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UFC Fight Night 26 fight card: What’s at stake?

With the launch of Fox Sports 1, there is both great expectations and no expectations at all. The launch of the channel is an important moment in sports media and television broadcast history, but with any experiment this new and large-scale, no one really knows what to expect. Some efforts will work. Others will fail miserably. Benchmarks for success will take time to establish. All the UFC and the channel can do is put their best foot forward at the moment of take off.

Generally speaking, they’ve done that here. The main event is bizarre and something of a non-sequitur, but the fight card itself is highly commendable. No one knows how the evening can go, but all the UFC can do is put talented fighters in bouts of consequence and hope they produce what fans, television execs and other interested parties are looking for. There’s only so much engineering allowed. Much of the success is luck. In terms of what the UFC can control, they’ve done a very commendable job.


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There is going to be river of sane and inane questions about this fight card, television channel, partnership and more after Saturday. What will the ratings be? Was the broadcast quality up to par? Is the UFC going to be able to be a programming lynchpin for the channel in the days, weeks and months ahead? The answer is ‘who knows?’. It’s almost ‘who cares?’. The effort has long been underway and the relevant parties have done (basically) everything they could ahead of the station’s launch. Everything that’s left is in the hands of fate.

Star-divide

Mauricio Rua vs. Chael Sonnen

At stake: looking too old to make fans care. There really isn’t much more to this bout other than the risk both fighters run in demonstrating the corrosive effects of age on athletic ability and performance. Sure, an impressive victory or respectable defeat can later be sold to the public as evidence of viability. If either fighter is able to shine, the UFC would gladly leverage whatever enthusiasm that generated. But the reality is neither fighter is in their prime. Shogun is fighting through what should be and partly are debilitating injuries. While it’s hard to look good against Jon Jones, Sonnen appears to be noticeably slower than he was just a few years ago.

With Sonnen headed to middleweight win, lose or draw on Saturday, the biggest risk this fight poses is that the loser (and even the victor) will look ineffectual enough to dampen interest in their future fights. It’s highly unlikely either will ever contend for a title again (at least on meritorious grounds), but there’s still room for them to do what they’re doing on this card: headline. That is unless they look like sluggish, old facsimiles of their former selves. Given how they’ve appeared recently, that is not an idle concern.

Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne

At stake: heavyweight contendership. This fight has the most intriguing stakes of them all. Overeem is facing the possibility of being labeled as one of the UFC’s most spectacular busts. From the elevated levels of T:E post-Brock Lesnar to being savagely dispatched by the talented-if-limited Antonio Silva, Overeem’s ride has been anything but smooth. A loss to Browne would almost certainly cement his place as one of the most sought after acquisitions whose UFC run went disastrously bad. Yet, there is still hope and belief in the Dutch heavyweight. Browne isn’t necessarily the division’s biggest potential scalp, but a win – particularly a punishing one many believe Overeem is capable of delivering – gets him back on track. In a weight class where one or two wins are enough to earn title shots, getting past Browne could be hugely rewarding.

As for the Greg Jackson product, he has less to lose here. There’s long been some hope for his career, but he’s yet to turn in a victory over an opponent where he demonstrated he had turned a corner and was ready for the division’s elite. Overeem, for better or worse, is still regarded by most to be one of MMA’s elite heavyweights. Browne would be earning the signature victory of his career and likely catapulting his profile or image if he can defy the odds Saturday. A loss, however, could once and for all position Browne as a fighter not capable of tangling with top-tier talent.

Urijah Faber vs. Yuri Alcantara

At stake: the Renan Barao-Dominick Cruz sweepstakes. Everyone knows it: Urijah Faber is never far away from a title shot and for very good reasons. He’s marketable, there’s a rivalry between he and Cruz and most importantly, he’s arguably better than just about any other bantamweight (other than Barao). Whatever his shortcomings against the division’s two best, he’s never run over by them and always manages to keep winning long enough to hang around when the opportunity arises.

That’s why this Alcantara fight is interesting. The Brazilian didn’t look great against Hacran Dias, but he also has one of the most underrated resumes in all of the UFC. Should Faber emerge victorious, there’s plenty of reasons to offer him a title shot at some point in the near future. And because Faber is in that position, Alcantara can leap frog the California Kid if the bout goes his way. Because Alcantara isn’t the fan favorite Faber is, he may have to cobble together more wins to claim any title shot. That’s especially true if he’s asked to compete in the U.S. over his home country. The key consideration here is that despite the gap in popularity, both fighters have almost just as much to gain.

Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle

At stake: keeping the momentum alive. Both Brown and Pyle are on the best streaks of their careers. While we can’t ever be sure, it seems reasonable to conclude neither is likely to replicate the success they’ve had with a similar run should either lose. That’s precisely what makes their current predicaments unique. We cannot chalk them up to luck, but we must also recognize what makes them special is how difficult they are to produce. Once they’ve been stopped, reproducing them is going to prove exceedingly difficult. That’s even more true given the relatively late age of both competitors.

The reality is a win over either fighter won’t lead to a title shot, but it could produce a subsequent bout the most important of their career. Both fighters have faced top-ranked opponents, but neither can claim to have done so as equals at the stage of their meeting with the kind of resume they can now boast.

It’s hard to say precisely what a win could lead to, but one can basically be certain it will mean facing a top-10 ranked opponent (maybe even top 5). It will mean placement near the top of the card. It will also be something relatively transcendent for their careers. Both fighters have struggled at the top and by hook or by crook, seem to have righted the ship. This is their time to make the most of their MMA career. And that means for one, that dream likely dies on Saturday. For the other, they can continue the amazing push to greener and greener pastures, having finally earned the placement, respect and adoration that has been very hard to come by.

Uriah Hall vs. John Howard

At stake: the path to dreams deferred. There’s obviously a strong hope for Hall despite him falling short against Kevin Gastelum. What UFC brass are likely hoping for Hall is the ability to rebound and, if possible, trout out his trademark display of dazzling violence. For a wide array of reasons, Hall becoming a legitimate contender would be hugely beneficial to the organization. But even with a victory over Howard, those days are still very far away. For the time being, he needs to win, but as aforementioned, he can punch his ticket to bigger shows, better card placement and more meaningful opponents if he’s able to utilize his Cirque du Soleil-esque array of strikes.

While I’m certain Howard wants to make the most of his UFC return and therefore win long enough to stay, he’s in a relatively advantageous position. There might be some hometown pressures given the show is in Boston. He is also likely expecting a lot out of himself. Fairly or not, however, few expect him to win. Not only can he reassert himself with a win, but doing so against an opponent some suggest could float atop the division would be the ultimate (no pun intended) in MMA victories.

Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Johnson

At stake: respectable card placement, if not employment. Lauzon’s job isn’t in jeopardy and it could take more than a loss here to move him into a status where he’s hovering between main and preliminary card placement. Still, a loss to Johnson would represent Lauzon’s worst defeat. Johnson is more than a credible fighter, but Lauzon has arguably never lost in the UFC to a fighter whose accomplishments and record are as mixed as the Blackzillian’s. Yet, Johnson’s position is not safe. Obviously defeating Lauzon would be a major coup for the Floridian, but a loss is not something he’ll be able to write off as a day that simply wasn’t his. A loss would be his third in a row and while not necessarily a death sentence for UFC employment, he certainly wouldn’t be serving his long or short-term interests with the organization.

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Conor McGregor vs Max Holloway: UFC Fight Night 26 ‘Fight of the Night’ early pick

Two Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight up-and-comers are poised to bring the noise later tonight (Sat., Aug. 17, 2013) in Boston, Mass., when “Notorious” Conor McGregor takes on the talented Hawaiian, “Blessed” Max Holloway.

These two 145-pound standouts are known for their striking skills, and their UFC Fight Night 26 clash on the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” under card will definitely wow those in the audience at TD Bank Garden.

McGregor was put the division on notice moments after his debut fight against Marcus Brimage, a one-round drubbing that demonstrated the Irishman’s potential, as well as his smooth — yet violent — jaw-dropping approach to striking.

The mixed martial arts (MMA) game of “Notorious” is truly something special, and even at an early stage in his career, some fans are calling him one of the next big things in the UFC. His striking is incredibly fluid and composed, while still being potent and diverse. McGregor tends to fight out of the southpaw stance, using expertly-created angles to deliver massive power strikes that can come from any part of any limb.

In addition to his aggressive, technical striking, McGregor also attacks occasionally with superfluous techniques such as spinning strikes and even more. These work to his benefit by making him very unpredictable and ultimately posses fight-finishing power in their own right.

