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Saturday, 07/07/2012, 02:56 pm

EXCLUSIVE | Renzo Gracie on Sonnen call; Griffin vs. Ortiz | UFC NEWS

Renzo Gracie is a legend. He is also one of the smartest MMA fighters I have met. He has affected so many fighters and athletes in a positive way throughout his career. The latest fighter to get advice from Renzo was UFC main eventer Chael Sonnen. Gracie opened up about Chael and what he said to him in a recent phone call.

“I have known Chael for a long time and trust me he is a great guy”, Renzo said. “People don’t realize what a great guy he really is. I do. I have seen him fight in Japan. Fighting battles back and forth. He is always fighting tough guys and always changing his skills from just wrestling to an unbelievable MMA fighter. If you understand like I do that he is the best person ever to fight Anderson Silva”.

Renzo also spoke with Chael about his outspokenness and respect. He also feels the Chael most of us see is not really who is.

“I know Brazil. He loves the people and he loves jiu jitsu. He just needs to sell the fight and take his frustrations out for things he had in his past. The defeat he had to Anderson, and the problems with the commission still bothered him. He does an unbelievable job selling the fights. He is the modern day version of Ali. His antics and talk don’t match with the person I know. When I call him it’s more to remind him that he couldn’t let the stuff in his past affect the good person he really was. He understood completely I think. He changed. Right away he stopped talking so much and focused on the fight. For sure tonight will be unbelievable”.

The co-main event for UFC 148 is Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin in their third and final fight together. Tito retires tonight win or lose, and Renzo believes he can walk out with his head high no matter the outcome.

“Tito has done a lot for the sport. He carried the UFC for a long time. He was the poster boy for them. He wasn’t there without a reason”, Gracie said. “One of his first fights he lost to a really good fighter and he changed completely after that. He became the champion. I think he has all of the tools to put up a great fight. At the same time he’s facing a very tough guy in Forrest Griffin. Griffin and Bonnar are responsible for the huge change that happened in the UFC. The exposure and the average Joe liking the UFC after they fought. To count Forrest out is to be dumb. Forrest is extremely tough and a tough fighter”.

As for an advantage going to either Ortiz or Griffin, Renzo believed it was too close to call.

“I really believe they are evenly matched. I think Forrest is a better striker and Tito has better wrestling skills. If Tito comes in strong I think it’s a very tough fight for Forrest. If Tito’s not at his best he’s going to go through hell to get through Griffin’s defense and striking. That’s what I like so much about this sport. You cannot predict. It’s a surprise box every time”.

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