NEW YORK – "The American Gangster" is hanging up the gloves following Friday Night's Bellator 222 event at Madison Square Garden.
In a heartfelt, at times emotional, post-fight news conference, Chael Sonnen detailed his decision to walk away from the sport of mixed martial arts. Sonnen said the retirement was not predetermined before the fight but felt right given the way things were played out.
"Well, I did not have that planned," Sonnen said. "I thought I was going to win this fight and call out Ryan Bader. Everything was going to my way until it was not. But no, I do not regret it. It was a No. 1 contender's match, and I thought it was a great opportunity, and it was. It's someone else's turn. "
While his retirement was not decided before entering the cage, Sonnen came to realize once he stepped inside.
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"You've got to be tough in this sport," Sonnen said. "I feel like I used all of my toughness up. There were some positions in there that, before in my career, I would have walked right through them. I did not mind losing him in his spots – you know, some of the stuff on our feet and those jumping knees and whatnot. But I did not mind losing to him in my spots. He was on top of me, and I did not think he would be on top of me.
"I thought I could have scrambled. I thought I could have gotten up. I used to be tougher. I used to want it more. I used to have more grit, and I just felt like maybe I fired my last bullet. I did not have that same grit, and it's time to move on. "
Sonnen, 42, finishes out his Bellator MMA tenure with a 2-3 record, wins over Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson.
He finished his 22-year MMA career with a 30-17-1 record, contending for the UFC title on three different occasions
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