EDITORIAL | The Monday Morning Aftermath: UFC Fight Night 26 Edition
| Coming out of this past weekend we have a lot to discuss about the shifting of rankings and surprising fights that took place at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston on the debut show on FOX Sports 1. In the main event we saw Chael Sonnen defeat Mauricio Shogun Rua in the very first round via guillotine choke. That shocked many MMA fans and will likely shake up the future 205 pound UFC rankings and matchups. Saturday also gave us a great scrap between Urijah Faber and Yuri Alcantara and we witnessed the surging Matt Brown take one step closer to a title shot as he knocked out Mike Pyle in just :29 seconds of the fight.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg of big news that will shake the MMA circles this week. Here are some of the things we will be keeping our eyes on following this past weekend’s fights.
First, let’s take a look at what the Sonnen win over Shogun has done to the UFC light heavyweight division.
Sonnen needed a win, coming into last weekend’s bout with Shogun riding the heels of two consecutive title fight losses (Silva at 185 and Jones at 205), and could have found himself in a tough spot if he would have dropped the bout to Rua. However, that didn’t happen. Instead, Sonnen came out and smothered Rua from the opening bell until the fight was stopped in the final seconds of the first round. Sonnen used his wrestling skills to toss Shogun to the ground, grind on him for the majority of the round, and then lock onto a guillotine that made the former UFC and PRIDE Champion tap out.
Many people had begun to write Sonnen off after losing the two title fights in a row but Chael came out and proved all of those haters wrong. He is far from done and his dominating win over Shogun has launched him back up to the top tier of contenders. Now the big question is, will Sonnen stay at 205 or will he drop back down to 185 now that his longtime nemesis of Anderson Silva is no longer the champion at that weight? This is the hottest topic circling the aftermath of UFC Fight Night 26. There are several appealing matchups for Sonnen at 205 pounds, including possible fights with Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, and the one that Chael has already stated that he wants, a fight with Wanderlei Silva. Every single one of those fights strikes intrigue in me, and I’m assuming that the UFC feels the same way about them. But only time can tell what happens next for Sonnen. He could possibly drop back down to 185 and again try to work his way into the title hunt, but it just seems to me that 205 has much more to offer him at this point. We’ll keep you posted on all the breaking news surrounding Chael Sonnen.
As for his opponent on the losing end, Shogun Rua, he now finds himself in a must-win position heading into his next fight. He has now lost three of his last four fights and is not likely going to ever see another title shot in his career. The reality, though, is that Rua is a legend of the sport with a huge name that can still draw a lot of viewers. With that being said, we can assume that he probably won’t get anyone in the top 5 or maybe even top 10, but in the UFC there is talent at every tier of competition and Shogun could still put on some fun fights for the fans. Some names that pop right into mind are Gergard Mousasi, Thiago Silva, Ryan Bader, or maybe even Ovince St. Preux, who is coming off of a vicious KO win this past Saturday. There are still options for Shogun, it just seems that until he can get another win under his belt the top 5, maybe even 10, could be off limits for the time being. We’ll also be keeping an eye on what the UFC does with Shogun next as well.
Now let’s move to the bantamweight division. Urijah Faber and Yuri Alcantara put on an amazing show in Boston. We already know that Faber is the top level of competition, so the fact that he got the win did not really do much to where he sits in the divisional rankings. He’s been a steady number one contender for some time now but has already lost to Dom Cruz and Renan Barao, so unless he gets another crack at the belt (which he might be deserving of at this point) I don’t see what another fight against a lower ranked fighter does for him. Yuri had him in trouble early in the fight but Faber’s veteran poise and skill helped him survive the early storm and go on to a dominant decision win. I think Faber should get another title shot, a fight with Michael McDonald (who also put on a fantastic performance in Boston), or possibly move back up to featherweight to sign on to some intriguing fights at that weight, including a possible matchup with Frankie Edgar, just to name one. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Faber’s next move.
I was honestly more impressed with Alcantara in that fight against Faber, thoguh. Not to take anything away from Faber, but he was supposed to win that fight and he did, but Yuri gave him a battle in the opening round. I hadn’t seen Faber in that kind of trouble in a long time; even in his title fight losses. It will be very interesting to see what the UFC decides to do with Alcantara next, considering that he is not even ranked in the top 10 at this point. I think he posses a ton of threats to every single fighter in the top 10 and the possibilities are limitless with this kid. I really feel that, even though he lost, his ranking will rise following his performance in Boston this past weekend. Alcantara is another one that we will be keeping a very close eye on.
