Chael Sonnen believes the general public could be overthinking two upcoming UFC world championship fights.
The new calendar year has just begun, and arguably the two biggest fights have already been booked. Firstly, reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski is moving up to lightweight for a chance to become a two-division champion against Islam Makahchev on February 11 at UFC 284.
Just 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐑𝐓𝐘 𝐃𝐀𝐘𝐒 until the pound-for-pound #1 and #2 clash in a Superfight Down Under! 🇦🇺
— UFC_AUSNZ (@UFC_AUSNZ) January 12, 2023
Secondly, Jon Jones is making his heavyweight debut after vacating the UFC light heavyweight title in 2020. ‘Bones’ has been matched against Ciryl Gane for the vacant heavyweight championship on March 4 at UFC 285. During an episode on his YouTube channel, Chael Sonnen compared the weight difference in these two fights by saying:
“There’s nobody in the locker room, the boys or the girls, at any weight class, that thinks there’s any difference between 145 pounds and 155 pounds. I realize that many people in the public do. I’ll just share with you that the fighters don’t. That is the same thing. Fighters want to say that about 205 versus 265. That is a very meaningful gap.”
Although Jones is making the bigger weight jump, the betting odds have ‘Bones’ as a near pick em against Gane, while Volkanovski is a massive underdog against Makhachev. There are a lot of factors being considered between both championship fights, but Sonnen believes the only question that matters is, which is the better fighter?
Chael Sonnen uses a quote by Freddie Roach to simplify Alexander Volkanovski vs Islam Makhachev and Ciryl Gane vs Jon Jones
Chael Sonnen further explained his point of view by referencing the legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach. Sonnen detailed how Roach once mentioned that he wasn’t worried about wild factors while coaching Manny Pacquaio because he knew Pacquaio was always a better fighter than his opponent.
During the same YouTube video, Sonnen compared Roach’s quote to Alexander Volkanovski vs Islam Makhachev and Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane:
“So, if it does come down to that [who’s the better fighter]. If it is just that basic and simple, why are we playing the game that Volkanovski is too small… Let’s just set weight aside. Let’s do that real fast. There’s a pound-for-pound ranking within our industry that we all recognize…”
Volkabovski is the number one UFC pound-for-pound fighter, with Makhachev closely behind at number two. Meanwhile, Jones is ranked number twelve, and Gane is unranked. Sonnen questions whether the UFC rankings system is broken or whether ‘The Great’ and ‘Bones’ should win their fights:
“So, these experts or expert or computer program, or whatever it is, is either not very good or Volkanovski wins… We can sit and analyze this. We can talk about that it’s in Perth. We can talk about who’s got the pressure. We can talk about Khabib apparently not going to be present… We can play all of those games, but if we’re not going to apply that same logic to Ciryl vs Jones, then we’re just admitting that logic isn’t true, and I think we have to default back to Freddie Roach. One guy is simply a better fighter.”
The question is, are the betting lines correct, or is Volkanovski being underestimated? As he stated, Sonnen believes there is no difference between 145 and 155 pounds. Therefore, shouldn’t ‘The Great’ be able to upset Makhachev according to the pound-for-pound rankings?
Similar comparisons could be made to Jones vs Gane. ‘Bones’ is moving up in weight, but does it make a difference if he’s the better fighter? Both questions will be answered in 2023.