Despite being 0-2 in his last two fights inside the octagon, the “American Gangster” Chael Sonnen opened as the slight favorite (-139) against his opponen and former Light Heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, a fight that was originally supposed to take place June 15 when Sonnen offered to step in for Little Nogueira. Visa issues prevented Sonnen from getting into Canada for the event, so the bout was pushed back to this card. It was not until August 08th that Chael Sonnen was licensed to fight “Shogun” on August 17th at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston, Massachusetts.
A license and exemption for testosterone replacement therapty, otherwise known as “TRT,” came much earlier for the “American Gangster” which may be a huge factor in his fight against Rua. Rua has been known to lack the conditioning necessary to last against a fighter with the tenacity of Sonnen, especially in the later rounds.
Sonnen will of course look to utilize his “in your face” fighting style while he looks for any and every chance to get Shogun to the ground and avoid the type of slug fest that Shogun loves and (usually) excels in. Shogun’s guard, while very active and effective, is not built around submissions so much as it is built around getting back to his feet and sweeping his opponent. In fact, the last and only submission victory Shogun has attained in his career was back in 2006. With the lack of threat from the bottom, Sonnen will be able to transition, ground and pound and tire out his opponent who seems to be feeling the effects of multiple knee surgeries and aging.
A finish is not very likely if Chael is to win this fight; Shogun is one of, if not the most durable fighter in MMA today, while Chael is not a high-power striker. Chael is, however, a high volume striker landing 320 strikes on Anderson Silva in their first match. These strikes, while not hard, will take a lot out of the veteran Rua as the “American Gangster” will look for a win, his first at Lightheavyweight in the UFC, to stay relevant in the current UFC roster.
And with a win over Shogun, a man even Sonnen considers a legend:
“There are very few true legends in this sport that are still competing, but this guy is a true legend,” Sonnen said. “He’s had some real wars and some real difficult fights against excellent opponents. And above all, in a sport that’s filled with jerks, I find him refreshing to be around.”
Sonnen will regain his status as a competitor in whichever division he chooses to fight in, whether it be Middleweight or Lightheavyweight. Despite Sonnen being possibly the most prolific character in the UFC’s roster, his desire is to be a contender and champion.