Light Heavyweight bout: Chael Sonnen (-125) vs Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (+105) Fight Breakdown: The main event for UFC Fight Night 26 brings us a light heavyweight match-up between the smart talking elite wrestler Chael Sonnen and hard-hitting knockout artist Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Sonnen is barely the favorite at -125 ($125 to win $100) with the return on the slight underdog Rua being +105 ($100 to win $105) at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Chael Sonnen (27-13 MMA, 5-4 UFC) makes his tenth Octagon appearance and second in the organizations light heavyweight division. His past two bouts were both title fights in which he came up short to two of the best fighters in all of MMA; Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, respectively. Chael Sonnen has taken his talents as a wrestler all the way to the top of the mixed martial arts world. His wrestling has dominated nearly all of his opponents, even in losing efforts. His biggest weakness has been his submission defense. In many fights, (most notably his first title-shot against Anderson Silva) he had been winning until getting caught in a submission and being forced to tap. Conditioning didn’t seem to be an issue with Chael Sonnen in his earlier bouts, but fatigue has been a factor for him, as apparent since his third round versus Michael Bisping and every bout since. He will need to have his cardio in check if he wants to control Shogun for the entire five rounds. If Sonnen strikes at all, I assume it will only be to set up his takedowns. He doesn’t want to stand and trade with Shogun and knows better than to do so, unless his desire actually is receiving a knockout loss. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (21-7 MMA, 5-5 UFC) steps into the Octagon for the eleventh time following a Unanimous Decision loss to title-challenger Alexander Gustafsson eight months ago. Rua, in my eyes, has not looked impressive since his May 2010 knockout victory over Lyoto Machida. Since then, he was dominated by Jon Jones and lost via TKO, crowning Jones as the new light heavyweight champ. After that, he beat Forrest Griffin via first round knockout in a fight Forrest Griffin completely did not show up for and checked out at the first sign of trouble. It was a obvious paycheck job for Griffin, if you ask me. After that, Rua was dominated by Dan Henderson in the 2011 Fight of the Year. It only became a close fight after Henderson gassed out. Up til that point, Rua was in trouble and had no offense to offer. After that, he hand picked an opponent he felt he could beat in Brandon Vera for a main event on FOX. Vera was actually doing okay against Rua until Rua knocked him out with a cheap shot while he was attempting to put his mouth piece back in his mouth. The Gustafsson loss followed soon after and now he looks to rebound from the loss and get back in the W column. I don’t think he has looked like the Shogun that once was, but many fans believe the old Shogun will be back. He will have the size advantage going into this bout and will most certainly have the striking advantage; Rua is a very crisp and powerful striker, vicious with all limbs. He’s always had a solid muay thai game and has recently sharpened his boxing with notorious trainer Freddie Roach. Rua has the submission edge going into this bout, but he will be looking to keep this fight on the feet in an attempt to hurt Sonnen and secure a TKO victory. Fight Prediction:Sonnen is like a painter and wrestling is his paintbrush; he will use it to paint his way to the masterpiece that is a Unanimous Decision victory. He will be dropping back to the middleweight division after this bout and many believe that he is a quitter, assuming he will give up and accept a TKO loss the very moment he feels he’s in any sort of trouble. It’s all I’ve been hearing and reading from everybody. Contrary to popular opinion, I think Chael Sonnen is going to show up hungry for a W in this bout. He does not want three losses in a row and wants to head back down to middleweight, carrying with him a light heavyweight win against Shogun, which would benefit him in his run for a shot at the middleweight title. I think Sonnen shows up and puts on a wrestling clinic against a declining Shogun en route to a UD W. Gabe’s Pick:Chael P. Sonnen by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) Gabe’s Recommended Play:Fight Starts Round 3 -220 is my main play but I also like Chael Sonnen -125 for a small play.
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