Chael Sonnen's steroid suspension is over -- but can he return to the UFC?

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Not yet.

Despite his letter to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva requesting a fight against "Michael Spitsbing," former middleweight number one contender Chael Sonnen still has a couple of steps to take before he's cleared to return to action.

The trash-talking ex-Realtor has fulfilled the terms of his six-month steroids suspension effective today (March 3, 2011) according to the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC).

But he must return to the CSAC and re-apply for his license if he expects to compete again in "The Golden State."

From commission executive officer George Dodd, courtesy of MMA Fighting:

"If Mr. Sonnen wants to be licensed here in California, he will have to appear before the commission to regain his license. Every other state will have to make a determination on their process for licensing [him]."

Sonnen was originally slapped with a one-year suspension plus a $2,500 fine after his pre-fight drug test from UFC 117, obtained from a urine sample that was processed through the UCLA Olympic drug-testing lab, returned a positive result for steroids on both his first and second samples.

The CSAC later reduced that term to six months by a vote of 3-1 but upheld the original monetary fine.

The crux of Sonnen's defense was his Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), which is not uncommon for athletes his age and with his competitive background; however, the mouthy money launderer failed to follow the proper protocol for clearing his TRT therapy prior to the event.

The suspension cost Sonnen his rematch with UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, who went on to defeat his replacement, Vitor Belfort, at UFC 126 back on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas.

And even without competing, he still found a way to get beat up.

Sonnen recently plead guilty to a single count of money laundering in U.S. District Court and will face a recommended sentence of two years' probation on March 28. Sonnen has also agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and give up his Realtor's license.

That is all ... for now.

Are you ready to welcome him back to the UFC line-up with open arms? And what about that "Spitsbing" match-up?

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