Holloway, meanwhile, is a scrappy young Hawaiian who also sports a dynamic and effective striking game. His fights in the Octagon to date have been fairly impressive for a young man of his age, 21, compiled a 3-2 record with respectable efforts in his two losses, especially in his controversial split-decision loss to Dennis Bermudez in his last outing.

“Blessed” boasts a tall, lanky frame for a Featherweight, standing 5’11,” which is three inches taller than McGregor. In his recent outings, Holloway has shown to be much more proficient at utilizing his long frame to pop an autoritative jab, one that keeps distance well and sets up his other strikes. His kicking game is also quite honed — he has become very good at mixing in kicks to the legs, body and head in his combinations.

In Holloway, we see a young fighter who is really coming into his own as a durable, high-paced striker. He has shown that he can take some very hard shots and keep on going. He has also shown that he can dish out some serious damage, too. From fight to fight, he has become much more honed. And while his style can occasionally be wild, it still remains effective unless he becomes fatigued.

This fight will get interesting if it drags into the later rounds. In the first round, both men will look to get deliver some slight damage to set up their fight-finishing blows; however, knowing each man’s durability and fighting spirit, it is hard to believe it will end that quickly. There is a definitive edge in fight-ending power for McGregor, but it isn’t so massive that he’ll do away with Holloway like he did in his last outing against Brimage.

With Holloway taking this fight on short notice, he will need to play a more technical game, unless his cardio is ready to hold up for three hard fought rounds. This means a precise, reserved gameplan would probably suit him best. That said, he will have to keep a high pace and a lot of pop on his punches, lest he condemns himself to the living death that is allowing McGregor to cut angles for counters.

UFC Fight Night 26 is filled with potential amazing match ups from bottom to top. However, the clash between McGregor and Holloway is the most reliable as a great, hard-fought battle. Each man can — and is more than willing to — potentially put the other away early. Even if they don’t, it still has all the ingredients to be a knock-down, drag-out showdown that sees both men battered, bloodied and bruised (but not beaten) until the final bell.

In other words, expect a firefight between two solid up-and-comers, Conor McGregor vs. Max Holloway, later tonight.

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Conor McGregor Ignoring Hype Ahead of UFC Fight Night 26 Clash with Max Holloway

Conor McGregor has simple tastes.
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UFC Fight Night 26 weigh-in video

At the UFC Fight Night 26 weigh-ins, all 26 fighters taking part in Friday night’s UFC Fight Night 26 card will step on the scale Friday evening, and we’ll have the live video here at MMAFighting.com.

In the main event, Shogun Rua and Chael Sonnen will have to make the light heavyweight limit of 205 pounds.

The UFC Fight Night 26 weigh-in takes place at 4 p.m. ET at the TD Garden in Boston, and the video is above.


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UFC Fight Night 26 Results: Shogun vs. Sonnen

MMA Fighting has UFC Fight Night 26 results for the Shogun vs. Sonnen fight card Aug. 17, plus live UFC coverage from Boston, live blogs of all the fights and live UFC on Fight Night 26 twitter updates.

In the main event, former UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua will square off against Chael Sonnen. In the co-main event, Alistair Overeem will face Travis Browne.

Check out UFC Fight Night 26 results below.

Main Card (FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET)

Mauricio Rua vs. Chael Sonnen
Alistair Overeem vs. Travis Browne
Urijah Faber vs. Iuri Alcantara
Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle
Uriah Hall vs. John Howard
Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Johnson

Undercard (FOX Sports 1 at 6 p.m. ET)

Brad Pickett vs. Michael McDonald
Conor McGregor vs. Max Holloway
Mike Brown vs. Steven Siler
Diego Brandao vs. Daniel Pineda

Undercard (Facebook at 4:30 p.m. ET)
Manvel Gamburyan vs. Cole Miller
Cody Donovan vs. Ovince St. Preux
Ramsey Nijem vs. James Vick

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UFC Fight Night 26 weigh-ins: Shogun vs. Sonnen

BOSTON — Shogun Rua and Chael Sonnen both made weight at the UFC Fight Night 26 weigh-ins Friday evening. Check out the video above for the top two fights on the card, and the Conor McGregor vs. Max Holloway one, above.

