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Chael Sonnen Joins ESPN

Jason Barrett

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Chael Sonnen has found a new home for his broadcasting and analyst work.

The retired UFC fighter and former title challenger, who was fired from his job with FOX Sports earlier this year, has signed on with ESPN as an MMA analyst. ESPN officials today announced the signing following an initial report from the AP.

According to ESPN, Sonnen has signed a “multi-fight agreement as a studio and on-site analyst, providing expert pre- and post-fight insight on ‘SportsCenter’’s coverage of major UFC pay-per-view events.” He debuts Friday on the eve of UFC 180 and will appear throughout the weekend on “SportsCenter” and various ESPN platforms, according to the announcement.

“The industry leader in sports…and ESPN have finally joined forces,” Sonnen stated in the announcement. “You’re welcome, wait! These mics hot? The biggest thing to happen to ESPN since…well nothing really comes close. In all seriousness, to ESPN, to Disney, to the Hearst Corporation and to all the viewers…you’re welcome. From one industry leader to another, I look forward to the opportunity of bringing my stories, insight and unique perspective of mixed martial arts to the network.”

Sonnen (28-14-1 MMA, 7-6 UFC) was fired from his FOX Sports/”UFC Tonight” co-hosting gig and subsequently announced his retirement following a pair of failed UFC 175 drug tests earlier this year.

At a July hearing with Nevada State Athletic Commission, Sonnen (28-14-1 MMA, 7-6 UFC) received a two-year suspension for the failed tests. Sonnen admitted his guilt and said he agreed with the commission’s punishment, which also included paying the cost and analysis of the drug tests that ensnared him, agreeing not to fight in any other jurisdiction for his two-year term, and acting as an educator to both the commission and fellow fighters on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.

Sonnen was flagged for a total of five PEDs prior to a scheduled fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC 175 on July 5: anastrozole, clomifene, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), human growth hormone (HGH) and recombinant human erythropoietin. The first failed test prompted the UFC to pull him from the fight, after which he publicly retired from the sport. The second positive test, which revealed the presence of noted PEDs HGH and EPO, triggered the termination of his relationship with the UFC and FOX, where he served as a host of FOX Sports 1’s weekly “UFC Tonight” news program.

On his recently launched podcast, “You’re Welcome with Chael Sonnen,” the 37-year-old fighter said he didn’t regret his PED use.

“I’m not going to apologize because I’m not sorry,” said Sonnen, who had previously criticized PED users. “I’m a consenting adult; I knew exactly what I was doing. This was a premeditated decision. If I go jump in my car and I back up and I hit my neighbor’s garbage cans, I’m sorry for that. This was a calculated decision. I made the decision, and I’ll live with it. That’s it. I wouldn’t make any excuses about it.”

Credit to MMA Junkie who originally published this article

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Steak Shapiro Apologizes, Says He Didn’t Think Stetson Bennett Criticism Was ‘That Inflamatory’

“You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history.”

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Wednesday’s edition of The Steakhouse was one Atlanta sports fans were waiting for. Late Tuesday night, Steak Shapiro took to Twitter to promise that he would address Stetson Bennett IV’s reaction to his criticism of the way the quarterback behaved at Georgia’s National Championship parade on Saturday.

“The notion is that Steak was basically roasted,” he said of the coverage the social media spat received. “He was put on the grill and taken to task.”

Shapiro had tweeted that he did not think it was a good look for Bennett to be on his phone during the championship parade and that his speech seemed more about settling old grudges than it was about celebrating the team or the fans. In a message on Twitter, which began by addressing Shapiro as “Mr. Med Rare”, Bennett explained that he was using his phone to play music in the car he was riding in. He was not ignoring the moment or the fans.

After giving Bennett credit for coming up with a funny nickname, Steak Shapiro said that he was surprised that the quarterback took the criticism so personally.

“My job is to give an opinion. I didn’t think it was that inflammatory. I didn’t think it was that dramatic.”

He added that has no problem with Stetson’s disdain for the media. He just thought the parade should have been about the fans and the accomplishment rather than Stetson Bennett IV trying to settle old grudges. Still, Shapiro wanted to make it clear that he does not hate the Georgia quarterback. He remains one of Bennett’s most vocal fans.

“On three or four occasions, I was lambasted because I said I thought he was the greatest player in Georgia history, and I said that before he won the national title,” Shapiro said. “I said that when they had the undefeated regular season, and then people started saying ‘stop saying that about Stetson’ or ‘Stetson’s overrated’. I just kinda had his back the entire year and probably had his back the last two years. I just didn’t think Saturday was a great day. That is what I have been saying, and I stand by it. I just didn’t think it was a great-looking day.”

