LOS ANGELES, CA – On this week’s UFC TONIGHT, we break down this weekend’s UFC ON FX: BELFORT VS. BISPING fights. Tito Ortiz talks retirement, his new career and if Cris “Cyborg” Santos will fight Ronda Rousey. Jon Jones talks about the new season of TUF, whether he’s a better MMA wrestler than Chael Sonnen, his relationship with Dana White and whether he’s open to possible future fights against Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier. And Chael Sonnen is officially joining UFC TONIGHT.
Quote of the Week: Chael Sonnen announces to Kenny Florian that he’s joining the staff of UFC TONIGHT beginning January 29: “I was offered 60 MINUTES, THE TODAY SHOW, THE TONIGHT SHOW, they even said they would change the name to THE CHAEL SONNEN SHOW if I signed onto any of those sinking ships. THE X FACTOR said I could judge and compete at the same time, but I signed on the only dotted line that is important. I am going to join you in two weeks on January 29 on FUEL TV for UFC TONIGHT. I am going to bring the wisdom and the wits and we are going to sit side-by-side. You are going to be with the often-imitated, never-duplicated, the C to the H to the A to the E to the L on UFC TONIGHT.”
UFC TONIGHT Analyst Kenny Florian on Bisping vs. Belfort: “This is going to be a fantastic fight – very important at 185 pounds. Vitor Belfort is a south paw and very difficult to fight because he has a lot of speed and power. Belfort can submit you. He is a jiu jitsu black belt. Michael Bisping does everything right and everything necessary to win. He is so fundamentally sound.”
Florian on Michael Bisping: “Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping is one of those fighters who does all of the little things right. He is so relevant. He mixes it up very well. He takes his strikes very well and has a great rhythm to what he does. Once he’s found his reach, he isn’t one of those guys that will knock you down, but he will slowly chip away at you and he is very busy with his strikes. And he can take you down as well. We saw that in his fight against Brian Stann. He has taken down every single opponent he has ever faced. So, he’s definitely a difficult and tough opponent for Vitor Belfort. His ability to mix it up is second to none. He is one of the smartest fighters out there.”
Florian on if the weight cut will affect Belfort: “We are really not going to find out until we see him out there. We haven’t seen him at 185 since way back in 2011 when he fought Yushin Okami. And of course, Michael’s stamina is insane. We have seen Vitor gas out a little bit, but we won’t see until Saturday night how he holds up after the weight cut.”
Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones on if his opinion of Chael Sonnen has changed since being on THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER: “My opinion of Chael has been altered a little. I have realized that he is really good at putting up an act and that when he isn’t acting he is a pretty solid individual. I am glad I got to spend this time with Chael because my thoughts of him were pretty brutal, so he’s redeemed himself a little.”
Jones on picking his team on TUF: “When I picked my team, a lot of guys were really excited to be on my team. I actually talked to a few people from Chael’s team and they wanted to be on my team. It was nice to have the respect of all these guys. I went into this thinking I was the youngest guy of all the cast and I was the coach. It was really nice and reassuring to have their respect.”
Jones on if he or Sonnen is the better MMA wrestler: “Well, it’s hard to say who’s the better MMA wrestler. Chael takes down a lot of opponents, but he has been taken down my Damian Maia. Right now, I haven’t been taken down by anyone. I’m not going to say that it isn’t possible, but I’m going to have to say it’s myself based on stats.”
Jones on Daniel Cormier calling him out: “You know, the guy is a tremendous athlete and I wish he would just do it and just stop talking about it. I am open to fighting the best guys in the world.”
Jones on if he would fight Dan Henderson: “He is in title contention. I don’t think he ever left, he was just injured. With the momentum he has going I think that he definitely can. He and I have unfinished business. He has my okay to be in there and for us to pick up where we left off.”
Jones on his feelings towards UFC President Dana White calling him a diva: “Well, being in this business you learn to have tough skin and not take everything so personal. It is whatever. Dana says things and he says whatever is coming to his mind and you can’t blame him. Maybe sometimes I say diva-ish things, but it is what it is.”
