14 August 2013

MMA: UFC Fight Night 26 - Shogun vs. Sonnen

By StB
Milwaukee, WI

Sometimes UFC cards are hard to figure out. Take UFC 163. That was a real turd of a card. Sure, there were some injuries forcing replacements into fights, but there wasn't much to draw in the beginning.

On the other hand, Fight Night 26 on Fox Sports 1 is loaded. This card looks exceptional, from top to bottom. There is a lot of talent stepping into the Octagon this Saturday in Boston.

But what did you expect when the UFC and Fox Sports team up to launch a new cable station?

Let's take a look at the headliner. Maurico "Shogun" Rua takes on Chael Sonnen. Two fighters whose better days may be behind them.

Shogun excelled in Pride Fighting Championships. Three years ago he won the Light Heavyweight Championship from Lyoto Machida. Since then, he has been a seesaw fighter. Up and down. He has looked good in defeating Brandon Vera and Forrest Griffin but lost decisions to Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson. But which fighter shows up? Rua wanted this fight so we'll see if he walks the walk.

Meanwhile, Sonnen gets a fight like this simply because of his mouth. He knows how to talk to the promoter and then how to talk to the camera. He is the UFC's best talker. He takes the mic skills of a professional wrestler and applies it to mixed martial arts. He does what the pro wrestling biz calls "cutting a promo." His talk is designed to get you to watch the fight. Whether it be PPV or on cable, he talks the talk. Now, it isn't trash talking. Sonnen doesn't put his opponent down. He talks about how he will win. That gets fans to either love him, or hate him. But they watch. For a guy who has lost his last two fights- albeit title fights- he still manages to get top of the card billing.

I like Rua in this fight though he is a slight dog at +120. Sonnen at -140 doesn't seem too wise.

Let's look at the rest of the card. Alistair Overeem takes on Travis Browne. Overeem was poised to be the next Heavyweight Champion. But a failed drug test and them an embarrassing loss to tomato can "Bigfoot" Silva knocked him down a couple of notches. Overeem looked like a beast in Dream. He looked like a badass against Brock Lesnar. Thus to drop a fight to Silva it was a huge step down.

Overeem takes on Travis Browne, who ironically, has his only loss against Bigfoot Silva. Browne had a devastating knockout of Gabriel Gonzaga back in April. Before that he hadn't fought anyone of note. This will be a real test for Browne.

Overeem comes in at a decent favorite, -225. I would expect him to bounce back. Odds are winner gets a title fight. Though I am not a fan of the heavyweights, I am looking forward to this fight.

Former Bantamweight champion Urijah Faber takes on Yuri Alcantara. Faber was a badger in the old WEC. No one could touch him until he dropped the best to Mike Brown. He has faced some good competition since then. The division has caught up to the skill level of Faber. While he is always named for title fights, his last chance is now. A win gets him in line for a rematch against champion Jose Aldo.

Can't say I know much about Alcantara. Most of his fights have been in smaller organizations in Brazil.  That makes Faber a big favorite at -300. I would be surprised to see Faber lose this fight.

Matt Brown will scrap with Mike Pyle. Both fighters are relied onto get the crowd on their feet. This fight won't be boring. Heck, I'd be surprised to see it go 3 rounds.

Uriah Hall takes on John Howard. I recall writing how Hall might be the next big thing in the UFC. Then he dropped a deuce in the ring, losing the TUF title. He wasn't the fighter we had seen on TV.

John Howard makes his return to the UFC. He was around a couple of years ago before being dropped after 3 straight losses. Hall goes off as a big fave, -420. Wow! That much for a guy who choked?

Joe Lauzon and Michael Johnson round out the main card. Both are former TUF alumni. Lauzon is simply better. A good fight but I expect a KO in 2.

The prelim fights look good. But one fighter I want to see is Conor McGregor. The Irishman smashed his opponent back on Fuel TV in April. I want to see if he can deliver another beautiful uppercut again.

So go set your DVR now just in case you can't watch the fights live. I plan to get me a 12 pack of some  New Glarus Staghorn and stay in front of the TV all Saturday night.

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