Just when you thought the UFC was over the injury bug that hit it hard last year, injuries are starting to affect the lineup again in 2013. The UFC 161 event scheduled for June 15th in Winnipeg had already lost it’s Renan Barao vs Eddie Wineland Featherweight Title bout main event, and now it has lost a second fight on the main card as Rogerio Noguiera has been forced to pull out of his match with Mauricio Rua. And just when you thought we might finally be getting a breather from the ‘Chael Sonnen show’, the wrestler has already let it be known that he is ready to step in.
Chael Sonnen vs Rua will be the fight, it is a practical certainty. The fact is that fighting Mauricio Rua, no matter how diminished he is, is not a joke. Many low level fighters would take the fight with Rua on short notice as an opportunity, but you can’t just stick anyone in there with Rua. Rua is an attraction, and he needs opponents who will excite the fans. People who fall in that category are unlikely to accept a match with Rua with less than two weeks to prepare.
In comes Chael. His resume is full of big names and he is a danger to anyone who takes him lightly. Sonnen sort of talked his way into the Jon Jones title fight, and he will talk himself into this fight, the UFC has very little choice.
Rua has been fighting at the top level of the division for a long time, but he has gone 2-3 in his last five outings, and he has fought several wars in that span, and he has looked increasingly flat and unable to summon that extra burst that made his striking dangerous.
Sonnen will be under some pressure, so he deserves a great deal of creit for taking the risk. He is risking a third loss in a row, something that could lead to a cut or at the very least, a reconfiguring of his wages (a paycut).
It will be an interesting match to set a line on, with Rua probably opening the favorite. This time, if you are betting Chael, he will be a much closer underdog than in his last outing.