Shogun vs. Sonnen: Power Ranking UFC Fight Night 26's Main Card Fights
UFC Fight Night 26 delivered in a big way. It delivered for the UFC, for Fox Sports 1 and for the fans.
The undercard got things going with knockouts, submissions and back-and-forth battles. The main card then looked to keep that momentum rolling.
Unlike many UFC events, there were six main card fights for the Fox Sports 1 debut. It was capped off with a light heavyweight bout between Chael Sonnen and former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
It was a quality night of fights.
Here is how the night's main card bouts stacked up against one another.
No. 6: Uriah Hall vs. John Howard
This bout was a disappointment. On paper, it had the potential to be a stand-up war between two quality fighters.
Perhaps there was too much respect between them. Whatever the reason, it was a poor fight.
Howard captured a decision win in a relatively close bout, though it was only close because of the lack of action by each fighter. The win put him back in the UFC win column in his first fight back in some time. He also derailed any remaining hype Hall had.
For Hall, this was the second straight disappointment. That doesn't bode well for his future. He stunned on The Ultimate Fighter, but he continues to fail to perform on the big stage.
No. 5: Michael Johnson vs. Joe Lauzon
If this was a ranking of the best singular performances of the night, Michael Johnson would be near the top of the list. However, a one-sided mugging doesn't earn a top ranking for the best fight.
Johnson's striking was on point. It was quick, accurate and powerful. He battered Joe Lauzon early and hurt him with big combinations. It was apparent early on that Lauzon was in for a long night.
Lauzon failed to make this competitive at any point. He didn't have high offensive output and stood in front of Johnson as he teed off on him. It was a perplexing showing from one of the UFC's most exciting fighters.
Johnson was magnificent, but Lauzon was not. Had Lauzon offered any sort of offense, this may have contended for Fight of the Night.
No. 4: Travis Browne vs. Alistair Overeem
The heavyweights promised to give hard-hitting action, and that is exactly what we got.
Alistair Overeem opened the fight by pressuring Travis Browne and lighting him up, landing big punches and knees. As the flurry of strikes piled up, it looked like Browne was going to lose quickly, but he covered up well.
Browne weathered the storm, and Overeem slowed. That allowed Browne to start throwing high kicks. Eventually, a front kick connected and sent Overeem to the mat. Two hammerfists followed that were academic.
The two enormous heavyweight strikers delivered.
No. 3: Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle
The fight was only 29 seconds long, but it was quite exciting.
Matt Brown's improbable welterweight run continued on Saturday in Boston. He went right after Mike Pyle. And once Pyle was hurt, he finished him. Pyle protested the finish, but only after he woke up from being briefly unconscious.
The manner in which Brown takes it to his opponents makes the fights thrilling. They are firefights. There is a technique to his madness. It is fun to watch, and that's why it ranks as the third-best bout on this list.
It may have stolen the show had it lasted longer than 29 seconds. But that's all the time Brown needed to pick up a bonus check for Knockout of the Night. Fantastic work from a potential top-10 welterweight.
No. 2: Urijah Faber vs. Iuri Alcantara
Iuri Alcantara didn't come to roll over for Urijah Faber.
Alcantara tossed Faber early in the first, and he threatened with submissions. From top position, he made Faber work relentlessly. But the former champion eventually got to his feet, took Alcantara down and went to work with ground-and-pound.
It was the best round of the night and was incredibly fun.
The next two rounds were all Faber. He did what he does best and proved he is the best non-champion bantamweight in the world. He shouldn't be too far off another title shot.
If Alcantara could have kept up his offense, this fight would have been a potential Fight of the Year contender. But Faber's dominance showed through. That's what kept it from being the best of the night.
No. 1: Chael Sonnen vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
This wasn't as lengthy as Faber versus Alcantara, but it ranks ahead of that fight because it was everything you want from a main event. It lived up to the billing, and the fighters went back and forth before a finish came. It was never dull.
Chael Sonnen opened the bout with a quick takedown, but then Mauricio "Shogun" Rua took him down shortly after they got back to their feet.
Eventually, Sonnen got Shogun back to the mat and began to establish positional dominance. He then unexpectedly finished with a guillotine choke.
The veteran stepped up and put a stamp on the event. It was everything you want from your headliners.