COMMENTARY | On Saturday, August 17, 2013, at UFC Fight Night 26, the "American Gangster" Chael Sonnen shocked the mixed martial arts world by submitting a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and former light heavyweight world champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Leading up to his fight against Rua, Sonnen was set on moving back down to the middleweight division. However, with such a spectacular first round finish over the two-time world champion, it appears that Sonnen may have had a change of heart.
At the UFC Fight Night 26 post-fight conference, when asked of his intentions to drop down to the 185-pound division, the American Gangster stated, "That was the plan, but let me stick around Boston a couple of days. I'm gonna get over to a place called Regina's Pizza before we get out to 'UFC Tonight' on FS1 on Wednesday."
Less comically, regarding Sonnen's options moving forward, UFC president Dana White gave light to various opportunities that currently surround the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler. White stated:
"There's a lot of options right now at 205. He could fight there. He could fight at 185, 'cause obviously the media had him ranked No. 8 or nine at 185 underneath guys that he actually beat. So, obviously a win over Shogun puts him in a great place at 205. It puts him at a great place at 185."
Rua, on the other hand, faced a career defining loss on August 17. The Brazilian was defeated by a man who has spent the majority of his career at middleweight, and whose overall skill set and MMA accomplishments pale in comparison to his own. However, at UFC Fight Night 26, Sonnen's elite wrestling was on full display, which set up the guillotine choke that submitted Rua at four minutes, 47 seconds of the first round.
Since entering the UFC in 2007, Rua has lost more fights than he has won (5-6). He has been involved in several in-Octagon wars that have included the likes of Alexander Gustafsson, Brandon Vera, and Lyoto Machida (I). Rua's battle against Dan Henderson at UFC 139 was nothing less than epic and will not be soon forgotten.
Heading into UFC Fight Night 26, however, Rua was the UFC's No. 8 ranked light heavyweight in the world. If Sonnen chooses to remain a part of the 205-pound division, Rua may be pushed out of the light heavyweight's top-10 rankings, and may only serve as a stepping stone to lower tier fighters wishing to make their name off the Brazilian's already-established legacy.
Following his bout against Sonnen, Rua found himself surprised and befuddled by his own performance. At the UFC Fight Night post-fight conference, through a translator, the Brazilian stated:
"I'm really sad of the lost (sic). Nobody wants to lose when you get there. Tonight, Sonnen is happy, and I'm not. I don't wanna lose. I try my best. I just wanna say that tonight was not my night."
Since his UFC debut six years ago, Rua has put together a winning record that is less than .500. In that, if significant improvements aren't made to his game, the former champion may find himself facing an early retirement or working for another mixed martial arts organization sooner rather than later.
Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in Yahoo! News, Bleacher Report, Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, and Next Step Magazine. Follow him on MMAUnchained.net, Facebook & Twitter @clintonbullock.
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