Former UFC Fighter Chael Sonnen Suspended From ESPN After Being Charged With Battery For Wild Vegas Brawl

Sonnen allegedly punched a man, then punched and kicked a second man, punched a third man in the face, punched and kneed a fourth man and struck a fifth man with his elbow.

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(Getty Images)

Retired UFC fighter-turned-MMA commentator Chael Sonnen has been suspended by ESPN after being charged with 11 counts of battery, including a felony classified as “battery by strangulation,” stemming from a Dec. 18 brawl in Las Vegas, according to court records.

Sonnen currently works as an MMA analyst for ESPN. “Chael will not appear on ESPN as we explore the details of these serious charges,” the sports media company said in a statement, per ESPN.com.

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The criminal complaint filed against Sonnen and obtained by ESPN says six people were attacked, including a man he is accused of strangling. The complaint states that Sonnen allegedly used “force of violence upon” a woman “by punching/striking” and pushing her.

Sonnen, according to the complaint, allegedly punched the first man, punching and kicking a second man, punching a third man in the face, punching and kneeing a fourth man and striking a fifth man with his elbow.

Sonnen, 44, is a former multiple-time UFC title challenger, perhaps best known for his rivalry with longtime former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, considered by many to be one of the UFC’s best fighters ever.

The brash and charismatic 185-pound contender Sonnen was a popular foil to Silva and some of the biggest UFC stars of his era.

The former wrestling All-American at the University of Oregon was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for several performance-enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone (HGH) and erythropoietin (EPO). It was his third positive drug test in MMA.

Sonnen never returned to the UFC after the suspension, signing with Bellator. He retired from MMA competition in 2019 and has worked for multiple promotions and media outlets as an analyst.

Sonnen first received five battery citations in the case–stemming from a brawl at the Luxor Hotel and Casino–but those were dismissed in January without prejudice, which means the charges can be refiled.

A new criminal complaint was filed by the Clark County district attorney with the Las Vegas Justice Court on March 16, according to court records viewed by ESPN.com. His first court appearance is scheduled for April 27.

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