Throughout the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight division, legendary strikers have sustained dominance atop the mountain. First, there was Brazil’s Anderson Silva and now there is current 185-pound kingpin, Israel Adesanya, a man whose reign is slowly creeping up to that of “The Spider’s.”
Silva had his number of rivals during his run but none were greater than “The American Gangster” Chael Sonnen. Their two meetings — the rematch in particular — were among the biggest fights in the sport’s history. Sonnen, a firm believer in needing two to tango, sees Adesanya starting to approach an aura that requires the same assistance as Silva’s did.
“There was once a fighter named Anderson Silva, and everybody knew how great he was but Anderson had a hard time drawing attention, but only because people thought they knew how the movie was going to end,” Sonnen said on The Chael Sonnen Show (h/t MMA Fighting). “He finally got a counterpart that captivated the imagination of the world to think, ‘Wait a minute, this guy could actually beat him.’ I think that ‘Izzy’ is that good. I think that Izzy needs that.
“I think [Colby Covington] needs to go up to 185,” Sonnen continued. “Look, Colby has called out three guys in the last two weeks: He, of course, called out Kamaru Usman; he called out Israel Adesanya; and he called out Dustin Poirier. Now you’ve got to understand, the one thing those three guys have in common is they all have world championship belts somewhere on the mantle at home. These are hard callouts by ‘Chaos,’ but ‘Chaos,’ who’s obviously a No. 1 contender, does not get a fight for a championship. It’s a tough spot.
When looking at Adesanya’s most recent challenger and likely his next, Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier, respectively, Sonnen can’t help but view the silence and respect factors as problematic. Of course, it’s never an issue getting the exact opposite of those two qualities out of the character that is Colby Covington.
“So he’s (Covington’s) saying, ‘Look, I’m even willing to leave the division. Let me take this golden ticket of No. 1 contender and let me cash it in at 185 pounds,’” Sonnen said. “And quite frankly, nobody needs Colby as bad as Izzy Adesanya. I don’t know if Israel is aware of that yet, but he’s starting to fight people that aren’t doing their job in the media, that aren’t bringing the attention, that aren’t helping the brand and making the marquee fight as big as it could be. I think if Izzy stood back and saw what Colby has to offer, that’s gonna be a partner that he would like to do business with.”
The lone losses for Covington (17-3) in his last 11 outings came in title fights opposite current Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman. At UFC 272 earlier this month (March 5, 2022), Covington got back in the win column with a unanimous decision over heated rival, Jorge Masvidal (watch highlights).
Should Colby Covington move up to middleweight?
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