Despite Sonnen's transgressions against the law, it cannot be said that Chael did not turn heads and in doing so, get fans to part with their money.
Now, some might say to this "So what, he helped sell one pay-per-view, UFC 117, against Anderson Silva!" Such a view does not take the wider context of the event into consideration.
Before UFC 117, Anderson Silva was not a well-liked figure by any stretch of the imagination. He was responsible for three superlatively lackluster title defenses, arguably the worst of which being against Demian Maia at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi—the UFC's first venture into that market.
Many fans were beginning to (if they hadn't already done so) believe that Anderson Silva was cocky and boring. His drawing power was suffering, as was his popularity.
Enter Chael Sonnen. Sonnen went on a complete and total verbal warpath against Silva when it was announced that they would fight; Sonnen had made more soundbytes in only a few weeks than George W. Bush did in eight years.
Sonnen would actually back up his talk, taking the fight to Silva throughout almost the entire match. He went on to lose via a hail-mary triangle choke at 3:10 in the final round.
To make a reference to Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi said, "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." The same was true for Sonnen.
In defeat, Sonnen did more than he could have in victory; He successfully saved Silva's reputation, and restored his drawing power and fan base.
The same skeptic would also say, "So what, he helped one fighter!" That notion is wrong.
While Sonnen was in the UFC he also managed to fall perennial middleweight contenders Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt via his superior wrestling skills. Both fighters stepped up their wrestling training after losing to Sonnen. Okami even trained with Sonnen!
Thus, the increased wrestling skill of both Marquardt and Okami is part of Sonnen's influence in the UFC. Who knows, perhaps an Okami victory at UFC 134 will be the closest Chael Sonnen can come to getting revenge on his nemesis?