The Chael Sonnen countdown clock is officially ticking.
The former UFC middleweight number one contender saw the suspension of his fight license upheld by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) yesterday (May 18, 2011) for fabricating testimony in a previous hearing earlier this year stemming from his failed drug test at UFC 117 -- not to mention his felony conviction in Oregon for money laundering.
According to a report from MMA Weekly, Sonnen’s suspension will remain in effect until his current fight license expires on June 29, 2011, but he will not be able to re-apply for a new license until May 18, 2012, exactly one year from his most recent hearing.
And there are no guarantees he gets back in.
The UFC can attempt to get him licensed in other states or even overseas in an effort to keep him inside the Octagon, but it's unlikely the promotion would be willing to risk its good graces with the CSAC or the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), where Executive Director Keith Kizer has already stated he intends on honoring that suspension after Sonnen used Kizer's name as part of his false testimony.
The most likely scenario is nothing happens for a year.
If Sonnen can somehow manage to keep himself out of trouble and tone down the trash talk, he might stand a chance at getting another shot at UFC stardom -- assuming he doesn't retire and the promotion still wants him. Testimony introduced at his hearing indicated UFC President Dana White was effectively finished with Sonnen if he wasn't re-licensed.
Time will tell.
He was originally tapped to coach The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 opposite fellow middleweight Michael Bisping until this latest incident, with the winner becoming the new division number one contender. Whether or not "The Count" still gets that opportunity remains to be seen.
Sonnen can re-apply in one year. What do you think of that timeline? Too much -- or not enough? And what chance do you think we'll have of ever seeing him inside the Octagon again?
For more on Sonnen's suspension click here.