Let us now take a look at the heavyweight division. UFC Fight Night 26 gave us a shocking outcome when we saw Travis Browne KO Alistair Overeem after treading out of deep, dangerous water with the Dutch striker. In the first round Overeem was taking it to Browne, landing devastating knees to “Hapa” and then following up with a brutal barrage of punches. However, Browne survived and Overeem gassed. Minutes later Browne nailed Overeem with a front-kick directly up the pipe that landed flush on the chin of “The Reem” and put him out. “Hapa” followed but with two hammer-fists that landed clean and stopped the fight.
This was a huge upset, although many people had a feeling Browne could pull off the win regarless of the credentials that Overeem entered the fight with. I don’t know if this is bigger news for Overeem or Browne. Let’s look at Overeem first: This is his second KO loss in a row his chances at ever getting a shot at UFC gold seem to be dwindling very quickly. Another loss for “Reem” could be the end of his UFC career and the highly regarded striker has not lived up to his hype since entering the UFC. He’s faced controversy with drug testing and now cannot find a win to add to his record. So now Overeem will likely face another top 10 opponent but it will be at the lower end of the 10 and if he cannot pull out a victory he may find himself unemployed. Possible matchups for Overeem next include Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Josh Barnett, or Stipe Miocic. We’ll keep you updated on news regarding “The Reem”.
Travis Browne has escalated himself into the top of the heavyweight division with the win over Alistair. Overeem was a top 5 fighter division and he finished him in the first round, after fighting out of a huge hole early in the frame. So, to me, Browne deserves a top 5 name in his next fight. He is now 15-1-1 in his career with his only loss to Antonio Silva, who just fought for the heavyweight strap. Possible matchups for “Hapa” include Fabricio Werdum, Daniel Cormier, or even a rematch with Antonio Silva. Many of the top heavyweights are already scheduled for bouts so “Hapa” may have to wait a little while to see what’s next for him but as soon as we find out we’ll let everyone here at BJPenn.com know.
The night was filled with outstanding fights and explosive action. There was so much that happened that it’s hard to touch on it all but here are some of the other highlights I feel are worthy of mentioning:
- Conor McGregor put in nice work against a tough Max Holloway in their featherweight fight. McGregor is one of the most highly-hyped fighters we’ve seen in a long time and with the impressive win over Holloway the Irish fighter is now 2-0 in the UFC and will unquestionably draw a top 10, maybe even a top 5 fighter in the UFC featherweight division. A few names that come to mind are Dennis Siver, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar, and Cub Swanson. We have not seen McGregor fight a top-tier wrestler yet so a fight against Edgar or Mendes might show us a little more about the Irish phenom. A win against a top 5 opponent could earn him a title fight following his next bout. Keep your eyes locked on this kid.
- Matt Brown knocked out former WEC Champ, Mike Pyle, in less than 30 seconds in their welterweight bout in Boston. Brown is now 6-0 in his last 6 fights and is clearly on the cusp of a title fight. Many people have leery about giving Brown a top ranking in the division but after this win over Pyle he can no longer be denied. He is likely one more win away from a title fight, if he draws a top 5 name in his next fight. here are some of the names that might be an appealing fight for Brown and the fans: Rory MacDonald (since he still refuses to fight GSP), Jake Ellenberger, Tarec Saffiedine, Nick Diaz, or, the one that looks most appealing to me, Robbie Lawler. Keep your eyes locked on Brown…a couple wins over top 10 fighters could get him a title shot.
- Steven Siler left Boston riding high after notching a first round KO of longtime MMA staple and former WEC champion, Mike Brown. The former TUF competitor moved his UFC record to 5-1 and is now riding a 2 fight win streak. He’s not the biggest name but his record will likely draw him another big name in the UFC featherweight division. Siler looked good on his feet, landing precise punches to put Brown away early. The way he won the fight is what impressed me and I’d like to see him get a top 10 featherweight in his next bout. I’d like to see him draw someone like Erik Koch, Dennis Siver, or Clay Guida. We’ll be keeping an eye on Siler and what the UFC wants to do with him next.
- Former #1 contender Michael McDonald put on a stellar performance to remind the fans of how great he really is. Coming off of his title fight loss to Renan Barao, McDonald went to work and destroyed Brad Pickett on his way to a triangle-choke victory in the second round. Before he put Pickett away with the choke, though, McDonald had Brad in tons of trouble, dropping him a couple different times with strikes. This fight solidified McDonald’s spot atop the UFC bantamweight division and he will likely get another top-ranked opponent, such as Uriah Faber, Eddie Wineland or TJ Dillashaw. We’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on McDonald, as he was overly impressive this weekend completely ran through a very tough Brad Pickett. We’ll see what the UFC does with him next.
And that concludes this segment of BJPenn.com’s Monday Morning Aftermath. Stay glued to BJPenn.com to get all the breaking news and updates regarding all of the fighters discussed above. To another great week of MMA action: Cheers, fight fans.