Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen
The much-anticipated debut of Fox Sports 1 will be greeted by one of the best UFC cards you will ever see on paper. The organization will be making their return to the TD Garden in Boston on August 17th for UFC Fight Night 26. The card will be headlined by the always entertaining Chael Sonnen as he takes on one of the most respected fighters of all time, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. Also on the card will be big names such as Alistair Overeem, Urijah Faber and Joe Lauzon. The six main card bouts and four preliminary bouts will all be aired live on Sportsnet 360 in Canada and Fox Sports 1 in the US. There will also be three preliminary bouts aired live on Facebook.
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (21-7) vs. Chael Sonnen (27-13-1)
It has been a confusing few years for both Chael Sonnen and Mauricio Rua. Failed title shot attempts by both fighters have left them in a confusing position in their careers. It is tough to say if this fight will rejuvenate the careers of either fighter but it will definitely be a good stepping-stone. Both have been unable to win the big fights that they need and that is especially the case for Sonnen, who has lost three of his last five, all in title fights.
Rua is coming off of a tough decision loss to Alexander Gustafsson and has not been able to put together an impressive streak in years. Defeating a guy as tough and durable as Sonnen would be a start for a guy who was considered one of the greatest fighters in the world. Sonnen has stated he is making the move back down to Middleweight whether he wins this or loses this, but beating Rua would be a great way to move back down to his natural weight class.
Both Rua and Sonnen are very different fighters, but have one trait that is very similar: they both move forward no matter what the situation at hand. Sonnen will want to charge at Rua and clinch, working to push him up against the cage for takedown attempts. Rua will look to push forward, throwing a variety of kicks and punches, trying to end the fight any chance he gets.
Rua has been historically average with his takedown defense and will likely get taken down multiple times in this bout. What he is good at is making his way back to his feet. If he can manage to scramble well and maintain decent cardio against the relentless Sonnen, he will be increasing his chances to knock him out. However, Rua is not too big of a Light-Heavyweight and will likely struggle to hit Sonnen with something hard enough for him to give in. It is always tough to bet against Rua but Sonnen should get the decision.
Prediction: Sonnen via Unanimous Decision
Alistair Overeem (36-12) vs. Travis Browne (14-1-1)
After being one of the most hyped Heavyweights in UFC history, Alistair Overeem had his stock dramatically drop after getting knocked out by Antonio ‘Big Foot’ Silva. He will be going up against Travis Browne, who is coming off of an impressive (yet, controversial) knockout victory over Gabriel Gonzaga after suffering the first loss of his career to Silva less than a year ago.
Both fighters prefer keeping the fight standing but they are both well rounded. Where the fight may change is who is willing to take a little damage to give damage back. The deceiving thought going into this bout is that Overeem has the striking advantage. Although Overeem proved to be a great kickboxer, he never proved that ability in MMA. Browne will likely go in as the better MMA striker but Overeem does have a solid history as a grappler and his size should be a factor if the bout hits the ground.
This fight might have a bit of back and forth but it will likely end in one of two ways. Overeem will move forward and use his size and strength to manhandle the smaller Browne or Browne will use his speed and excellent movement to catch Overeem and get the finish. This is a fairly unpredictable bout in terms of entertainment value but if Browne is the one coming out on top, it should be in exciting fashion.
Prediction: Browne TKO Round 2
Urijah Faber (28-6) vs. Yuri Alcantara (28-4)
It has to be tough being as talented as Urijah Faber. He absolutely dominates top competition repeatedly but can never get the title. Well, Yuri Alcantara will certainly be another interesting challenge for the dynamic and ageless Faber. This fight should definitely be exciting anywhere it goes as they are both well rounded in the best of ways.
Despite having a fairly long career, Alcantara is still a little unknown. He has shown flashes of greatness (go check out his knockout of Ricardo Lamas in the WEC) and he has disappointed in some performances that had fans questioning if he would ever show his full potential. Beating Faber would definitely skyrocket his name and on such a massive platform.
Faber is known to dominate fighters. Alcantara is not the type of fighter to necessarily be dominated but his loss to Hacran Dias may have shown certain vulnerable areas in his game. If Faber can use his speed on the feet to explode and get big takedowns, he could control the bout with ease. Alcantara will be tough to strike and grapple with, so this one could go down to the wire. You can never count out a guy like Faber to come through though.
Prediction: Faber via Unanimous Decision
Mike Pyle (25-8-1) vs. Matt Brown (17-11)
After winning a shocking five straight fights, it seems pretty crazy that Matt Brown is going under the radar in this fight against Mike Pyle. Both fighters always put on pretty exciting fights, especially as of late, and this bout should be no different. Pyle has been on a streak of his own, reeling off four straight wins, three via knockout.
Brown’s strategy is obvious and it has never changed since he started fighting. He will move forward, brawl and go for takedowns with fairly poor technique but just fight at an absolutely relentless pace as fans wonder “how is this guy still going?” Pyle has strong wrestling and basic but very technical Muay Thai. He is usually the aggressor but he likely will be backpedaling a little more than usual against a guy like Brown.
What has been questionable about Pyle is that he has not had many strong full outings over his winning streak. That is especially the case in his last two, where he seemed to be struggling to keep up. His grappling and striking, however, has saved him enough and against a guy like Brown who tends to make a lot of mistakes, that should be enough for Pyle to capitalize in an exciting bout.
Prediction: Pyle via Guillotine Round 2
Uriah Hall (7-3) vs. John Howard (20-8)
There were high expectations for Uriah Hall after The Ultimate Fighter and he definitely disappointed in the finals against Kevin Gastellum. He has a strong chance to rebound against John Howard, who was cut from the UFC in 2011 and fought his way back to get a short notice bout on the main card.
This fight will likely exclusively be standing, as both fighters do not seem to care very much about grappling. They both love to use their power and will likely swing for the fences. Hall is a technical fighter and throws many different techniques while Howard will likely stick to using his hands.
Gastellum showed that if you get in close to Hall and eliminate the possibility for his crazy kicks, you have a great chance at breaking his strategy. Howard did not look great before getting cut. He will need to be aggressive and confident in his power. Odds are, Hall might be just too fast and strong for the smaller Howard. This should be a lot closer than most are treating it though.
Prediction: Hall via Unanimous Decision
Joe Lauzon (22-8) vs. Michael Johnson (12-8)
Serious question. How can you not love Joe Lauzon? He has consistently been one of the most entertaining fighters in the UFC and his post-fight bonuses have proven that to be true. He will be going up against Michael Johnson, who is desperate for a win after dropping his last two.
Johnson has been very up and down during his stint with the organization, as he was on a three fight win streak against solid fighters prior to his last two fights. Lauzon is as tough as nails. His grappling has been great in the UFC and his striking has always been fairly underrated. He has always had trouble against top competition. Johnson has solid movement on the feet and is a decent wrestler. He is definitely not top competition though. Lauzon should be able to dominate in his hometown.
Prediction: Lauzon via Rear Naked Choke Round 1