UFC: Boston barnburner on the cards
Chael Sonnen versus the country of Brazil has always been an interesting narrative. Whether the tussle has been with Anderson Silva or mooted bouts with “Lil Nog” and Wanderlei, Sonnen is a wanted man and for good reason. This weekend’s sumptuous main event between the loud mouthed Oregonian and thoroughbred striker Mauricio Rua poses the real prospect of Sonnen being forced to eat his words (again) in front of a worldwide audience.
Sonnen ironically has been relatively quiet in the build up to Boston. His often ill judged barbs at all things Brazilian in the past linger long in the memory especially amongst the proud country’s fighting fraternity.
“Shogun” of course has many more reasons to be fired up for the weekend’s choice encounter. He has never really recovered the momentum lost from his mauling at the hands of “Bones” Jones at UFC 128 and will see an authoritative win over Sonnen as a pre-requisite for a possible final title tilt.
Rua has interspersed wins over the largely irrelevant Forrest Griffin and Brandon Vera with losses to divisional notaries Alex Gustafsson and Dan Henderson since that fateful hammering by Jones back in 2011. What a win over Sonnen would do for the former 205lb champ is debatable. Lets be frank, Sonnen is part of the main event on Saturday night as much for his PR skills as he is for his Octagon mastery. Sonnen versus Rua though should deliver in spades.
The old adage of styles make fights rings true and whilst this isn’t simply a striker versus wrestler match up there are no secrets as to what each protagonist will be looking to do in this one. Sonnen has some of the most explosive takedowns in the sport whilst the former Chute Box stand out is a beast in the stand up realm.
The fact that none other than Freddie Roache has spoken this week of the improvements in power which have accrued as a result of some tweaks he made to Rua’s footwork can only make Sonnen even more eager to get this bout horizontal as soon as possible. The blueprint on how to beat the 37 year old former estate agent is well read at this point. Each round begins on the feet and I simply cannot see the colorful former All-American being able to smother Rua for the entire duration of this fight. Rua to end this emphatically in the second stanza.
The Reem to bounce back from Bigfoot humbling?
Alistair Overeem sauntered into the Mandalay Bay prior to his meeting with “Bigfoot” Silva akin to a “Shameless” extra on his way to the local post office to cash in his giro. Smiling, casual, cocky, he certainly didn’t look like he was about to step into a cage with a seething man mountain who has to squeeze himself into the 265lb heavyweight weight-class.
Fast forward to the business end of the third round and he looked anything but. Overeem is a specimen and has a sublime striking arsenal but over confidence can be his achilles heel. He has been granted a shot at redemption on such a high profile card against Travis Browne because this match-up should deliver pulsating action from the off. Browne is under rated. Athletic and nimble for such a big man he would best the majority of the heavyweight division on his night. His momentum will be halted this weekend though as he is tailor made for the Dutchman. He will find it too tough an ask to take the former K1 champ to the ground and will find his explosive knees and hands too hot to handle. Overeem to get back on track via second round knock out.
McGregor to back up the talk
Conor McGregor has grabbed the attention of the MMA world and he isn’t for getting go. As good on the mic as he is in the cage “Notorious” has been a breath of fresh air since his anticipated promotional debut earlier this year. Having interviewed the straight talking Dubliner I found him confident but retaining a likeability which could thrust him on to great things. The exposure he is receiving is unparalleled for someone with so little cage time in the UFC. He does however appear to be taking the attention in his stride, perhaps even feeding off it. Mentioning Cub Swanson as a potential opponent is testament to how much he believes in his own ability. This Saturday night however presents a considerable obstacle in the wiry form of one Max Holloway.
The Hawaiian youngster has impressed thus far in his embryonic UFC career and I for one believe that he should have got the judges nod in his last outing. He possesses sharp footwork and punishing hands, facts that won’t be lost on McGregor’s cerebral coach John Kavanagh. This bout will be a lot tougher than many are predicting. This one could get fight of the night and whilst I see the surging Dubliner getting his hand raised he will have to survive a few gut check moments to get there.
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