UFC Legacies: “The American Gangster” Chael Sonnen

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

We’ve seen a lot of great fighters in the UFC through the years. We’ve seen fighters who have made names for themselves throughout their careers, going down in history. They’re great to watch on the screen, and always leave us on the edge of our seats. Chael Sonnen, ‘The American Gangster’, is just one of those fighters.

Today, before you check out the UFC betting odds, join us in the chance to look back on the career of a UFC legend. Here’s what you need to know about The American Gangster himself. 

Starting On The Right Foot

Making his way into the fighting scene in 1997 Sonnen initially was known for his background in wrestling. He was willing and ready to fight, with a tenacity that would certainly shine through in the UFC.

Throughout the early days of his career, he fought a few big names like Forrest Griffin and Renato Sobral. He eventually made his way into World Extreme Cagefighting, battling for the WED Middleweight Title with Paulo Filho. The fight, unfortunately, could not go ahead at the time since Filho was not in the weight category at the time of the fight. 

A Winning Streak

Eventually, the WEC was acquired by the UFC, and it was time for Sonnen to truly show his potential. Unfortunately for him, he did not have the strongest debut in his loss against Demian Maia, but this loss was then followed by 3 impressive wins instead. This is how he eventually came face to face against his biggest rival.

An Exhilarating Rivalry

There have been many great rivalries in the world of the UFC, but none quite so exciting as the one between Sonnen and Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva. Fans would be itching to see the next match between the two. One match in particular that stands out to many fans is the highly anticipated fight at UFC 117. 

The fight finally began and it was like nothing fans had ever seen before. Sonnen fought with every fiber of his being, leading to his eventual victory over Silva for most of the evening. Unfortunately, the win was not something that Sonnen could gloat about since Silva rose from the ashes at the very last minute. It was a spectacular loss for Sonnen and one that stung both him and his fans.

It should come as no surprise that Sonnen demanded a rematch between the two. He used the loss as an opportunity to self-promote, and gained a following. Fans generally either loved the man or hated him, but one thing was for sure – he was not boring to watch. 

The American Gangster

Sonnen managed to adopt the nickname of The American Gangster – pretty fitting for him. People would say he came from ‘the mean streets of West Lynn, Oregon.’ He made this nickname part of his brand, using it as part of his promo before the big fight with Anderson Silva in UFC 148.

The Later Years

Sonnen hit a bit of a rocky patch after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but he managed to score some pretty big wins throughout the following years. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be long until Sonnen announced his retirement from the UFC thanks to the drug testing failures. 

He ended up joining Bellator MMA, fighting some pretty big names like Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, and more. 

Throughout his ten-year career, Sonnen made some pretty big strides in the world of fighting. He faced some of the greatest names out there, including Jon Jones, Fedor Emelianenko, and who can forget Anderson Silva? He managed to span three weight classes throughout his career

He never did manage to gain a world champion title like he wished to, but he certainly made his best efforts to get that title. He provided fans with oodles of entertainment and built a legacy for himself. He also knew when to quit. He eventually left the sport when he decided that his time had passed. He showed his more vulnerable side during an interview on ESPN where he said how he promised his father that he’d win a world title before he passed away. Even if he didn’t manage to achieve that, we’re pretty sure that his dad would have been proud of what he accomplished.


One of the greatest names in the UFC, The American Gangster made quite a name for himself. As the years go by we see more and more fighters making their way into the UFC, but can they live up to the legacy of Sonnen? Time will only tell. 


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