Chael Sonnen: “This is the life. This is what gangsters do.’

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Asked about the creation of his heel persona, Sonnen explained how he learned to embrace the role in 2011 when he plead guilty to federal money laundering charges while also testing positive for elevated testosterone levels following his UFC 117 loss to Anderson Silva.

“I got hit with a PED charge and a criminal charge in the same month,” said Sonnen. “The whole ‘silly me’ defense is a pretty good one. When you go, ‘Listen, I didn’t know. I didn’t know the rules.’ That works. That’s a good, solid defense. One time. I needed it twice in the same month. So I just knew I was beat. As far as a PR standpoint goes, this is a disaster. Anybody in politics will tell you that when there’s a problem you steer into it, so I came out of that mess and I just came out and said, ‘Yea, I’m a gangster. This is the life. This is what gangsters do.’

“Before I knew it they were making t-shirts that said ‘American Gangster’ on it. It became the No. 2 selling t-shirt of all time for Tapout. People just started going into it. I just kept going with it, too. ‘This is nothing. These are just the things I was caught for. You should hear what I got away with.’ I started going really hard into it. Yea, it was a lot of fun and it did turn it around.”

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