In just a few hours, FOX Sports 1 will launch as the new Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) home, and its debut event, UFC Fight Night 26, features a classic clash of mixed martial arts (MMA) styles when Mauricio Rua takes on the always-entertaining Chael Sonnen.
Rua was originally slated to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 161, but the Brazilian was forced off the card because of an injury. Sonnen tried to step up as a replacement, but visa issues prevented the "American Gangster" from appearing on the card and "Shogun" was pulled from the Winnipeg event shortly after.
The Light Heavyweight showdown has potential to be a stellar fight, rounding off an excellent fight card on paper. But, before the action commences and the time for talking is over, both main event fighters shared some brief "Last Words."
Check them out:
Both main event competitors had a chance to speak to the media at the pre-fight press conference in Boston (watch video replay here) before they squared off at the weigh-ins (watch video replay here). Starting off with Rua, the former UFC 205-pound champion was asked about his past, as well as where his future lies.
On his inconsistency and inability to string together victories:
"I think part of that is because I've always fighting the best guys in the world -- since I started my career, I always faced the best and top guys. I always train to do my best, always looking for the victory."
If he is surprised of Sonnen's lack of trash-talk:
"No, it doesn't because Sonnen always respected me -- since the beginning of our careers and even before this fight. Even if he starts talking it's not going to change anything ... my desire for the victory will be the same. I'm an experienced fighter and it doesn't change my mind."
On where a victory over Sonnen puts him in the division:
"My main goal is to get back to a title shot and I think this victory over Sonnen is the first step. Right now I'm really focused on this fight and getting back on track. I think my chance at the title shot (depends on) the result of this fight."
The questions then shifted toward Sonnen, who was in true form, never shying away from his opinion:
On his opinion of "never leaving it in the hands of the judges:"
"It's good advice, we're always trying to finish matches -- I'm a wrestler, and you're always looking to pin the guy which means put his shoulders to the mat and that's the best thing you can do. The judges are very good and we all love to gripe because that's fun -- we all love to talk about that as an analyst or as a fan. The reality is when people are judging people -- it's never fair. It's not fair in rodeo; it's not fair in gymnastics and we've got problems in this sport. The judges are competent. I like to see myself on TV and so does the rest of the world so I'm not in any big hurry out there. But if you can finish a fight, finish it."
On how this fight can help or hurt him at light heavyweight (205 pounds):
"185 is a tremendous nuisance. Ive got 10 pounds to go to get to light heavyweight and if I was at 185 id have 30 pounds to go so I would rather not cut weight, but there are certain fights that I want so there are weight classes and regulations."
On his opinion of where "Shogun" is at and if he can take him down regularly:
"I think he's awesome. He's a top 10-ranked fighter, he's a former world champion and a true legend in the sport and there's not a whole bunch of them out there that are still competing today. I would never underestimate "Shogun" -- I haven't had a big wish to fight "Shogun". Little Nerd said he was going to do this fight, pulled out like he always does, coincidentally after the posters, press releases and free marketing all got done and I'm from a different time. I'm from a time where your word meant something - when you sign a contract you show up for work whether you like it or not."
Ariel Helwani caught up with both main eventers that same day to share some final thoughts on each other, and Sonnen was up first:
On his change of camp for this fight:
"Who's cornering me would be my traditional coaches. One, the process already started and two, Boston was very hard to get into. These are the gentlemen I want in my corner."
On his compliments of "Shogun" and his surprise of lack of compliments back:
"It doesn't change my opinion of him. I don't like him because I want to like him, Ive been around him and he's a good dude. I've been entertained by him over the years and I've been inspired by him at times as most fighters have. He's open to his own opinion, too."
Helwani then interviewed Rua, who was in good spirits leading up to his fight.
On his thoughts of what Freddie Roach said about his girlish striking:
"Freddie Roach is an amazing coach, I know what he's saying. But, in the end, he said I hit like a man, so I'm happy about that."
On his thoughts of Sonnen's criticism of Brazil and if he has a lack of respect for his opponent:
"I respect him as a professional fighter, the only think I don't like is when he talks trash about people -- I don't think that's the way to do it. Although I respect him as a fighter."
Finally, Sonnen was live via satellite from his hotel room in Boston where Daniel Cormier and Kenny Florian tried to ask him some questions on UFC Tonight, but in true Sonnen fashion, he provided us with another poem for the ages:
"On August 17, a fight's going to take place and everyone's screen saver will be Wanderlei's face. Not scowling or pouting or pounding his fist, or stumbling with English or rolling his wrist, but watching in horror as docs try to wake his little henchman Shogun who made the mistake of cutting in line on my way to his boss, and ended up knocked out and trying to explain the loss. Sitting at the press conference table with Wanderlei outside, hailing a cab for the panic-filled ride to Logan Airport, or better still to the docks, to stow away, on a boat to Brazil to get away from this gangster right here, who will eventually will leave him face down and end his career."
As the pre-fight talk ended with some strong words from both fighters, we look forward to spending the card later with you, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire Fight Night 26 card this weekend, starting with the Facebook "Prelims," which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 6 p.m. ET and then main card action, which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.