Chael Sonnen vs. Rashad Evans: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Shortly after Chael Sonnen’s win over former two-time world champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC Fight Night 26, the Oregon native was called out by another former world champion, Wanderlei Silva.
In a video released by Silva, the impassioned Brazilian was adamant about giving Sonnen a “beating.” He stated:
Sonnen, I will punch your face in...I will make you swallow your teeth, you loser...I will go in to show Sonnen what happens when someone disrespects our nation...You (Sonnen) will get a beating...I will hurt you. I will break your nose with my knee. From there, you will go straight to the surgeon to fix your nose. I will break your nose in this fight.
However, Silva recently became injured and, according to UFC president Dana White, would not be cleared to fight until early next year. Therefore, on September 4, 2013, Sonnen agreed to fight former 205-pound champion and fellow FOX Sports analyst Rashad Evans at UFC 167. The event will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on November 16, 2013.
Evans is coming off a significant win over former three-time world champion Dan Henderson. Currently, the New York native is the UFC’s No. 5 light heavyweight contender. A win over Evans would more than likely catapult Sonnen (No. 9) to the top of his division.
Here's a head-to-toe breakdown of the upcoming fight.
Sonnen is not renowned for his striking power. The last time the Oregon native recorded a knockout occurred six years ago against Kyacey Uscola. Since then, all his wins have come by way of submission or decision.
Evans has recorded six career knockouts, the last of which transpired two years ago. In fact, 10 of Evans’ 18 professional wins have come by way of decision. Percentage wise, Evans boasts a 33-percent knockout rate to Sonnen’s 25. Given the combatants’ other strengths, it is unlikely that the bout between the two fighters will end due to strikes.
Advantage: Rashad Evans
Evans has only recorded two professional submissions. However, the former college wrestler is methodical in his approach to fighting and careful when engaging his opponents.
His grappling is controlled and his takedowns swift. He was even successful in taking down and maintaining control over the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler Phil Davis, handing the Pennsylvania native his first loss.
However, the majority of Evans’ wins (55 percent per Sherdog) have come through the judges’ favor. Despite his grappling prowess, the former champion has lost two of his last three fights and has recently lacked the killer instinct needed to defeat a formidable opponent such as Sonnen.
Evans' opponent, on the other hand, is a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler. Sonnen sports a submission-finishing rate of almost 60 percent. In fact, he is known for his takedown to the ground-and-pound style of fighting. He enjoys smothering his opponents with his wrestling and grinds out significant wins by doing so. The Oregon native has even stifled former world champions, such as Anderson Silva and Shogun Rua, with his style of fighting.
Just as Rashad Evans did against Davis in their meeting at UFC on Fox 2, Sonnen is more than capable of winning in similar fashion—by taking down “Suga” and grinding out another win by decision.
Advantage: Chael Sonnen
The X-Factor: Experience
Experience is the most significant factor separating Sonnen and Evans. The latter’s most recent win came against multiple-time world champion Henderson. At UFC 161, both fighters fought cautiously, which rendered their bout uneventful. However, the victory moved Evans to the top five in his division.
Although Sonnen barely rounds out the UFC’s top-10 light heavyweight list, he has fought a total of 43 matches—just about double the amount of fights as Evans. In addition, the “American Gangster” has faced numerous current and former world champions as well as perennial contenders including: Shogun Rua, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Michael Bisping, Yushin Okami, Demian Maia, Paulo Filho, Renato Sobral and Forrest Griffin.
Sonnen’s mixed martial arts experience is vast and will most likely play to his advantage in his matchup against Evans. At 36 years old, defeating his wrestling counterpart, who is also the No. 5 light heavyweight in the world, would also serve to keep the American Gangster relevant.
Both fighters are coming off noteworthy victories, and as Jones’ plans to move to the heavyweight division become a reality, a title shot for the winner of this prolific bout may be up for grabs.
Advantage: Chael Sonnen