Chael Sonnen is tired of the shenanigans going on in the UFC’s middleweight division. Or in this case, the lack thereof.
Sonnen was a two-time middleweight title challenger during his run with the promotion, but in recent years, the outspoken MMA analyst noticed an upsetting trend amongst the division’s top stars. Simply put, nobody seems interested in fighting each other. In his latest episode of Beyond the Fight on YouTube, Sonnen sounds off on the entire 185-pound division.
“I really like that division,” Sonnen said. “Perhaps that’s nostalgia because that was my division, but I really like that. I follow it pretty close. Massive skill there. These guys have a lot in common. They can all punch. They can all kick. They’re all really good. They’ve all been in main events. They’ve all fought for world championships and none of them want to fight. At least not each other, but that’s another thing that they all have in common. I read about 185 pounds every goddamn day. You know what I don’t read? I don’t read a call-out ever.”
Earlier this year, middleweight standout Paulo Costa became the latest fighter to call out the UFC for what he believed was an unfavorable contract. Originally scheduled to square off with Robert Whittaker at UFC 284 in Australia, ‘The Eraser’ told everyone willing to listen that the fight would not happen despite an official announcement until the promotion ponied up the big bucks.
As a result, the bout was canceled and UFC president Dana White gave every indication that Costa would likely be released altogether. However, that was not the case as Costa revealed he had signed a much more favorable four-fight deal with the promotion and immediately called for matchups with undefeated Chechen monster Khamzat Chimaev and the ever-controversial Sean Strickland.
“So now we’ve got Paulo back,” Sonnen continued. “Signed a four-fight deal. Paulo got you a little bit closer. He did throw out [Khamzat] Chimaev’s name, but he also threw out [Sean] Strickland and that’s very different than a call-out. It’s a suggestion. It’s helpful. It’s good, but it’s not the same. Why is that? Why aren’t those guys calling each other out? Are they buddies? I mean, sometimes that happens.
“Is that what’s happening here? We’ve got five guys at the top and they’re all buddies or something? That doesn’t sound right. Sean Strickland doesn’t have friends. Paulo Costa hasn’t been nice to anybody. Chimaev walks into a glass house and starts throwing stones. That doesn’t sound right, but somehow that’s what’s happening and it’s been going on for quite some time.”
Paulo Costa is RE-SIGNING with the UFC
per YT/PTV, Paulo is signing a new 4 fight deal, with the UFC wanting him to face Sean Strickland or Khamzat Chimaev next 👀 pic.twitter.com/1CcSMd5v1m
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) March 23, 2023
Chael Sonnen Believes Paulo Costa Would Be Best Served by Moving to Light Heavyweight
With the top middleweight contenders seemingly uninterested in competing against one another, Chael Sonnen believes Paulo Costa would be best served by making a move to light heavyweight. Aside from Costa’s struggles to make the 185-pound limit at times, Sonnen believes the new weight class would present Costa with a plethora of interesting matchups.
“I’ve always wanted him as 205 pounds, but I can’t get my way. Even when he’s coming back now, he’s coming back to 185. He’s been very disciplined. That’s where he wants to be. That’s awesome, right? I mean, he’s got a vision, he’s gonna stick to it. I’m just sharing with you, I like him at 205. I think it’s a fresh coat of paint. I think it’s an interesting division and I think he matches up very well there and in all fairness, I don’t have a lot of ideas down at 185.”
Sonnen also noted the all-over-the-place nature of Khamzat Chimaev’s callouts. Originally expected to challenge for the welterweight title, a weigh-in snafu ahead of UFC 279 has seemingly pushed Chimaev into a move to middleweight. Yet the Chechen seemingly never talks about fighting in the weight class as he continues to call for fights with Colby Covington, a welterweight.
“He suggested Strickland and he suggested Chimaev. That sounds good to me, but I got an interview with Chimaev just yesterday. He was talking about Colby [Covington]. Chimaev was on Ariel’s show talking about Colby. Colby’s a 170-pounder. The last time he was on Ariel’s show, he talked bout [Alex] Pereira, but doing it at 205 pounds. We got a lot of talk going on, but we don’t have it at 185 pounds. Are we at 185? It’s a massive lack of clarity.”