Retired UFC fighter Chael Sonnen is being charged with 11 counts of battery, including a felony, stemming from a Dec. 18 incident in Las Vegas, according to court records. The felony is being classified as battery by strangulation.
Sonnen initially received five battery citations in the case, but those were dismissed in January without prejudice, which means the charges can be refiled. A new criminal complaint was filed by the Clark County district attorney with the Las Vegas Justice Court on March 16, according to court records.
Sonnen currently works as an MMA analyst for ESPN. “Chael will not appear on ESPN as we explore the details of these serious charges,” the company said in a statement.
Sonnen’s first court appearance is scheduled for April 27. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The criminal complaint filed against Sonnen and obtained by ESPN says six people were attacked, including a man he is accused of strangling. The complaint states that Sonnen allegedly used “force of violence upon” a woman “by punching/striking” and pushing her.
Sonnen, according to the complaint, allegedly punched the first man, punching and kicking a second man, punching a third man in the face, punching and kneeing a fourth man and striking a fifth man with his elbow.
Documents explaining the details of the situation have yet to be released by the court or the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. A public records request from ESPN was denied by police Wednesday because the case is considered an open and active investigation.
Sonnen, 44, is a former multiple-time UFC title challenger, most known for his rivalry with longtime former middleweight champion Anderson Silva. He was one of the most popular and well-paid fighters of his era, a perennial 185-pound contender and charismatic antagonist to the UFC’s biggest stars. Sonnen is a former wrestling All-American at the University of Oregon.
The Oregon native was suspended two years by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for testing positive for several performance-enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone (HGH) and erythropoietin (EPO). It was his third positive drug test in MMA.
Sonnen never returned to the UFC after the suspension, signing with Bellator. He retired from MMA competition in 2019 and has worked for multiple promotions and media outlets as an analyst.