Fight Breakdown: The main event of UFC Fight Night 26 is a five-round light heavyweight bout between Chael Sonnen and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The fight is essentially a Pick ’em, with Sonnen currently at -110 (bet $110 to win $100) and Rua at +100 (bet $100 to win $100) at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Sonnen (27-13-1) is coming off of two-straight losses, but keep in mind they came to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones in title fights, and those are two of the best fighters in the sport. Therefore, it’s hard to say that Sonnen is on a huge decline just because he’s lost two-straight fights by knockout, as you must keep the context in mind. The 36 year old American is one of the best wrestlers in the sport as he uses takedowns to put his opponents on the mat and beat them up there. But keep in mind most of his success came at 185, and at 205 he’s undersized. Assuming Sonnen can get the takedowns, though, he does have a clear path to victory to win this fight. But if he can’t get the fight to the floor and has to stand and bang with Rua, he will be in danger.
Rua (21-7) is the former UFC light heavyweight champion and is generally regarded as one of the most devastating strikers in mixed martial arts history. The 31 year old Brazilian is a dynamic muay Thai striker with especially brilliant punches and kicks, and he has an iron chin and strong heart that allow him to absorb an incredible amount of damage and keep on ticking. Although Rua’s UFC career has been up and down, he is a guy who is always dangerous and he’s always a tough out for anyone at 205. But against Sonnen, Rua’s takedown defense is going to be put to the test and because it’s been poor in recent fights, he’s entering this fight as a slight dog despite his superior resume. However, Sonnen is a small 205er and might not have much success if Rua shows up to this fight healthy and in shape, something that is always a question with him. Assuming he does though, and if he can keep the fight standing, look for Rua to put on a show and display the newly-found boxing skills he’s picked up from working with Freddie Roach.
Fight Prediction: I do see Sonnen having initial success with the takedowns and likely winning the first few rounds, but eventually Rua is going to be able to stop them and once he’s able to start landing strikes on Sonnen, the favorite is going to be in trouble. Rua’s experience in long, drawn-out wars is going to play dividends here as he drags the fight into the deep waters, puts Sonnen under pressure late, and win the fight with a late-round TKO.
Adam’s Recommended Play: At a Pick ’em price of +100, I really like Rua here for a play, but the line that’s even more intriguing to me is the fight does not go the distance prop, which is currently -150. This is a five-round fight and I really don’t see it going the full 25 minutes so as long as there’s a finish either way, you win. I also like the prop of Rua by TKO, which is paying +245, as part of a round robin as I do believe that’s the method Rua wins the fight by, although a submission win is certainly not out of the question.