UFC Fight Night 26 main eventer Chael Sonnen has yet to be granted a fight license for the Aug. 17 event, which serves as prime time launch programming for the new Fox Sports 1 network.
Sonnen is slated to face Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a five-round lightweight bout to top the fight card.
The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission has, however, preliminarily agreed to allow Sonnen to fight.
The debate swirling around Sonnen stems from his testosterone replacement therapy regimen, and the MSAC’s lack of experience dealing with the issue.
“The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission has not issued a license to Chael Sonnen to participate in the August MMA event scheduled in Boston, but has preliminarily agreed to allow him to fight,” said Department of Public Safety spokesperson Terrel Harris. “Sonnen, however, would be required to undergo testing to determine his testosterone levels both before and after the contest.
“TUE (therapeutic use exemption) for testosterone is uncharted territory for the Commission which has sent the issue to its Medical Advisory Board to determine allowable ratios prior to the fight and issuing Mr. Sonnen a fight license.”
There is an athletic commission meeting on Thursday that will delve further into the topic, as well as a sidebar issue of an official complaint against Sonnen’s participation filed by Unite Here Local 226, better known as the Culinary Union.
Unite Here filed a complaint requesting that Sonnen be denied a license to fight “because Mr. Sonnen has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.”
The MSAC has the right to decline to license or suspend an issued license if an applicant or licensee “is arrested or convicted on a charge involving moral turpitude.”
The complaint cites Sonnen’s 2011 conviction of a federal money laundering charge related to mortgage fraud. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to two years of probation.
The Culinary Union and the UFC have been butting heads for years, primarily in New York, where the UFC continues to lobby for sanctioning of mixed martial arts. The Culinary Union continues to fight against the sport’s legalization in New York, and has been using the might of its political influence to wage the war.
Despite tremendous support from New York senators and assembly members, sanctioning of MMA on the professional level continues to stall out before coming to a vote on the Assembly floor, as it did this year.
The MSAC will address the UFC complaints in an executive session at Thursday’s meeting.