Sonnen comes clean on Armstrong accusation

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The, ahem, mystery has finally been solved. While it didn't take a crack team of investigators, the "guy with a Hispanic accent" turns out to have been UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen after all.

Last year, a couple of weeks before he fought Anderson Silva for the middleweight title at UFC 117 in Oakland, Calif., in the middle of an extraordinary trash-talking barrage while promoting the fight, Sonnen alleged that cycling champion Lance Armstrong "gave himself cancer" by taking drugs.

In an interview with Larry Pepe of Pro MMA Radio, Sonnen said, "Lance Armstrong did a number of things, and he gave himself cancer. He cheated, he did drugs, and he gave himself cancer. Well, instead of saying 'Hey listen, I cheated and gave myself cancer. Don't be like me,' he actually made himself the victim and then went out and profited something like $15 million from this 'Hey, poor me, let's find a cure for cancer' campaign instead of just coming clean and saying, 'Look, here's what I did, I screwed myself up, and I hope people learn from my mistakes.' "

A few days later, Sonnen appeared on Jim Rome's radio show. When asked about it, Sonnen denied it was him. When Rome said the voice on the clip from Pepe's show disparaging Armstrong sounded like Sonnen, Sonnen replied, "It sounds like a guy with a Hispanic accent."

[Rewind: Sonnen blames Armstrong's cancer on drugs]

Sonnen went on to dominate most of his fight with Silva only to get submitted in a late triangle choke. After the fight, he failed a post-fight urinalysis and was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission. With his suspension served, Sonnen has been reinstated into the UFC and will fight Brian Stann at UFC 136 on Oct. 8 in Houston.

Last week, Sonnen appeared at a UFC Fight Club question-and-answer session prior to the UFC 133 weigh-in and was asked by a fan whether or not it was him. Sonnen beamed as he answered.

"Of course it was me," Sonnen bellowed. "Come on, 'Was it me?' I'm a genius. That was the single greatest thing I've ever done. I'm so proud of that moment, and I'm disappointed that I've outed it, because there are actually people out there who don't think that was me."

Sonnen said he had been preparing to fight Silva in a building named after Armstrong on the Nike campus. He said he'd just watched Floyd Landis make comments ripping Armstrong on television the night before he made his comments.

He said Rome caught him off guard with his question and the clip cued up to play. Sonnen said he went into "this whole denial routine." That, though, caused some unexpected problems.

"The guys at Nike really think it's not me," Sonnen said. "So, they've got this high-tech sound equipment at Nike in something they call 'The Hive,' where they make their commercials that are aired throughout the whole world. It's like super high-tech and they're playing the tape of when I said Lance Armstrong, but I denied that I said it versus when I say something else that has the 'ah' of Armstrong. There was a different sound in the 'a.' So these major players at Nike start to get involved, and they want to crack this forensic code and clear my name."

So Sonnen did what anyone in that situation would do: He sent them a text message telling the truth.

"I said, 'Hey guys, you might want to back off on this,' because I got roughed up on this one and I'm going to have to take the bump," he said.

He did take the opportunity to push the fight with Stann, a former Marine captain and decorated war hero who has been on a major roll. Sonnen joked that he hoped Stann would run for president.

Unlike when he fought Silva, he had little bad to say about Stann.

"Look, I don't manufacture conflict and I'm not going to go out and create something with Brian Stann that isn't there," Sonnen said. "Brian Stann is a great guy. I wrote him in and voted for him for the President of the United States in 2008. I will write him in again in 2012 and when he becomes the legal age of 35 by 2016, per our constitution, I would hope that you all vote for Brian Stann. He is an outstanding human being.

"Look, this isn't 1984. This isn't Iron Sheik vs. Sergeant Slaughter. I'm not going to walk to the ring in curled-up boots looking for a camel clutch. I'm not the bad guy here. He's an American. I'm an American, too. He loves the USA. I love the USA, but on Oct. 8 in Houston, Texas, there's going to be a red, white and blue [butt]-whipping."

MMA musings
MMA musings

• Congratulations are in order for Matt Hamill, the one-time UFC light heavyweight contender who announced his retirement Monday after a loss on Saturday at UFC 133 to Alexander Gustafsson. Hamill is deaf and did much to boost the deaf community by competing successfully at the highest level in mixed martial arts. UFC president Dana White could do worse than to hire "The Hammer" as some sort of goodwill ambassador.