Steak Shapiro did offer an apology to Bennett. He said that if the quarterback was just trying to play music on his phone, that isn’t that big of a deal, and if he had known that is what was happening, his reaction may have been different.

“My bad,” he concluded. “You were just trying to play music and not ignore the fans. Still don’t think it was a great speech, but again, you’re the biggest football hero in Georgia football history. You’re one of the iconic sports figures — maybe number one — in a town of Hank Aaron, and Chipper Jones, and Domonique Wilkins, and Matt Ryan, and Deion Sanders. You’re probably number one all time.”

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Brian Gebhardt to Serve as Program Director of Sactown Sports 1140

“Learning under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti helped prepare Gebhardt for the next step.”

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Sactown Sports 1140 has found their next program director. After an extensive search, GM Steve Cottingim and Bonneville Sacramento’s Group Director of Programming Chad Rufer have found their next leader in Atlanta, GA, tabbing Brian Gebhardt to guide the brand’s programming department.

Gebhardt heads west to join Bonneville Sacramento after enjoying over seven years of success at 92.9 The Game. He has served recently as the Executive Producer of the ‘Andy & Randy’ show featuring Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker. During his time with the Atlanta sports station, Gebhardt has learned under skilled leaders such as Terry Foxx, Sean Thompson, Reggie Rouse, and Mike Conti. Those experiences prepared Gebhardt for the next step, as did working with numerous on-air talents who have helped The Game become a model of consistency in Georgia.

“Brian’s experience working with both premiere talent and professional sports franchises will help us help the Sactown Sports brand grow both on-air and on-line ,” said Cottingim.

“Brian demonstrated to us a real passion for leading extraordinary talent,” shared Rufer. “We are very confident that he will help us grow Sactown Sports into Sacramento’s premiere sports brand.”

“I can’t wait to get started and I am beyond excited to be working with Bonneville,” added Gebhardt.  

The hiring of the Georgia native as new PD allows Nick Cattles to focus exclusively on hosting the station’s afternoon show, a role he’s wanted to invest more time. Cattles joined Sactown Sports in November 2021 and has pulled double duty since arriving in Northern California. He hired Ramie Makhlouf as his afternoon drive co-host and the duo have built a solid foundation in afternoons. Having the ability now to focus solely on the show should allow Cattles and Ramie to elevate their program even more.

The first day on the job for Gebhardt will be Monday February 3rd. Depending on what develops with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs, there’s a possibility he could be walking into two straight weeks of Super Bowl planning. Regardless, Gebhardt has a new market to learn, a new team to meet, a new company to deliver results for, and an opportunity to take a big step in his radio career.

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DNVR Sports Files Injunction Against Bonneville Over Denver Sports Brand

“We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community.”

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After Bonneville International unveiled new branding for its Denver Sports properties, digital outlet DNVR Sports has filed an injunction to stop the radio company from utilizing the brand and logos.

In a Twitter thread, ALLCITY Network CEO Brandon Spano claimed DNVR Sports has already seen listeners, viewers, and readers confuse the two brands. “We can’t allow someone that represents the exact opposite of us to damage the goodwill of our brand or create confusion in the community,” Spano tweeted.

“Our branding was created purposefully, to be different from the way sports networks traditionally looked,” he said in another tweet. “To represent the city of Denver in a simple way while removing us from the gloss and pretentiousness of sports media. To create something that brings people together.”

Spano added that ALLCITY sent Bonneville a cease-and-desist letter last week, but claims the company failed to respond, so an injunction has been filed.

The Denver Sports branding utilized by Bonneville — which encompasses 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver — features a black and white city skyline as well as the Rocky Mountains inside a hexagon with block lettering. The DNVR Sports logo is a rectangle, similar to the city of Denver flag, with the sun centered between the mountain peaks and a block “DNVR” below the rectangle.

The complaint filed by StudioIP LLC — the law firm representing ALLCITY — claims the branding used by Bonneville constitutes “trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement, dilution by tarnishment, and tortious interference arising out of Bonneville’s trademark infringement of Plaintiff’s trademarks,” according to Westword.

Bonneville has denied any wrongdoing, saying the accusations “have absolutely no merit, and our legal counsel is preparing a formal response. Denver Sports remains committed to delivering the most in-depth and inclusive local sports content for all Denver sports fans.”

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