Fighters Only Magazine recently broke the news that UFC is very close to signing Chael Sonnen vs. Lyoto Machida for UFC 136 on October 8th in Houston, Texas. Well it had to be in Texas, as Texas is likely the only athletic commission that will sanction Sonnen while he is still unlicensed by the California State Athletic Commission and still has problems with Keith Kizer, the Nevada State Athletic Commission's Executive Director. They could book the fight in an overseas country without an athletic commission, but that would make the promotion look even worse, so they had only one option.
Eric Gargiulo at his Camel Clutch blog did a fine job of dissecting how this decision exposes Dana White to the charge of hypocrisy given his past statements about how they don't commission shop:
The UFC will also be doing something here that Dana White said wouldn't happen. This fight is being targeted for Texas at UFC 136. Texas for those of you don't know is a joke when it comes to its state athletic commission.
"We don't do that," White said of the possibility of commission shopping. "He's going to have to pay his dues and straighten his stuff out with (the CSAC), even though I think what's happened to him is wrong."
"We will honor it. We won't let him fight anywhere," White said. "We'll honor that suspension until it's cleared up. (The CSAC would) regulate me - they're my boss too. You show me a guy who fought the government and won. Show me that guy. I want to meet him. I don't want to be the guy to try. I do what I'm told."
Booking Chael in Texas without Sonnen getting re-licensed in California and Nevada is tantamount to commission shopping if you ask me.
Moreover, it also exposes White to the charge of further hypocrisy on the issue of fighters taking testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Now we know that while White was so disgusted with Nate Marquardt's licensing issues with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission due to concerns with his TRT that he fired him on the spot and proclaimed that he would never fight for the UFC again, he was considering booking Sonnen before his licensing issues with California had been cleared up. I suppose when you're an established money drawing star that can cut a mean, albeit often borderline racist and xenophobic, promo you earn the right to get more than three strikes before you're out.
As Jamie Penick of MMA Torch points out the key question here is whether the Texas State Athletic Commission will sanction Chael Sonnen's TRT at UFC 136, which he has claimed on numerous occasions is necessary for his survival:
However, Sonnen still has the little matter of his "need" for testosterone replacement therapy. After what happened with Nate Marquardt, he's going to need to get approval for his testosterone usage, and that may not be an easy prospect. Of course, if his claim that he absolutely needed testosterone to live his life was a false one, as others he made to the CSAC turned out to be, then the move to light heavyweight may be in part due to getting off the treatment to not deal with the TRT issue.
On the flip side, Sonnen may have packed on so much muscle mass thanks to his TRT over the last year that he can no longer make the cut to middleweight and was forced to move up a weight class. If the TRT issue does indeed come up, then I don't share Penick's opinion that it will be difficult for Sonnen to get approval for it from the Texas commission. As Eric Garguilo stated, Texas is a joke of an athletic commission, as illustrated by a series of recent scandals that have happened on their watch:
- Turning a blind eye to King Mo and KJ Noons using illegal oxygen cans at the Strikeforce show in Houston on August 21st, 2010.
- Dangerously bad refereeing in Noons' fight with Jorge Gurgel on that show.
- Failing to drug test any of the fighters on that show after Strikeforce didn't request them to do so, highlighting their policy of only doing drug testing when asked.
- Brushing these serious issues under the table when the MMA media complained about them.
- Licensing both Antonio Margarito and Josh Barnett despite their licensing issues with the California State Athletic Commission.