The Pros and Cons of Sonnen vs. Shogun as Fox Sports 1 Main Event
Shogun Rua and Chael Sonnen are names that have been on the lips of many fight fans for the last few days. With Minotouro Nogueira forced from a co-main event bout against Rua at UFC 161, Shogun vs. Sonnen was briefly tied to the event.
On Tuesday night, Sonnen announced on UFC Tonight that the matchup is scheduled to headline August's UFC on Fox Sports 1: 1 card.
As is to be expected with any major fight announcement, fight fans around the world are discussing this contest.
Here is a look at the pros and cons of booking Chael Sonnen vs Shogun Rua.
PRO: The False UFC 161 Report Got Fans Excited
With Brazilian websites reporting that Sonnen vs. Rua was booked for UFC 161, it took little time for the most respected MMA sites on the internet to spread the word and excite fans across the globe.
Unfortunately, when it came out that the reports were false, there was an immediate letdown across the industry. After all, Sonnen vs. Rua is a fun matchup between two of MMA's most popular stars.
By giving fans the fight that got them talking, the excitement surrounding the new booking is overtaking the disappointment surrounding UFC 161's seriously weakened card.
If you need an indication of how weak UFC 161's PPV card is, look no further than Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton. That's not a knock on the women's matchup. However, instead of a photo of Sexton, the official page for the event features a "shadow person" because the promotion apparently doesn't have a picture of the main-card fighter.
CON: This Booking Means Shogun vs. Lil Nog Has Been Abandoned
I wonder how Lil Nog must have felt in the co-main event slot underneath Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson. After all, the former PRIDE star has previously defeated both men. Plus, the February win over Evans sees the Brazilian ranked higher than he has ever been.
Originally, "Minotoro" Nogueira was scheduled to meet Shogun Rua at UFC 161. It wasn't until his injury that the notion of Rua vs. Sonnen was on anyone's mind.
With Rua now meeting Sonnen, this rematch between PRIDE stars falls to the wayside. That in itself is a shame, because their fighting styles would have led to an enjoyable slugfest between tremendously dangerous strikers.
No word has come down regarding the severity of Nogueira's back injury. Assuming that he isn't on the disabled list for too long, this matchup could have been rebooked for early fall. With Shogun now competing in mid-August, it is highly unlikely that Rua vs. Lil Nog II could take place in 2013.
Update: There are talks that Shogun could coach The Ultimate Fighter: Brasil 3 opposite Nogueira. However, that fight couldn't take place until 2014, and wouldn't make any sense should Sonnen upset Rua in their August matchup.
PRO: Both Fighters Have More Than Enough Name Value for Free TV
Dana White promised fans that UFC on Fox Sports 1: 1 would be the "best television card we've ever done." In order to to live up to his word, the UFC president would need to stack the event with easily-recognizable stars that fight fans are used to shelling out their hard-earned dollars in order to see.
Enter Shogun Rua and Chael Sonnen.
In 2012, both men competed on UFC on Fox cards, but otherwise have fought exclusively on pay-per-view since 2009.
These stars join Alistair Overeem, Urijah Faber and Thiago Alves to create one of the most exciting free events ever announced
CON: Both Fighters Would Have Drawn Considerable Attention to a PPV
While neither fighter currently has enough momentum to headline a pay-per-view under any circumstances, due to the aforementioned notoriety of each fighter, they would make a solid co-main event attraction.
Occasionally, a main event is predictable or undesirable in the eyes of fans. Without another marketable fight featuring quality stars, fans are likely to hold onto their money.
By putting Sonnen and Rua on free television, their drawing power will not be able to supplement the drawing power of a card in need of a boost.
PRO: Sonnen Can Prove Himself to Be a Legitimate Light Heavyweight Contender
When Chael Sonnen was announced as a title contender to compete against Jon Jones, fans immediately balked. After all, "The American Gangster" lacks the sort of light heavyweight credentials needed for such an opportunity.
Before the chance to fight Rua came along, Chael had been beating down the door of Wanderlei Silva in hopes of getting a fight with the brawler. Considering that Silva has won only four of his last 11 fights, MMA pundits have been trying to write off "The Axe Murderer" for years
That is exactly the type of fight that Sonnen should be trying to avoid if he hopes to remain relevant. A win over a post-prime, one-dimensional brawler like Silva would do little more than add a win to his resume.
Considering that Shogun is a former UFC champion and PRIDE standout, should Sonnen be able to pull out a win in this contest, it would prove his legitimacy within the division.
CON: Shogun Has Nothing to Gain from Beating an Unranked Fighter
The list of names defeated by Shogun Rua include former world champions Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, Mark Coleman, Rampage Jackson, Forrest Griffin and Alistair Overeem.
Rua is one of the most battle-tested warriors that the sport has ever known, and as such, can be thrown in the mix with any elite fighter without blinking an eye. The same can not be said for Chael Sonnen, who has lost three of his past five fights and has not won a light heavyweight contest in eight years.
Despite the fact that Sonnen recently competed for the UFC light heavyweight championship, he is not now, nor has he ever been a ranked fighter at 205 pounds. Should Shogun find himself victorious at UFC on Fox Sports 1: 1, it won't do any good to his legacy nor improve his divisional position.