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LOS ANGELES, CA – On this week’s UFC TONIGHT, we break down UFC ON FUEL TV 7 headlined by the championship fight between Renan Barao and Michael McDonald. Hear Chael Sonnen and Kenny Florian's thoughts on everything from Vitor Belfort's TRT exemption, Anderson Silva being ahead of Jon Jones in the Pound-for-Pound Fighter rankings and the IOC removing wrestling from their core sports.
Quote of the Week: UFC TONIGHT’s Chael Sonnen on the list of top five pound-for-pound fighters: “Anderson Silva has a number of records, but I wouldn’t call this guy the pound-for-pound best when he’s not the round-for-round best. It is very rare to have a 10-8 round against a guy. I’ve got three 10-8 rounds in my life, Kenny, and they were all against Anderson Silva. We’ve got GSP, who’s never been beat like that. We’ve got Jose Aldo, who’s never been beat like that. Jon Jones has never once been in trouble like that. To say a guy is pound-for-pound best when he’s not round-for-round, is a stretch.”
Sonnen on Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald: “Michael McDonald is really a special talent, but he has his work cut out for him against Renan Barao. Urijah Faber is one of the best fighters ever. He had his choice when Dominick Cruz was hurt, to fight either Barao or McDonald and he chose Barao, which tells me he finds McDonald to be more dangerous. If McDonald wins, it’d be a big upset.”
UFC TONIGHT’s Kenny Florian breaks down Barao vs. McDonald: “The way Barao came out and beat Faber was really his coming out party. Faber is one of the best at 135. The fact that he went out there and beat him the way he did really tells me something. He trains with Jose Aldo, one of the best, so you know he’s legit.”
Sonnen picks McDonald over Barao: “We’re going to see an upset. McDonald is going to win this with his boxing. This is a razor-thin fight, don’t miss it.”
Florian discusses Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier: “These two guys have been at the top of the weight class for a while now. The winner of this fight may get the next shot at Jose Aldo’s belt. Cub Swanson is on a tear right now, knocking guys out. He was impressive against Ross Pearson with the fade away hook that he landed to knock him out. Dustin Poirier is a beast on the mat.”
Sonnen predicts Poirier over Swanson: “It is a razor-thin fight, but Poirier is going to get it. He needs it a little bit more, and he’s a little sharper right now.”
Sonnen breaks down Cyrille Diabate vs. Jimi Manuwa: “Look for a slugfest between these two. I don’t see this going the distance. Cyrille Diabate is a four-time Muay Thai world champion. We have to respect that. He also won his last fight by submission, which means he’s learned something.”
Sonnen picks Diabate to beat Manuwa: “This is a stand-up fight. I’ve got to go with the stand-up world champion. I think Cyrille takes it, and I think he takes it on the feet.”
Florian breaks down Gunnar Nelson vs. Jorge Santiago: “Santiago is from the Blackzilions and is in the UFC now. Gunnar Nelson is a guy I’ve seen in training who can wrestle with Georges St-Pierre. I don’t see any guys who can really do that. And he’s world class jiu jitsu guy. A win over Santiago is going to cement him as a real threat in the welterweight division.
Sonnen on Nelson vs. Santiago: “Gunnar Nelson had the single most impressive debut in the UFC I’ve ever seen. He’s an awesome grappler, but we don’t know a lot about him. Santiago is a very seasoned veteran. He’s got a couple of weak moments inside the Octagon, but he’s also had some brilliant moments and he’s undefeated since dropping down to this class.”
Florian on the list of top five pound-for-pound fighters: “Anderson Silva has had the title for so long, he’s defended the title for so long, that’s why everyone refers to him as the pound-for-pound best, but you have a huge point with Jon Jones and how dominant he’s been lately.”
UFC TONIGHT Insider Ariel Helwani on just-booked heavyweight fights: “Big news about the heavyweights: UFC President Dana White confirmed to me earlier today two very big fights for UFC 160 - Cain Velasquez will defend his title against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. It was last Memorial Day weekend that Cain annihilated Bigfoot, but Bigfoot has won two big fights since then. He just beat Alistair Overeem and he’s now the number-one contender to face Velasquez. Also on that card, the co-main event, Junior dos Santos, the former heavyweight champ, will fight Alistair Overeem. Both men are looking to rebound from losses, and both have been going back and forth for a while. It’s a very big card shaping up for Memorial Day weekend.”
Helwani on Gray Maynard moving down to featherweight: “Gray Maynard tweeted recently that he was thinking about going down to featherweight, and he said the only way he could be convinced to go down is if they give him a fight against Frankie Edgar. Maynard doesn’t even know if he could make featherweight, but he could be convinced if they throw in the Frankie Edgar fight, a coaching spot on TUF like Sonnen has now, or an Anthony Pettis fight at featherweight. But right now, he said that 155 is his home. His knee is feeling better; it’s just his hamstring that’s bothering him. He doesn’t know when he’ll be back.”
Florian on changing weight classes: “It’s very interesting that he wants to fight Frankie Edgar. There’s something to be said about going down to featherweight: I went down to 145 and got the title shot after one fight. Frankie Edgar went down, got the title shot. Anthony Pettis is going down and got the title shot. I think he sees it as a fast track to fight for that belt. He won’t fight Aldo, but I don’t believe that Gray Maynard – who had trouble making 155 – will make it down to 145.”
Sonnen on Vitor Belfort’s testosterone replacement therapy (TRT): “Let’s get one thing straight: There’s no such thing as a TRT. It’s just T, testosterone. He’s taking testosterone and the rules of Nevada are extremely clear, as they were explained to me. When I went through the rules in July, the number one rule was that you could not have ever tested positive for a banned substance, period.”
Helwani on Demian Maia’s next fight: “Demian Maia had an amazing performance a couple weeks back. He’s looking very good at 170 and he’s been talking about Tarec Saffiedine. I spoke to his manager and he said that’s the fight that interests them the most. The last Strikeforce welterweight champion is coming over to the UFC and he now has a big bull’s-eye on his back. The UFC has not said what’s next for him, and he hasn’t said what’s next for him, but Demian Maia thinks because all these big welterweights are booked on the UFC 158 card, that Tarec Saffiedine would make the most sense for him.”
Sonnen on wrestling being taken out of the 2020 Olympics: “How do you get rid of wrestling? It is the oldest sport in existence and in no walk of society can you tell me that seniority does not matter. Nothing can date itself back as far as wrestling. They didn’t have bikes, they didn’t have balls, and they didn’t have bats: They were pushing and pulling on one another. We have an idiocracy known as FILA (Federation Internationale des Luttes Associees) that has ruined the sport. We have two knuckleheads – who you couldn’t trust to run your local donut shop – regulating our sport of wrestling. At the same time – is this a surprise? Though it’s disappointing, no it isn’t. It’s basic science: the number-one rule in biology is that you either evolve or you become extinct. It’s over, guys. It’s not over in 2020 – it’s over in 2016. Here are the facts they’re not telling you: Wrestling in this country is supported by the United States Olympic Committee. That ATM is going to close the second they roll up the mat in 2016. We’ve got three and a half years left. It’s over, prepare the eulogy.”
“UFC Tonight” is the official weekly news and information show of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Veteran UFC fighter and multiple title contender Kenny Florian, Leeann Tweeden and three-time World MMA Awards Journalist of the Year Ariel Helwani bring you all the news and analysis.