• Following the post-fight news conference Saturday, White suggested that he talked with recently retired NBA great Shaquille O'Neal about potentially working for the UFC. "Shaq's not fighting, you know what I mean?" White said. "Shaq wants to get involved in the business side of this thing. He's a guy who we have a lot of respect for, so we'll see what happens."

• A news conference with O'Neal and Sonnen involved would be epic.

• Vitor Belfort got a bit excited at the post-fight news conference at UFC 133 when he spoke about how great UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will be. Belfort said he expected MMA to surpass soccer in popularity in Brazil within three years, much to White's delight. The only problem is that not only is soccer far and away the most popular sport in the world, but also the World Cup is going to be held in Brazil in 2014.

• Tito Ortiz looked terrific in his fight against Evans, despite the second-round defeat. The UFC ought to consider matching him with Rich Franklin, another veteran looking to remain near the top of the rankings. That would be an entertaining fight and create a lot of fan interest.

• Bad news for fans of UFC Octagon girl Brittney Palmer: She's no longer going to be working as a ring-card girl. Though White said she still has a relationship with the company, he said she's committed to pursuing a career as an artist. He vehemently denied reports that she was fired by the company.

[Rewind: Palmer wants to be more than 'the hot chick']

Readers always write
Readers always write

Has the end come for 'Sexyama?'

After watching him get knocked out brutally by Vitor Belfort on Saturday at UFC 133, I can't help but wonder if Yoshihiro "Sexyama" Akiyama's time in the UFC is up, especially considering it's his third consecutive loss. Do you think Akiyama is going to get cut, or will he be retained until UFC's Japan show in 2012? And speaking of Belfort, has he put himself back in title contention with the victory? I can't see Yushin Okami beating Anderson Silva at UFC 134, and with Nate Marquadt probably not returning, Vitor seems relevant again for at least another title eliminator.

Tris Xavier
Singapore

Tris, I think Akiyama is done in the UFC unless he agrees to move to welterweight, a move he has resisted strongly in the past. He's one of the sport's most exciting fighters, and the UFC would love to find a way to keep him. White referred to him as "my Arturo Gatti," a nod to the late boxer who was always in great brawls. Clearly, though, Akiyama isn't big enough or strong enough to deal with the elite at middleweight and, unless he moves down, I think he'll be cut. As for Belfort, he's right near the top of the division in terms of talent, but he's going to have to string together a few wins over ranked opponents before he gets another sniff at the belt. He did nothing with his shot at UFC 126 when he was knocked out by Silva.

Golden Glory mess

What do you think of Dana White and Zuffa's strong-arm tactics in punishing the entire Golden Glory camp over the Alistair Overeem debacle?

Jerad
Columbia, S.C.

This is no strong-arm tactic at all. For those who missed it, Zuffa cut several Golden Glory fighters last week because its management keeps insisting it receive the fighters' paychecks, and Zuffa's policy is to pay the fighters directly. I side with Zuffa on this one, because then there is no doubt that the fighters are being paid. This eliminates one problem in the mix, and the fighter has the ability to sign over his or her purse to their manager after receiving it.

Any shot remaining to see Fedor in the UFC?

Do you think there is any chance the UFC brings back Fedor Emelianenko for one more fight for the show in Japan? Maybe they could match him up with Brock Lesnar. It would serve as a warm-up fight for Brock and help get Brock over with the Japanese crowd where Fedor, I assume, still draws.

Marko
Bakersfield, Calif.

No. No. No. No. No. No. There is a better chance of me kicking a 65-yard field goal in the Super Bowl than there is of Emelianenko ever fighting in the UFC. That train has left the station. The hot rumor about Lesnar is that he may return in December to fight Frank Mir at UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Quoteworthy
Quoteworthy

"Georges St. Pierre's stock raised greatly in my mind after that performance [at UFC 129 against Jake Shields] because I had first-hand knowledge of how tough and how prepared Jake was." – Sonnen, talking about UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and top contender Jake Shields.

Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
Thorny drug-testing problem for pro sports
NBA champ Mavs seek hefty men for dance troupe
NFL legend Jerry Rice rips Randy Moss