Chael Sonnen and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua are an ideal feature matchup for UFC Fight Night 26. The event that will take place on Saturday night will be broadcast live from TD Garden in Boston, Mass., as part of the massive launch of the new Fox Sports 1 network.
The entire fight card is enticing, especially considering there are no title bouts. Fights like Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne and Urijah Faber vs. Iuri Alcantara could be considered co-features on most network television cards—and even some pay-per-view events.
Up to now, ESPN has been the end-all and be-all when it comes to 24-hour sports programming, but with fresh, bold and groundbreaking shows and events, Fox Sports 1 aims to claim a piece of the pie.
Even though this is the big debut of the UFC on Fox Sports 1, it's good the event doesn't feature any of the top stars in the promotion such as Jon Jones, Benson Henderson or Jose Aldo. It is best to allow things to build up to that point. Too much too soon can take away opportunities for growth.
The Sonnen-Shogun feature has all the elements that Fox Sports 1 is aiming to represent in the less-than diverse world of 24-hour sports programming.
No fighter in UFC history has been as adept at promoting himself, the sport or an event, like Sonnen. How else can you explain the appeal of a fighter who has rarely—if ever—delivered in the fights he's helped create primarily with his gift of gab.
He's part WWE superstar, part legit commentator and one heck of a wrestler, in the collegiate background sense of the word.
When the lights come on and Sonnen knows it's time to put on a show, he'll be at his best on the microphone and he'll give it his all in the Octagon. Check out this poem from Sonnen posted on FoxSports.com aimed at Shogun and his friend and former teammate Wanderlei Silva:
With an approach that couldn't be more different than Sonnen's, Shogun's presence provides a perfect contrast in the featured bout. The Brazilian legend usually isn't the man to talk a lot trash. His place in the sport's lore is secure; he isn't a self-promoter. Shogun is prideful and will look at Sonnen's promotional tactics as motivation.
Sonnen's comments about Silva and Shogun will only add to his intensity.
Each man's natural approach to pre-fight festivities will highlight the other's strengths. Shogun fans love his quiet, all-business behavior and they will long to see their hero shut Sonnen's mouth with his fists.
Both Guys Can Fight
Shogun's track record in Pride and in the UFC speaks for itself. He's a former Pride middleweight champion and UFC light heavyweight champion.
Shogun made the switch over to the UFC in 2007. Despite his career having had its ups and downs over the past four years, he's still a respected fighter.
For all the fluff Sonnen brings to MMA, no one who knows the sport will doubt his strength or technical wrestling acumen. He nearly defeated Anderson Silva in their first meeting; he dominated Brian Stann and Michael Bisping.
He won a thriller over Nate Marquardt in 2010. Those triumphs often get lost in his humbling defeats, but Sonnen is still a very good fighter.
The two men should top off an exciting night of fighting with a memorable main event.
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