Yesterday, there was a little bit of confusion as to how long Chael Sonnen is actually banned from fighting in California and thus all other American commissions. In my postmortem post on the situation yesterday, I went with the MMAJunkie report that he would be gone until at least a year from the expiration of his license. His license expires on June 29th of this year, so he would be out under that scenario until at least June 29, 2012. ESPN's Josh Gross later refuted that on his Twitter account:
Some sites are reporting Sonnen is ineligible to reapply in Calif. until June 2012. That is to-be-determined. CSAC will know Thurs. morning.
RT @lorettahuntmma Dodd needs a legal opinion if indefinite suspension treated same as revocation, and Anita Scurry wasn't around today.
A few hours ago, he chimed in with the big update:
Just confirmed w/ CSAC exec. officer George Dodd: Chael Sonnen's suspension remains until they lift it; he cannot reapply until 5/18/2012.
What this means is that Sonnen is absolutely shelved for a year in California and states that respect their suspensions, but could be forever. He can try to reapply for a California license in a year, but that's all he's doing, applying for it. The CSAC can refuse to license him and lift the suspension, effectively ending his career as a major fighter. If UFC wanted to use him, they'd have to effectively commission shop by only booking him in places that don't respect/mirror/whatever suspensions in the Association of Boxing Commissions database, I.E. Native American land (Mohegan Sun being a major arena they've run events at before that falls under that category), overseas, states with less ethical commissions, etc. Would UFC really want to do that, though? It would be seen as a rogue move by the CSAC and the commissions that respect the suspension. Gross had this take on the matter:
Sonnen can apply in other states, and some would probably license him. But would UFC be willing to promote him like that? They haven't said.
This is different than Josh Barnett's deal in Calif. Barnett waited out his suspension. His license wasn't denied. He withdrew application.
@TomElliott1988 @GarethJButt @gabesoto1 @T_Roos UFC hasn't commented but I doubt they promote Sonnen outside U.S. Consequences for him/them.
As I mentioned yesterday, the CSAC is asking to be notified if Sonnen applies for a license in another state.
Some fans asked Gross about the CSAC's motivations and such:
@JoshGrossESPN Is it just me or does the Sonnen thing just seem personal? Everyone at CSAC needs to be fired. #bureaucrats
@FSUcriminoles My impression is they were embarrassed by how it went down in Dec. Sonnen didn't play by rules, and he misrepresented facts.
@JoshGrossESPN why is CSAC equating real estate case with his capacity to be licensed as a fighter when the crime has no relevance to mma?
@arcjay21 Part of a larger expectation re: actions by licensees of the state. He copped a felony plea.
@JoshGrossESPN yea but it seems like the actual offense of others have been worse w/ less punishment.2 stop a guy from earning seems extreme
@FSUcriminoles I'm not saying it's right. But I believe that's what motivated them.
@JoshGrossESPN I agree with punishment but don't blackball, also you can't tell me some shit he said wasn't funny in an absurd way
@Jeff_in_CT Words mean something. He was inconsistent with his (at best).
Looking for an example of what this means for Sonnen and other commissions? Check out the Antonio Margarito license revocation in Calif.
The short version of the Margarito story from Wikipedia:
Margarito fought Shane Mosley on January 24, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. He was battered and outclassed by Mosley and lost the fight and his WBA title by 9th round TKO.
Controversy erupted before the fight when Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson, observed that Margarito had a pasty white substance in his handwraps. One doctor described this material as plaster hidden in the wrapped hands of Margarito, leading to accusations that he may have been trying to cheat. At Richardson's insistence, California State Inspector Dean Lohuis called for Margarito's hands to be rewrapped. According to Judd Burstein, the attorney for Mosley, Margarito had wet pads in the wrapping. Mosley's doctor, Robert Olvera, likened the material to the type of plaster used to make casts. Burstein said he seized the pad removed from the wrapping and another pad found in Margarito's dressing room. Both were placed in a sealed box that was given to Lohuis for further study. The California Department of Justice laboratory later confirmed the substance to be similar in nature to plaster of Paris.
In late January, the California State Athletic Commission suspended Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, pending investigation. At the hearing, Margarito claimed he did not know what was in the wraps, while Capetillo admitted to making "a big mistake" by placing the wrong inserts into Margarito's hand wraps. The commission voted unanimously to revoke Margarito and Capetillo's licenses for at least one year. While it found Margarito did not know about the gloves, it took the line that as head of the team, he was responsible for Capetillo's actions. Since state boxing commissions generally honor suspensions imposed in other states, this action effectively banned Margarito from boxing in the United States.
In November 2009, it emerged that red stains on the hand wraps Margarito used in the Cotto fight were similar to the stains on the inserts seized before the Mosley fight. This has raised suspicions that Margarito's gloves were loaded for that fight, and possibly others as well.
Sonnen's infractions aren't as severe, but it doesn't speak well for his future if his punishment is effectively pretty similar. Throw in that the commissioners feel personally offended (whether or not you think it should be, it's a factor) by Sonnen after being conned by him, and you get the feeling he may be better off leaving UFC if possible to try to get as much money overseas as he can while he still has some name value left. On one hand, it would offend the CSAC and he would most likely never be relicensed. On the other hand, is the CSAC ever going to relicense him?