Former two division UFC champion Conor McGregor recently baffled the MMA world by announcing his retirement from professional MMA competition.
Chael Sonnen believes that the only reason McGregor retired was so that the UFC’s image wouldn’t be tarnished by the sexual assault charges levied against the fighter.
“I would not think that retiring, excluding yourself, taking yourself out of something very positive, very loved, very coveted as a means of strategy while having to deal with something so tremendous, would be wise,” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel (via Milan Ordonez of Bloody Elbow). “I would think at a time like this you would keep as many friends and as many doors, and as many things open as you could. The other side of that coin is that could easily tarnish the other entity. You may to come to somebody, or you have somebody come to you and go ‘Look, this is not going to be good branding, this is not going to be good timing. This is going to be a jam of the highest of levels, it is best if you step away.’”
McGregor has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in late 2018 and the investigation is still on going.
Sonnen even suggests that it may have been an outside influence that helped McGregor decide to separate himself from the UFC.
“Maybe Conor in the spirit of sportsmanship (went) ‘Hey, you guys did a lot for me, I’mma get the hell out of your way for a little bit while I deal with this’ or maybe somebody else came to him and said ‘Hey, separate yourself and do it now,” Sonnen said. “The shoe’s gonna drop, that’s your problem…’ Something more along these lines.”
The former two division champion last competed at UFC 229, suffering a fourth round submission loss to UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.