Chael Sonnen, the loquacious mixed martial artist who came with a few seconds of beating Anderson Silva in August, had his drug suspension reduced from one year to six months by the California State Athletic Commission on Thursday.
Sonnen had tested positive for elevated testosterone levels prior to his title shot at UFC 117. He was suspended for one year by the CSAC in September.
Prior to being labeled "a drug cheat" in the aftermath of this, Sonnen was considered a top-tier middleweight and a tremendous (and honest) trash-talker. He pounded Silva repeatedly for four-plus rounds and the had the 50-45 unanimous decision in his hands. Until he got his arm caught in Silva's hands, and the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt forced Sonnen, a two-time All-American wrestler, to tap.
As for the positive test, Sonnen said he thought he filed all the proper paperwork and spoke to all the right people. At his hearing Thursday, Sonnen and his doctors put forth the information that he suffers from hypogonadism, a condition where the body does not produce sufficient amounts of the hormone testosterone. (MMAFighting.com's Mike Chiappetta has a very thorough account of the hearing here.)
Sonnen will be able to fight again in California beginning March 17, 2011. He was never disciplined by the UFC, and president Dana White had said that he sees no reason to punish Sonnen beyond the CSAC suspension and $2,500 fine. Given that CSAC reduced Sonnen's suspension, it's unlikely the UFC will do anything beyond that ... except schedule his next fight.
Silva is slated to defend his title against Vitor Belfort in February at UFC 126, although no official announcement has come from the UFC yet. Yushin Okami defeated Nate Marquardt at UFC 122 last month for the No. 1 contender spot. The question now is whether or not Okami and Sonnen have a rematch first.