The World Series of Fighting on Tuesday hired ex-UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen as an analyst for its NBC Sports Network television broadcasts. He will debut in his new job on Sept. 18 for WSOF 23 from Phoenix, when Justin Gaethje defends his lightweight belt in a rematch against Luis Palomino.
Sonnen's broadcast career began while he was still an active fighter in the UFC, not long after the UFC began its deal with Fox in 2012. Sonnen was the host of UFC Tonight and became very popular for his in-studio work.
But Sonnen failed multiple drug tests prior to a planned fight last year in Las Vegas against Wanderlei Silva, and lied about it repeatedly. Both the UFC and Fox cut ties with him.
In November, ESPN hired Sonnen to serve as a part-time MMA analyst. He's done studio analysis on all of the big fights since the deal was done.
Sonnen praised the WSOF and the quality of its fighters in a statement.
“I am stoked to join the powerhouse team at World Series of Fighting, and call their fights that feature some of the best mixed martial artists on the planet,” Sonnen said. “World Series of Fighting has done an outstanding job of building their organization into a top-tier franchise in a very short span of time, and I am just proud to be a part of such a fast-growing company."
Sonnen, who has admitted all of his drug transgressions, also does a popular weekly podcast that is heavily though not exclusively MMA-focused called, "You're Welcome."
WSOF president "Sugar" Ray Sefo said he believes Sonnen will combine with play-by-play man Todd Harris to form a popular broadcast tandem.
“We are thrilled to have Chael Sonnen, one of the most colorful individuals in professional sports, join our production,” Sefo said. “We are confident Chael will enhance the fan viewing experience both for our growing national audience on NBCSN and across the globe by providing the insights he learned competing at the highest level of the sport.”
In addition to the rematch of Gaethje and Palomino, WSOF 23 will feature the promotion's first light heavyweight title match, a bout between David Branch and Teddy Holder.