The UFC 161 card coming up in 10 days will be short a Lightheavyweight bout, as the talked about match between late replacement Chael Sonnen and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua has instead been added as the main event for the first UFC on FOX Sports 1 card scheduled for August 17th. The UFC 161 card is a virtual write off, having lost two main card bouts, including the main event, but the UFC is doing the right thing by not rushing Sonnen into a fight with Rua. Letting it build up for a big main event spot on the first FOX Sports card will lead to a better, more exciting fight overall.
Face it, Sonnen on 10 days notice was facing a tall order. Both men are 1-2 in their last 3 fights, and both are in need of a win. Rua was in the midst of a serious training camp as he prepared for a hard fight with Rogerio Noguiera, and fighting Sonnen would have served as added motivation, as Sonnen is particularly unpopular with the Brazilians.
For Sonnen it would have been a paycheck, and a fight where he just has to try hard enough to look decent. Also, 10 days doesn’t give Sonnen or the UFC any real time to build interest in the fight.
Now they can cut Sonnen loose and let the hype begin. Sonnen will have 2 months to prepare. The match for Sonnen now becomes a fight he must win. Losing 3 in a row in the UFC is something no one can really afford to do, so some additional pressure is added. The match no longer looks like Sonnen is stepping in late and doing the UFC a favor to save the show, this is now a normally programmed fight.
Look for ‘Shogun’ to open a favorite when the lines are issued at the sport books. There is the risk of over preparation, as Shogun was nearing the end of his preparation cycle for the fight, and now has an additional eight weeks to manage, however that is unlikely to have a serious affect on ‘Shogun’. ‘Shogun’ gets a chance to be the Brazilian that shuts up the ‘American Gangster’ and that has to feel good!