Sonnen vs. Evans: Breaking Down UFC 167's Co-Main Event

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2013

Nov 15, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chail Sonnen participates in the official weigh-in of UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

When Chael Sonnen (29–13–1) squares off against Rashad Evans (19–3–1) in UFC 167’s co-main event, the bout will steal the show and win the Fight of the Night Award.

These fighters are both long-time UFC competitors that have built a reputation as two of the most dangerous light heavyweights in the sport today. Each man is coming off a win, but has struggled overall recently.

This marquee matchup at Saturday's pay-per-view will result in a momentum-shifting win for one of these challengers.

Here is all the vital viewing information for Saturday’s PPV, and a full breakdown of what Sonnen and Evans must achieve to walk out of the Octagon victorious.


Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas

When: Saturday, November 16 at 10 p.m. ET

Watch: Pay-Per-View (call local service provider)

Live Stream: UFC TV


Rashad Evans’ Keys to Victory

Rashad Evans is known for his wrestling ability and his powerful striking, and he must lean on those strengths against a veteran fighter like Sonnen that has seen it all before. Instead of focusing on trying to take down Sonnen, Evans should be looking to counter his shoot attempts and turn them into offense by landing well-placed knees or punches to the head.

Evans has the distinct power advantage in this fight, and he must showcase that edge standing up and on the ground to ensure he walks out of this matchup with a victory.

Sonnen and Evans are two of the best wrestlers in the division. Grappling is usually the key to each of these fighters’ victories, but with these two competitors being so well-versed on the ground, this will be a stalemate.

After being defeated by Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title and falling to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his subsequent bout, Evans lost all of the momentum he had built during the four-fight winning streak leading into the matchup for the championship. He has gained some of his momentum back with a win over Dan Henderson, but the split-decision outcome discounted the work Evans had put into that fight.

Evans must find the confidence in the power behind his striking again or risk falling victim to Sonnen and his submission abilities.


Chael Sonnen’s Keys to Victory

As a former NCAA All-American wrestler, Sonnen matches up perfectly in the wrestling aspects of this fight with Evans. The stalemate on the ground will force Sonnen to reach into his bag of tricks and pull out one of his submission moves.

Sonnen must focus on getting the fight to the mat and secure the top mount. His unique mixture of striking and submissions will leave Evans in a vulnerable position on the bottom. If Evans fails to cover his head or leaves his arm too far away from his body, Sonnen will take advantage and finish the fight early.

Even if Evans gains the top mount position, look for Sonnen to hunt for the triangle choke.

Sonnen is coming off a huge submission victory over Mauricio Rua, and another possible win over Evans couldn’t come at a better time. The two previous losses to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones respectively had led many to assume his time contending for a championship was over.

That couldn't be farther from the truth. Evans is a serious light heavyweight contender and beating him would prove Sonnen deserves at least a title eliminator fight next.

The challenger may have the more powerful strikes, but Sonnen will realize he must limit the impact of Evans’ punches by shooting for the takedown and looking for a submission.


Predicted Winner: Evans via Second-Round TKO

One of the best parts of watching MMA is when two fighters come into a battle with the same primary skill. Evans and Sonnen are great wrestlers, but with both men so evenly matched, the difference maker will be the other skills each possesses.

Sonnen deserves an immense amount of credit for his ability to submit a fighter like Rua in his previous fight, but Evans is a much smarter fighter than the Brazilian. He knows when he is being baited into a submission and will avoid Sonnen’s traps.

Evans will keep the fight standing up by thwarting Sonnen’s takedown attempts and will use his powerful striking to alter his opponent’s game plan and leave him guessing.

If these two brawlers stand toe-to-toe and exchange punches, the power advantage for Evans will be the deciding factor.

With Sonnen knocked out in two of his last three fights, Evans will be looking to end this bout with a flurry of punches and a TKO victory.