“I have no animosity towards him, I have a lot of respect for him — it’s just one of those things where he’s an awesome competitor and I can’t wait to get in there to fight him. It’s a huge fight for me. It’s the biggest one I’ve had and I’m looking forward to it.”
“I feel he’s that gatekeeper to the Top 10 or Top 5 in the lightweight division. I think he’s put himself in that position by being one of the best fighters in the UFC. He’s had a couple really close decisions and that (Roger) Huerta loss set him back a little bit. Those minor setbacks have stopped him from actually fighting for the title, but he’s right up there….The UFC is throwing him at me to see what I can do. If I get past him that automatically puts me in a position where everyone knows that I’m the real deal and I’m ready to make a run for the title in another year or two. If I don’t get past him, it’s one of those things where it definitely sets me back.
He’s a wrestler, but he doesn’t stall, and he’s just 100 percent intensity all the time, so it should be fun. I think I’m the smarter fighter, more technical, and I know I can beat him. I’m 100 percent confident; I wouldn’t have taken it if I didn’t think I could win.”