Shogun vs. Sonnen: Keys to Victory in UFC Fight Night 26's Main Event

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2013

Aug 16, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Shogun Rua (left) and Chael Sonnen square off during the weigh-in for their UFC fight at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Fox Sports 1 launches Saturday night with one of the most stacked cards of the year. From top to bottom, the card has main event talent scattered from the prelims to the main attraction.

In the keynote fight, former two-division title challenger Chael Sonnen stops the talking and starts the walking when he fights former light heavyweight champ Mauricio Rua. It is the last stop for Sonnen at light heavyweight, as he will move back to middleweight with a win, loss or draw.

A win for both men is a must at this point. A win for Sonnen would get him back on track and give him some high credentials when he does move back to 185. For Rua, it would put him back on track to move into the title picture. A loss for Shogun would be devastating for his career.

With that, let's take a look at each man's key to victory when the cage door closes and the talking is over.


Sonnen: Grind That Ax, Don't Let Shogun Breathe


Every Sonnen fight has a common theme: takedowns. Chael Sonnen is one of the best wrestlers in MMA and he doesn't hide that once the bell rings.

The biggest weakness of Shogun at this point is his body. He has taken a lot of damage in his career, including in his knees, which have required surgery multiple times.

With that said, Sonnen's trademark double leg takedown is going to be the biggest key for victory. Knowing that Shogun's knees are never going to be 100 percent plays into Sonnen's arsenal perfectly.

Obviously, Sonnen wants to stay away from extended periods on the feet. Shogun may not be the assassin he used to be, but he is still the much better striker.

In conclusion, Sonnen needs to get a grinding win. Ground-and-pound will need to be on display aplenty.


Rua: Take the Base Out From Under Sonnen


Sonnen must wrestle to win. For Shogun, it is quite the opposite. His key to victory rests on him staying upright and battering the brash American.

Rua's gas tank has been suspect as of late, but he doesn't need much to get started. His trademark in his prime was his leg kicks, something he needs to return to against Sonnen.

We all know a way to slow down a shooter is to kick out his base. If you can damage their legs enough, their takedowns will lose power and he will be forced into a striking bout.

When it does turn into a kickboxing match, Rua will have the utmost advantage.  Rua needs to keep the fight up, while Sonnen needs to get it down.