UFC's Chael Sonnen: "It's Hard to Deny That Anderson Silva Is the Best"

Mike HodgesCorrespondent IMay 22, 2016

Chael Sonnen has turned over a new leaf. 

The outspoken UFC middleweight contender has had a target on UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, as well as Silva's teammates Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Lyoto Machida, since their title bout at UFC 119 last year.

However, during a UFC 136 conference call, Sonnen was asked his opinion on the Brazilian's status in mixed martial arts, and he was much more respectful and complimentary than usual.

"It's getting harder and harder to deny that he should be shown that appreciation," Sonnen said.

"His wins and losses speak for themselves and the fact of the matter, whether I'd like to admit it or not, is he's done a better job than anybody," he said. "He's done a better job than me, and he is the champion."

Despite losing to "The Spider," Sonnen was able to dominate and outwork Silva more than any other opponent before him. The bout was so competitive that an immediate rematch seems inevitable. 

Sonnen is expected to face Brian Stann this weekend at UFC 136. That will likely determine the next challenger for Silva, and should Sonnen earn a victory, he will be rewarded with an anticipated rematch against the middleweight kingpin. 

And although he might have slightly changed his perspective on Silva's accomplishments, he doesn't intend on holding back in the ring.

"I think his skills are vastly different. I think I could come down a lot and still be ahead of him. I also think he ducks and dodges opponents constantly," he said.

"That doesn't mean that I'm gonna quit poking my finger in his chest. But, at some point, I think fairness needs to kick in too, and I think you need to look at what he's done and tip your hat to him a little bit."