Last night (Sat., Aug. 17, 2013), popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight standouts Chael Sonnen and Mauricio Rua faced off in the main event of UFC Fight Night 26 from TD Bank Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
With both combatants having lost their last bouts, Sonnen and Rua were in need of statement wins to regain any sense of momentum. The gameplan for each fighter appeared to be clear, as Sonnen was expected to utilize his trademark wrestling, while Rua was expected to come out guns blazing with his relentless Muay Thai.
It was Sonnen's major skillset that shined through first, as he took his Brazilian opponent down with his patented power double leg. Rua fought back with vigor, scrambling to get back onto his feet. He even took Sonnen down to the mat, where "American Gangster" sought out a guillotine choke to no avail.
The two foes became locked up in a body clinch, and Sonnen gained the advantage by throwing "Shogun" to the canvas. While Sonnen's ground-and-pound seemed to do little damage, he transitioned to side control as he continued to score points. Although Rua looked to land a powerful up-kick, Sonnen rained down with some punches. As Sonnen controlled "Shogun" with a front headlock, he pulled guard to jump into an unexpected guillotine choke attempt, this time having sunk the hold in deep.
Rua's attempt to break free was valiant, but his head simply wouldn't budge and he was on the verge of going out. "Shogun" tapped out inside the final minute of the first round, giving Sonnen his first finish since his submission victory over Brian Stann back in Oct. 2011.
After the fight, Sonnen took the opportunity to call out a potential opponent who he has had a much-publicized, ongoing beef with, the legendary Wanderlei Silva. That may be a fight that the UFC books for the sheer amount of backstory that could be portrayed. Interestingly enough, Sonnen talked little-to-no trash about "Shogun" heading into this bout and still managed to get the much-needed win.
However, one would assume that a feud with Silva would be the exact opposite. It's also an interesting mixed martial arts (MMA) match up for the fans, with an all-out striking attempting to deal with a truly world-class wrestler who never stops looking for the takedown.
For Rua, it's time for a return to the drawing board, as he's now lost two in a row. It's been a tumultuous ride for Rua throughout his entire Octagon tenure, seemingly trading wins and losses while struggling to gain footing in the rankings. It's tough to say where he goes from here, but "Shogun" has been through a ton of wars and put his body through a ton of stress. Rua really has nothing left to prove in the sports, and may have only a couple of fights left before he steps down.
He's a warrior, but his time at the top has come to a close ... at least for the foreseeable future.
Sonnen, meanwhile, proved he could still hang with the big boys when he knocked off a former champion. He has flirted with the idea of moving down to Middleweight following this bout, but with an impressive victory like this, he may find himself entrenched against more top 205-pound opponents.
What should be Sonnen's next move?