Jones on if he would like to fight in Madison Square Garden in New York City if it happens: “Fighting in Madison Square Garden has always been a dream of mine. I’ve been chasing dreams since day one – going after the big things in life. So who knows what will happen, but it is a big dream to fight there. Give me the right opponent, you never know.”
Jones on if he has a one-liner for Chael: “No one liners. Just for Chael to bring it, that is all I look for. April 27, let the countdown begin.”
UFC TONIGHT Insider Ariel Helwani on Anthony Pettis’ reaction to Strikeforce Champion Gilbert Melendez getting the title shot against Benson Henderson: “Pettis is fired up. He’s not in favor of this decision, he told me yesterday. He’s been promised two title shots in the past, but he’s sick of talking about title shots. He’s not going to worry about it. He’ll take care of business against Donald Cerrone on January 26 and then he’ll worry about a title shot.”
Helwani on which Strikeforce fighters are coming to UFC: “There’s a Strikefoce invasion coming to UFC. It all starts at the top with heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier who will be fighting on April 20 at UFC ON FOX against Frank Mir in the co-main event. At 205, the guy to watch out for is Gegard Mousasi. We’ve been waiting so long to see him fight in the UFC. He wants a top-five name right away. At 185, everyone knows Luke Rockhold is coming to the UFC, but how about another Gracie, Roger, who is coming over. He’s looked very good at 185. Look for him to build on what his family member Royce Gracie did in the UFC many moons ago. At 170, if Tarec Saffiedine had lost last weekend, I was told he wouldn’t be coming to the UFC, but he looked great and won the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship and now will be coming to the UFC. At 155, we know Gilbert Melendez is coming over, but history will be made at 155 when Ryan Couture, son of Randy Couture, will come to the UFC and will be the first father – son duo in history to fight in the Octagon. There will be a lot more to look for in 2013 as well.”
UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz on if he’s considering rejoining the UFC: “I don’t know, [I might take] the job that he [Florian] has. I am a month out of surgery. I had the disc replaced in my neck. I would like to bounce back as quick as possible and I’m very thankful for it.”
Ortiz on managing Cris “Cyborg” Santos: “I have almost managed my whole career, except when Dana White managed me early in my career. And he taught me a lot of things and walked me through things. It made me smarter and now as a manger I can make better decisions for my fighters that I didn’t make in my career.”
Ortiz on Cyborg cutting weight to fight Ronda Rousey: “When I first signed her she told me ‘I can’t go down to 135 because I walk around at 170 – 172. As a women it’s hard to cut down. And, it sounds like a disadvantage for me to cut down so much since I am a champion fighter.’ I think it is way too soon to say and I don’t want to hurt my fighters and she is still the champion. Last year she took some substances given to her by her trainers that she didn’t know about that got her in trouble, but I am going to put my stamp and my name on her and make sure she doesn’t get involved in those things again and make her a better fighter. It is going to be tough for her to get down to 135. At 145, she is shredded and to get ten extra pounds off is difficult. If she can cut the weight in a healthy way and the doctor can approve it, then let’s see the fight happen.”
Ortiz’ thoughts on Liz Carmouche fighting Rousey next: “Ronda is a great champion. She has a great name. Her attitude completely changed. And I guess when the spotlight is on you, you shine a little more and she deserves all the fame she has right now because when she fights Cyborg, she will no longer have the title.”
Ortiz on what he is looking for when signing fighters: “What I am really looking for is people who have a draw, who know what marketing it is and have the drive to do interviews after a fight when they are tired so they can become a household name, like I was able to achieve on a main stage due to promotions. It’s not just about fighting, it’s about promotion too because if not, people forget about you. You have to make yourself a name and a brand. I did it the right way, with lots of integrity, the way I wanted to do it and that is what I try to show my fighters in my management, that integrity is a big thing for us.”
UFC TONIGHT is the official weekly news and information show of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The show is co-hosted by veteran UFC fighter and multiple title contender Kenny Florian and UFC light heavyweight contender Chael Sonnen. Leeann Tweeden contributes, while three-time World MMA Awards Journalist of the Year Ariel Helwani adds insider news.
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