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Chael Sonnen at a UFC 148 Pre-fight Workout
Sonnen has made a career out of grinding his way to decision after decision. In fact, most of his wins have come by judges’ favor. However, whenever the American Gangster wasn’t able to implement his typical takedown to ground and pound strategy, he has foundered.
After missing a spinning back fist against the former middleweight champion at UFC 148, Sonnen fell to the canvas and folded in the face of a charging Silva. The 36-year-old did not recover fast enough from his fall, lost his second opportunity to defeat his nemesis and failed to become champion once again.
At UFC 159, Sonnen faced Jones for the UFC light heavyweight championship. Despite his profound wrestling background, he was taken down by Jones and pounded into submission. With the loss, Sonnen squandered away his third opportunity at a UFC world title.
Leading up to UFC 159, Jones commented on his opponent’s “heart, soul and work ethic.” He stated:
Guys like Muhammad Ali, they said a lot of things that were bold statements. The difference between guys like Muhammad Ali and Chael is that guys like Muhammad Ali actually believe. No matter how much he tries to convince himself that he's gonna win this fight or that he's the champion without the belt; he just doesn't believe and that's why he comes up short in every opportunity he has to be a champion. He doesn't have a champion's soul, heart, work ethic. Nothing.
Conversely, Rua’s heart has never been questioned. He has engaged in all-out wars in Pride and in the UFC alike. Some of these high-octane matches include the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Brandon Vera and Lyoto Machida (I). His battle against Dan Henderson at UFC 139 was one of epic proportions and will not be soon forgotten.
Regarding Rua, Sonnen recently cited his respect for the former champion. He stated:
You know what? Rua seems like a really great guy. He's one of the few legends that are still fighting, and anytime you get old and you retire from the sport there's been an instant assignment of legend status. He truly is a legend; I admire him, I admire what he's done in the ring. He's good, he's not me, but he is very good.
Admiration aside, on August 17, Rua is set to face off against the American Gangster. Given the amount of adjustments that Sonnen needs to make to his game to defeat the former light heavyweight world champion, it is more than evident that he will face an uphill battle at UFC Fight Night 26.