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Chael Sonnen explains decision to retire at Bellator 222: ‘I feel like I used all of my toughness up’

Chael Sonnen once again came up short in his pursuit of a world title last night (Fri., June 14, 2019) at Bellator 222 in New York City, when he was finished by former UFC champion Lyoto Machida via second-round TKO (HIGHLIGHTS HERE).

Sonnen was hoping to parlay a victory over “The Dragon” into a title shot against current Bellator light heavyweight king Ryan Bader. That obviously didn’t happen, which prompted Sonnen to lay his gloves down in the cage after the loss and announce his retirement from the sport he has called home for over 22 years.

Sonnen wasn’t planning on stepping away from MMA at Bellator 222, but his path to the title changed and he felt it was the right time to hang it up.

“No, I didn’t have that planned,” Sonnen said. “I thought I was going to win this fight and call out Ryan Bader. Everything was going my way until it wasn’t. But no, I don’t regret it. It was a No. 1 contender’s match, and I thought it was a big opportunity, and it was. It’s somebody else’s turn.”

Sonnen, 42, was coming off a disappointing TKO loss to Fedor Emelianenko back in October. The last time he lost back-to-back fights via knockout came in UFC over six years ago against legendary fighters Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. “American Gangster” may have pushed through some early pressure from Machida, including a blistering first-round flying knee, but ultimately couldn’t outlast the Brazilian and met his demise for the TKO loss.

“You’ve got to be tough in this sport,” Sonnen said. “I feel like I used all of my toughness up. There was some positions in there that, before in my career, I would have walked right through them. I did mind losing to him in his spots – you know, some of the stuff on our feet and those jumping knees and whatnot. But I did mind losing to him in my spots. He was on top of me, and I didn’t think he’d be on top of me.

“I thought I could have scrambled. I thought I could have gotten up. I used to be tougher. I used to want it more. I used to have more grit, and I just felt like maybe I fired my last bullet. I didn’t have that same grit, and it’s time to move on.”

For now, the MMA game will have to move on without “The Bag Guy” lurking the hallways. Sonnen will continue his role as part of Bellator’s broadcast team, but his days of talking trash and making opponent squirm on the microphone are over.

For complete Bellator 222 results and coverage click here.

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