Chael Sonnen Granted Therapeutic Use Exemption for UFC 148

Chael Sonnen (James Law/HeavyMMA)

Sonnen fights Anderson Silva for middleweight title on July 7

No worries – the Anderson SilvaChael Sonnen rematch might have been moved from Brazil to Las Vegas, but the fight will go on as planned.

Sonnen on Monday appeared before the Nevada Athletic Commission and was granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for doctor-prescribed testosterone treatments for his July 7 fight against Silva at UFC 148. That bout will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will serve as the main event, a highly anticipated rematch of the pair’s UFC 117 title fight, which Silva won with a late armbar-triangle after being dominated by Sonnen for four rounds.

The NSAC voted unanimously to grant the TUE with some conditions. The commission wants testosterone injections prohibited for a length of time prior to the actual fight, as much as seven days. And it wants Sonnen’s levels tested the morning after the fight, at his expense. Additionally, it wants to see copies of his license applications in Illinois and Texas, site of his last two fights – where he said he informed those commissions of his testosterone use.

Sonnen failed a drug test after UFC 117, which took place in California, and was suspended by the California State Athletic Commissions due to elevated testosterone levels.

Monday’s hearing was not without a few interesting moments, including Sonnen explaining why he didn’t indicate his testosterone use on pre-fight medical questionnaires for past fights in Las Vegas. He said his previous manager had assured him that a conversation took place with NSAC executive director Keith Kizer, and Kizer said he knew of Sonnen’s testosterone use – which the fighter said dates back to 2008 – and he didn’t need to disclose it. Kizer on Monday at the hearing said that conversation never took place. Sonnen acknowledged that he now knew the conversation never took place, but that at the time he was simply doing what he was instructed to do by his manager. (Sonnen now has different representation.)

Sonnen, which asked by the commission, said under oath he has never used anabolic steroids. One concern of opponents of TUEs for fighters is that having low testosterone levels to begin with may be the cause of previous steroid use.

Sonnen, though, still will need his testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels to fall within the NSAC’s acceptable limit of 6:1 or less. Other state commissions have a standard of 4:1, which is what is used in the Olympic Games. In March, following a pre-fight drug screening at a press conference in Las Vegas, expected UFC 146 headliner Alistair Overeem tested with levels at 14:1.