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UFC Fight Night 26: Prelim Preview

Saturday night’s fight card looks sure to deliver on paper! Top to bottom, we have some exciting matchups to look forward to. The injury bit a chunk out of this card, but somehow we ended up with matchups that look almost equally as exciting. The UFC must have had a small backup roster ready for […]

The post UFC Fight Night 26: Prelim Preview appeared first on Caged Insider.

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Winner’s Circle: What victory means for UFC Fight Night 26′s featured fighters

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to TD Bank Garden in Boston, Mass., tomorrow night (Sat., Aug. 17, 2013) for the first time since 2010, featuring a highly anticipated mixed martial arts (MMA) match up between two Light Heavyweight standouts with their respective careers hanging in the balance.

Mauricio Rua will take on Chael Sonnen in the UFC Fight Night 26 main event, which is sure to give us a better standing of where they are both heading in their fighting futures. Both men hold only two victories in their past five outings and will look to bounce back in a huge way. Sonnen is coming off two straight defeats in title fights to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, while Rua was humbled by Alexander Gustafsson in Dec. 2012 and has not competed since.

A colossal Heavyweight match up is featured in the co-main event as former DREAM and Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem looks to get back into title contention against the resurgent Travis Browne.

With the majority of this card’s excitement focused on these two bouts, let us look into the near future and map out what a victory on Saturday night might mean for these four combat sports stars.

Here we go:

Chael Sonnen:

In simplest form, Sonnen needs a win to convince the fandom he is still relevant in the sport. Is that a harsh assessment? Perhaps, but Sonnen’s last two defeats saw him lose in two straight title bouts (the last which he barely earned) in two different divisions, has lost three out of his past five fights and is an aging fighter with no real distinction of where his career is headed after “Shogun” on Saturday night.

Sonnen has said he’s always looking past opponents — hence his verbal jabs aimed at Wanderlei Silva who he is giving more attention to rather than his opponent. Although Sonnen has trashed just about everyone on the scale from bantamweights to heavyweights in the past, his focus on “The Axe Murderer” raises an interesting question:

If Sonnen loses at UFC Fight Night 26, is he already marketing himself to stay important by building up a fight with Silva and covering his tracks at the same time?

His mouthing off should always be taken with a grain of salt, but a win over the former Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix winner and former UFC 205-pound champion would be a satisfactory effort to keep the career of the West Linn, Ore., “gangster” intact.

Sonnen could capitalize on Rua’s lack of takedown defense and look more impressive that anyone would give him credit for by utilizing the same gameplan over and over again during the course of his time in the UFC. If he beats Rua, he’s already booked a match with “The Axe Murderer” in his mind, but that match would eventually happen if he is on the receiving end of a loss as well. Who knows? If he wins, maybe Sonnen’s deal would “expire” (like it did with Anderson Silva after UFC 136) and move onto greener pastures (perhaps Vitor Belfort), giving a potential, but for the moment unconvincing, title run one more go.

However, he really needs the victory over Rua for many in the sport to continue to take him seriously.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua:

Rua’s inconsistency as of late has not tarnished his reputation since he is still regarded as one of the better light heavyweights in MMA today. His track record speaks for itself: Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell, Alistair Overeem and Quinton Jackson (twice) have all succumbed to the former Chute Boxe great; however, there’s a slight chance his time as a legitimate threat to the title may be winding down. In his last outing, he was outmatched by a younger, faster and at times more powerful Gustafsson.

And it forces us to think the changing of the guard in MMA is more true than not.

Although the name “Shogun” is synonymous with intrigue popularity for the average combat sports fan, he still has the widespread appeal to gain attraction in just about any fight he places himself into. His last five wins were a combined mixture of flat knockouts and technical knockouts so he still has the power to finish a fight and get the people talking about him afterward. Being an exciting fighter pays dividends and luckily for “Shogun,” he’s always been known for his entertaining performances and brutally violent fight style.

A victory over the always-gritty and durable Sonnen would be quite impressive. The Brazilian is marked as the underdog in this fight and would hold a victory over a legitimate opponent who could cause him a lot of trouble on the ground. A win over Sonnen would guarantee “Shogun” another big fight against a credible opponent who may be a Light Heavyweight title challenger, tool. That’s the beauty about being Rua — he only needs one win to turn it around and insert his name on the contenders list.

