what I know now, and I know this is going to work and I’m going to be able to get my wife pregnant and look forward to having a family, I’m going to do the exact same thing 20 more times so it’s going to put me out of compliance 20 more times. Let’s just stop with that. Let me just remove myself.”
Sonnen had been scheduled to fight Vitor Belfort at UFC 175 at Mandalay Bay on July 5. He was removed from that bout after his failed drug test was announced Tuesday.