Why Chael Sonnen vs. "Shogun" Rua for UFC 161 Makes Sense

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Why Chael Sonnen vs.

The rumored matchup between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva might not have come to fruition, but that doesn’t mean the gangster from West Linn, Oregon isn’t willing to call out another Brazilian.

News broke over the weekend that Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was off the UFC 161 card vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, due to injury.  Sonnen offered up his services as a replacement, via Twitter early on Monday Morning:

 

Obviously, this is not the first time Sonnen has asked for a fight on short notice. He offered to face Jon Jones last September on eight-days notice, before UFC 151 was eventually cancelled. At that time Jones backed out, giving Sonnen months to talk trash until the fight was eventually made.

Sonnen was the recipient of high praise from UFC president Dana White, for being the only one willing to step up to fight Jones at that time. Not to say he has carte blanche here, but it seems logical that if he’s willing to step up to face “Shogun” on short notice, the UFC would give him the fight.

UFC 161 has already lost the main event between Eddie Wineland and Renen Barao due to an injury to the latter. The co-main event between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans has since been moved up to main-event status. The card is slotted for June 15, in Winnipeg, Canada, giving Sonnen two weeks to get in shape—if he isn’t already—since his one-sided loss to Jon Jones at UFC 159, at the end of April.  

Shogun is also coming off a loss, falling to Alexander Gustafsson by unanimous decision back in December on the UFC on FOX: Henderson vs. Diaz card. He is currently ranked No. 7 in the UFC light-heavyweight rankings.

Even with only a two-week time span, Sonnen’s promotional skills would instantly make more fans gravitate toward watching UFC 161 and generate more pay-per-view buys. There are other light heavyweight’s available, but Sonnen makes the most sense as a replacement for the card, as opposed to scrapping the fight altogether.

Stylistically, it is a solid matchup between the two. Both fighters are known for their willingness to engage, so it could make for some excellent action throughout the fight. Sonnen will most likely look to close distance and work his wrestling for a takedown. Rua is the better striker, and is still a very dangerous muay thai fighter; his knees from the clinch, and leg kicks can be lethal.  

Rua also likes to take things to the ground at times, and has excellent leg trips. Should it get to the ground, the battle between a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and one of the best wrestlers in MMA for top position is an intriguing one as well.

This matchup is certainly one that the fans and media can get behind. We shall see if the fight does in fact get made in the coming days. We will probably, almost certainly see more tweets from Mr. Sonnen.

Michael Stets is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report

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