Chael Sonnen has outright admitted to taking PEDs.

Sonnen looked for a competitive advantage, and doing everything within his power that wasn’t outright illegal to get an edge on opponents. Stating that illegality was the “litmus test” for whether or not he would take a substance, he apparently took everything he could get his hands on, did his own testing to ensure he wasn’t caught with anything in his system, and fell short of apologizing, stating that when it comes to being sorry, “I’m not. I’m not going to apologize because I’m not sorry. I’m a consenting adult. I knew exactly what I was doing. This was a premeditated decision.”

This all came to light on Sonnen’s new podcast “You’re Welcome”—where he was interviewed by former UFC Tonight partner, Ariel Helwani. Sonnen was last seen as part of the announce team for Battlegrounds MMA: ONE, alongside Jim Ross. His positive drug tests with the NSAC, which earned him a two-year suspension from the sport, cost him his job with FOX Sports and the UFC.

The thing about Sonnen and PEDs is, they worked. There’s no question that for him, they worked—which is why he kept going back to them.

Sonnen went on to say that “If I go jump in my car and I back up and I hit my neighbor’s garbage cans, I’m sorry for that. This was a calculated decision. I made the decision and I’ll live with it. That’s it. I wouldn’t make any excuses about it.”

Well, that’s not quite an apology, but it’ll have to do. Sorry, not sorry. Love, Chael.

That’s all well and fine, but the real lesson to be learned from the final months of Chael Sonnen’s career is that what worked for the best talker in the business no doubt works for others—which is why they turn to them. It’s an illuminating look into the mind of a drug cheat, and one that, despite his flaws, remains a likable if damaged character in the MMA world. Sonnen won’t, and shouldn’t, fight again, but whether we admit it or not, many of us would miss him if he were to completely walk away from the sport outside the octagon.

The first area we learn something: to Sonnen, it didn’t matter that substances were banned if they weren’t illegal. That seems like a great way for a fighter to lie to themselves. “Well, it’s not really that bad, it’s not outlawed.”

Second, the excuse of “it was a different time.” According to Sonnen, “I came from a little bit different of a time. This isn’t like the guys of now, this is back…when I grew up through the 80s I would go to the local health food store, your GNC, whatever it might be, and I take everything on the shelf with the hope something would work. Whether you’re talking protein, whether you’re talking creatine, whatever it might be, if there was a guy on the label and he was big and strong, I would beg my mom and dad to buy me that. I have tried everything over the years with the off chance something might work.”

The thing is, it’s not a different time.

It’s 2014, and this is still happening.

The guys of now, they’re seeing this, they’re seeing guys in the Hall-of-Fame like Stephan Bonnar try to pull fast ones and use PEDs. It’s not a legit excuse, not at all. And it’s become a case of monkey see, monkey do, monkey try to one-up the rest of the bunch.

Third, as mentioned – these things worked. To quote Sonnen, “I was taking things and they were making me feel a little bit better.” That makes sense. You rarely are going to take a substance that makes you feel worse.

When Vitor Belfort next steps inside the octagon, we all need to keep these words in mind: “Here’s the problem: it worked.”

Is Belfort still trying to game the system? Is he really clean, or will he stoop to performing his own drug tests, as Sonnen admitted to? Belfort has mentioned doing his own testing before. Has anyone really questioned him as to why that was necessary (it was back when he was on TRT, of course). What about other fighters? Cung Le is fighting a recent year-long suspension by the UFC, and while he has grounds for an appeal (the entire testing regimen seems to have been horribly mismanaged), admissions like Sonnen’s certainly don’t help his case.

We’re sorry you’re not sorry, Chael. Stick around, because you’re still entertaining. And Zuffa/UFC, take note: there’s a lot to be learned from Sonnen’s admissions, and if you think he’s the only one, or even just one of a few, you’re kidding yourselves.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.