What's at Stake for Chael Sonnen Against Mauricio Rua?

Joe ChaconContributor IIIJune 5, 2013

TUALATIN, OR - JUNE 26:  (Editor's Note: This images was converted to black and white.) Chael Sonnen takes a break during a workout at the Team Quest gym on June 26, 2012 in Tualatin, Oregon.  Sonnen will fight Anderson Silva July 7, 2012 at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Relevant as defined by Merriam-Webster is as follows:

"Having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand"

This is precisely what's at stake for Chael Sonnen in his fight with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at the just announced, via Fox Sports, UFC on Fox Sports 1 1 card on August 17 in Boston, MA. 

Sonnen appears to be the trend setter for fighters who lose and fall backwards into main events and title-fight pictures. Somehow, some way, Sonnen's career continues to climb with every loss. Granted, the three losses he has had in his last five fights have come against Anderson Silva (twice) and Jon Jones, but isn't a loss supposed to bump others into the lucrative position that Sonnen finds himself in?

The outrageous trash talking has cooled a bit from Sonnen as he transitions into the twilight of his career. All the talk about being the real champion and the nonsense he gave everyone leading up to his fights with Silva were fun for fans and media alike. There is one major difference between then and now: he is losing.

One of the common questions being thrown around each time Sonnen is mentioned for a big fight is why he continues to get these opportunities. The answer to that is simple; he is a company man who will promote the UFC brand, and regardless of whether or not he wins a fight he will show up and try to give the fans something to talk about.

As exciting as it might be for Sonnen to jump into big-name fights, he has to beat Rua in August to sustain credibility with fans. His post-fight career appears to be set as he is one of the best MMA analyst in the business, but even Dana White will have to question the decision to give Sonnen another main event fight should he get blasted by Rua.

The 36-year-old fighter no doubt understands his "act" only holds value if he gets a win. Without getting back into the win column, his strategy of picking a battle with other UFC fighters on Twitter and during press conferences will only continue to look cheesy.

I believe the sport needs characters like Sonnen, and I say "character" with the utmost respect. In addition to putting on great events, the UFC also needs to have fighters with the spontaneity and charisma that Sonnen has. Perhaps not to the extreme that he projects his words, but good enough to keep fans interested in story lines without having to script it.

Give Sonnen credit, he steps up to fight when others don't. For the sake of Sonnen's MMA career and the entertainment for fans all over the world, he needs to win on August 17. In seeing how deflated he appeared after his loss to Jones, my instinct tells me Sonnen will hang it up for good if he's beaten badly by Rua.

The upcoming fight is always the most important one for a fighter, and this couldn't be more true for Sonnen. Yes, being relevant is at stake for him, but when it all comes down to it, his career is what he is really going to be fighting for in Boston.


Joe Chacon is a Contributor to Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.