UFC Fight Night 26 – Main Event Preview and Guest Panel Predictions
By Dave Carpinello
Former UFC and PRIDE champion Maurico “Shogun” Rua will meet controversial and charismatic light heavyweight contender Chael Sonnen this Saturday, August 17 at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. The main event highlights an action-packed card that will serve as the inaugural live sports broadcast on the newly minted network, FOX Sports 1. Welcome to PunchDrunkGamer’s main event preview as we are joined by some of mixed martial arts biggest names and superstars for our guest panel fight predictions.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-7) vs. Chael Sonnen (27-13-1)
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua rose to the top of the list at 205 pounds with his run in PRIDE, including winning the promotion’s 2005 tournament. Under the PRIDE banner “Shogun” secured wins over Alistair Overeem (twice), Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, and Kazuhiro Nakamura.
In his UFC debut Rua was upset by former UFC champion and TUF 1 winner Forrest Griffin by third round rear naked choke. Knee injuries sidelined the international superstar and caused a lackluster return in a rematch with Mark Coleman. After knocking out Coleman, “Shogun” returned to form with a knockout of former UFC champion Chuck Liddell.
Rua then challenged previously undefeated Lyoto Machida for the UFC’s light heavyweight championship, but lost a controversial decision. In an immediate rematch Rua knocked out Machida in the first round, but then lost his first title defense in a one-sided bout with Jon Jones at UFC 128. Shogun returned at UFC Rio for a rematch with Forrest Griffin and won the fight with a TKO in the first round. Since then the former PRIDE legend is 1-2 in the UFC, suffering close, bloody decision losses to Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson while knocking out Brandon Vera in between the those two fights
UFC Record: 5-5 (5 TKO/KO)
Strengths: Aggressive, good striking, Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
Key Wins: Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell, Alistair Overeem (2), Ricardo Arona, Kazuhiro Nakamura, Brandon Vera, Quinton Jackson, Cyrille Diabate, Kevin Randleman, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Akihiro Gono, Evangelista Santos, Mark Coleman, Forrest Griffin
Notable Losses: Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Forrest Griffin, Mark Coleman, Lyoto Machida, Renato Sobral, Dan Henderson
Chael Sonnen initially earned a reputation as a tough wrestler with lackluster submission defense until he joined the WEC. In the WEC he lost a controversially by submission against Paulo Filho, but was able to win a rematch by decision. When the WEC dissolved it’s heavier weight classes, including middleweight, Sonnen re-joined the UFC ranks. Sonnen had become more well-known at this point for his pre and post-fight comments, trash-talk, and humor.
In his return to the UFC, Sonnen was submitted by Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia. He was able to rebound however and earned one-sided decisions over Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, and Nate Marquardt. The impressive streak earned Sonnen a shot at UFC champion Anderson Silva. Sonnen dominated Silva over four and a half rounds before succumbing to a hail Mary triangle choke from the champion.
Following the loss Sonnen submitted former WEC champion Brian Stann with a first round arm-triangle choke and then won a lop-sided decision over Michael Bisping to put himself in place for a rematch with Anderson Silva. That time around though the champion laid waste to Sonnen early and often before scoring the TKO victory in round 2. Despite losing that fight, Sonnen talked his way into another title bout, this time facing UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 159. It took less than one round for Jones to ground ‘n pound Sonnen into submission.
UFC Record: 6-6 (5 Dec, 1 Sub)
Strengths: Durable, powerful wrestler
Weaknesses: Submission defense
Key Wins: Brian Stann, Bryan Baker, Trevor Prangley, Michael Bisping, Dan Miller, Nate Marquardt, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Paulo Filho
Notable Losses: Jon Jones, Anderson Silva (2), Demian Maia, Babalu Sobral, Jeremy Horn (3), Forrest Griffin, Paulo Filho
UFC on FOX Sports 1: Shogun Rua vs. Chael Sonnen – Guest Panel Predictions:
Tito Ortiz (16-11-1, UFC Hall of Fame) – “Chael is a great 185lb fighter but Shogun at 205lbs will out-class him. Chael will put up a great fight for the first 5 minutes but Shogun will win the fight. Chael needs to stay at 185lbs. I’m proud of him stepping up though, so let’s go Chael!”
Shayna Baszler (15-8, FCF Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix Champion) – “I am a huge Chael Sonnen fan, but seeing Shogun hit a leg lock would be pretty awesome as well. As much as Chael has been in headlines, he hasn’t won in awhile. Chael is due for a win.”
Jamie Varner (21-7-1-2, former WEC Lightweight Champion) – “Sonnen is going to win this fight via decision.”
Frank Shamrock (23-10-2, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, WEC Light Heavyweight Champion & Strikeforce Middleweight Champion) – “My prediction: Sonnen will lose and continue to be the only star in the UFC.”
Andy Main (7-1-1, Ultimate Fighter Alum) – “I think Shogun is going to come in to this fight with a great gameplan for Chael Sonnen, but it won’t matter. We’ll see if Shogun can sweep or submit him from bottom because that is where this fight is going to take place. Chael by UD.”
George Roop (14-9-1, Ultimate Fighter Alum) – “Chael Sonnen by decision.”
Paul Bradley (20-5-1, Strikeforce and UFC veteran) – “I am going to have to go with Chael by decision. I think his wrestling will control the fight and that he will benefit most from gaining top position off of his takedowns.”
Ricky Lundell (Head Instructor University of Grappling in Utah) – “I believe Shogun is going to win the main event. Chael is one of my favorite fighters, smack talkers, and people in general, however he has been doing a lot of work on the production and television side of the UFC, and it’s difficult to train while doing those things. Because of that I believe Shogun will take this bout.”
Pete Spratt (25-22, ISKA U.S. Middleweight Champion) – “Shogun by TKO in the 3rd round.”
Paul Buentello (31-15, Former King of the Cage Heavyweight Champion, Strikeforce & UFC Veteran) – “Sonnen will ultimately be the Winner with his take downs and he will take the decision.”
Justin Edwards (8-2, Ultimate Fighter Alum) – “I’m a Shogun fan but I think the key in this fight will be the wrestling factor. If Sonnen tries to keep it standing I believe he will lose. I don’t see him doing that though. He will pressure Shogun, take him down and hold the dominant position. I doubt Shogun will be able to get up from under such a high level wrestler. I think Sonnen will probably walk away the winner.”
Guest Panel Predictions Results:
Shogun Rua – 4
Chael Sonnen – 7
Undecided – 0
UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen – Fight Card
Main Card (Fox Sports 1):
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-7) vs. Chael Sonnen (27-13-1)
Alistair Overeem (36-12-1) vs. Travis Browne (14-1-1)
Urijah Faber (28-6) vs. Yuri Alcantara (28-4)
Matt Brown (17-11) vs. Mike Pyle (25-8-1)
Uriah Hall (7-3) vs. John Howard (20-8)
Joe Lauzon (22-8) vs. Michael Johnson (12-8)
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1):
Brad Pickett (23-7) vs. Michael McDonald (15-2)
Conor McGregor (13-2) vs. Max Holloway (7-2)
Mike Brown (26-8) vs. Steven Siler (22-10)
Diego Brandao (17-8) vs. Daniel Pineda (18-9)
Preliminary Card (UFC Facebook):
Manny Gamburyan (12-7) vs. Cole Miller (19-7)
Cody Donovan (8-2) vs. Ovince St. Preux (13-5)
Ramsey Nijem (8-3) vs. James Vick (4-0)
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