Seven weeks after being thrashed in the first round against Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen appears to be jumping right back into the octagon. A new report indicates that Sonnen will step in for injured Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on just two weeks notice to battle Shogun Rua at UFC 161.
This is certainly turning into an interesting year for Sonnen and we are only at the halfway mark. Sonnen talked his way into a UFC light heavyweight championship match with Jon Jones in April. Sonnen was brutalized but was only a few seconds away from being declared champion after Jones injured his toe. Sonnen then issued a challenge to Wanderlei Silva but wound up withdrawing it after Wanderlei failed to meet his deadline. Instead it would appear that Sonnen will wind up fighting another Brazilian, Mauricio Rua.
Sonnen immediately volunteered himself for the fight when news broke of Nogueira’s injury. There was a delay in officially announcing the fight although Globo did report the fight as signed on Monday afternoon. It does now appear that the fight is ready to go and will serve as part of the main-card at UFC 161.
Twitter went crazy with all kinds of predictions in favor of Rua. Most believe that Sonnen won’t be able to hang with Rua after a long layoff with little training. I disagree. I think that some MMA fans are still in denial about Mauricio Rua’s decline in recent years. Don’t get me wrong, Rua was an animal back in the Pride days but those days are over. I’ll take Sonnen on two months or two weeks training over Rua any day of the week.
It is easy to dismiss Sonnen as a blow-hard after being brutalized in his last two fights. The record says one thing but a look at the big picture says something else. Sonnen was fighting the two best fighters in all of MMA, maybe the two best ever! He won one round against Anderson Silva and went toe-to-toe with Jones, almost winning on a fluke. 99% of the fighters in the UFC would have the same results if they fought Silva and Jones back to back. I’m not exactly ready to call a guy’s career over after being beaten by the two best in the sport.
Rua on the other hand has been a shell of his old self in recent fights. Rua is 3-3 in his last six, 1-2 in his last three. Rua struggled with Brandon Vera and lost his last fight to Alexander Gustfaffson. In addition to his sluggish recent performance, he has had numerous knee surgeries in recent years. I’ll take the Sonnen who won a round against Anderson Silva over the guy who struggled against Brandon Vera any day of the week.
Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson should give Chael a cut because they were looking at a pathetic buyrate before Sonnen stepped up.
UPDATE: The fight has been cancelled & will likely move to the UFC on FS1 card.
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