That being said, if he loses he will need to do a bit of soul searching since he would be 2-4 in his last six bouts and find himself further away from the coveted prize and closer to divisional irrelevance.

Alistair Overeem:

Overeem is a combat sports legend, period. Whether he needs to legitimize his legacy with a UFC belt, his past accomplishments should not be overlooked. However, Overeem is in the biggest fight of his life on Saturday night even though he has more than likely had tougher fights and/or more profiled ones, the bold statement is accurate. A modest version of Overeem has arisen leading up to his pre-fight promotion as he “details overcoming past failures by not being depressed and by bettering himself in the future.”

That is a positively strong outlook, but Overeem knows the time is ticking for expectations to be met.

Overeem is simply missing a UFC title for him to be the most accomplished Heavyweight in the history of the sport. And a win over Browne would not only favor him to be next in line for a title shot, but would also keep the dream — and his career — alive. Although Fabricio Werdum could realistically be the next challenger for the winner of Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos at UFC 166, Overeem can steal the spotlight if he puts on a commendable performance and defeats Browne in emphatic fashion.

His bad blood with dos Santos and a super fight-sized bout with Velasquez could have him leapfrog at the top of the contenders and if Overeem inserts a little bit of trash-talk in his post-fight dialogues, the promotion will not shy away from making the business fight instead of the deserving one.

Hell, we’ve seen that happen too many times.

A win — no matter how it comes — is imperative for Overeem on Saturday night. He needs to continue to ride the hype he had entering the UFC, which had many believing he was the best Heavyweight on the planet until he paid a hefty fine for his arrogance against Antonio Silva and lost via knockout, which also cost him an immediate title shot besides humiliation. His status, not to mention his aura as well, is extremely marketable and the UFC should be content that Overeem has an immense following and still remains a popular bruiser, “gaining much attention with his show, The Reem,” as well as his juggernaut frame.

But, Overeem needs to prove to the world that his buildup has not been overzealous these past few years by capitalizing on his latest big UFC chance.

Travis Browne:

It would be farfetched to assume Travis Browne would get an immediate title shot with his win over Alistair Overeem but depending on how he would dethrone the Dutchman – he would be more than just “in the mix” (as UFC President Dana White likes to say). If Browne could impressively defeat one of the premiere strikers in all of mixed martial arts, his performance would put the division on notice with a close watch.

Browne’s record stands at 14-1-1 (including a draw with Cheick Kongo) and the only man he has lost to was the last man to earn a shot at the heavyweight title – Antonio Silva. Keep in mind he had a freak knee injury during the fight, which always needs to be considered as a determining factor since the outcome could have been different. His last performance saw him demolish a seasoned veteran in Gabriel Gonzaga in just over a minute and although there was controversy due to his blows in the back of Gonzaga’s head while the Brazilian was crouched down in a world of hurt, the victory stands untouched.

Training in Albuquerque, N,M., with the famed Greg Jackson will led us to believe that Browne will implement a gameplan for Overeem, as most fighters in that camp create gameplans that are accustomed to the specific opponent they are facing. A win over Overeem would be huge since the former K-1 Grand Prix winner is touted as one of the best heavyweights around, but if title talks are set for Browne, it stems a bit of a problem for the UFC.

Company president White has been vocal about Roy Nelson’s title aspirations because he says that despite “Old Country” being convinced the UFC will never give him a title shot, White counters by saying he has not beat anyone in the Top 10. Ironically, this is the same scenario for Browne. You would think a win over Stefan Struve or Gabriel Gonzaga would be good enough for recognition, but those men are missing from the official UFC heavyweight rankings as well.

However if Browne beats Overeem, does that earn him a title shot in itself?

Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 26 card this weekend, starring with the Facebook “Prelims,” which are scheduled to being at 4 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports-1 televised under card bouts at 6 p.m. ET and then the main card action, which is slated to begin at 8 p.m. ET.

See you tomorrow!

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‘Shogun’ Rua, Chael Sonnen Official for UFC Fight Night 26 Main Event in Boston

The paths of two tried-and-true Ultimate Fighting Championship competitors will cross in Beantown, where legendary figures like Bill Russell, Ted Williams and Bobby Orr still cast larger-than-life shadows.
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UFC Fight Night 26 Weigh-In Photos

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