The UFC will debut on the first day of Fox’s new sports channel, Fox Sports 1 on Saturday, August 17, 2013. The pay-per-view quality card will be live from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. In the main event, in a fight that was originally anticipated to take place at UFC 161, but was cancelled due to visa issues, top 10 middleweight, Chael Sonnen will square off with top 10 light heavyweight, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The fight, which takes place in the light heavyweight division, likely doesn’t have immediate title implications, but if the winner could string together a few dominant performances, they would likely be on a short list to face the champ, Jon Jones (or whoever may be champ at that point). The current betting line has Sonnen as the favourite at -141 and Rua as the underdog at +131. We, at The Fight Predictor, are especially excited for this card, as we will be able to bring you 9 fight predictions, the same number as UFC 162.
Chael Sonnen is a former division 1 and olympic level (he was an olympic alternate) greco-roman wrestler. He is also a top level mixed martial artist in both the UFC’s light heavyweight and middleweight division. He challenged for Anderson Silva’s middleweight title twice as well as Jon Jones light heavywight title once. In all three occassions however, he came up short, always being finished by the champ before the final bell. Sonnen does not tend to be an overly exciting fighter. His style is to wrestle his opponent to the ground and to do enough damage so as to not get stood up by the referee. Since signing with the WEC (and eventually being absorbed into the UFC), Sonnen has only won once by a method other than decision, and that was a submission win over Brian Stann at UFC 136. Sonnen seems to struggle when he is unable to take guys down. The two recent guys he has faced where he has had this problem are Jones and Silva. In addition, Sonnen is susceptible to submissions, with 8 submission losses in his career.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is a viscious striker with 6 of his last 6 wins coming by way of TKO or KO. He began fighting professionally 11 years ago at the tender age of 19. He fought in Pride from 2003-2007, amassing a record of 12-1, with 9 wins by TKO or KO, prior to entering the UFC. He has been much less dominant taking on the top guys the UFC has to offer, posting a 5-5 record, winning the UFC light heayweight title with a KO destruction, but losing it on his first defense vs current champ, Jon Jones. Rua has incredible striking prowress, but tends to struggle against guys who are great with their takedowns, defending just 44% of takedowns attempted against him.
Tale of the Tape
|TD Def ****||67%||44%|
* SLPM – significant strikes landed per minute
** SAPM – significant strikes absorbed per minute
*** TD – takedowns per 15 minute fight
**** TD Def – Percentage of takedowns defended
Immediately jumping off the page is the fact that 18 of Rua’s 21 wins have come by knockout, and just 1 has come by way of submission. What that says to us is that he’s a relatively one dimensional fighter. While not necessary for success in MMA, some of the pound for pound greats tend to be closer to even submissions and knockouts. Light heavyweight champ, Jon Jones sits at 9-6 knockouts and submissions respectively, while dominant welterweight champ, Georges St-Pierre sits at 8-5. Sonnen is obviously not a finisher, just 11 of his 27 wins have come inside the distance and just 1 of his last 6 victories has been something other than a decision.
The combatants both stand 6’1″ tall, but Rua possesses a 2 inch reach advantage. We don’t see the slight 2 inch reach advantage as being a major factor in this fight. In terms of strikes landed, both guys land over 3 strikes per minute, with Rua landing about a half strike more per minute. The stats show however, that to earn the extra half strike delivered per minute, Rua is absorbing almost 1.5 more strikes against per minute. That, along with the fact that he is only able to stop 44% of takedowns attempted against him, make him stylistically, a great match-up for Sonnen who lands 3.83 takedowns per fight and who is well known as a great MMA wrestler (yes, it takes a slightly different type of wrestling to succeeed in MMA as compared to NCAA or Olympic wrestling).
Our model has Chael Sonnen as the strong favourite to win this fight. After analyzing the match-up, we believe the model to be correct and we see little chance of Rua being able to pull of the upset. At the current line of 1.71 on Sonnen, we will hold off on placing a bet, but stay tuned to our further predictions articles as we may place the bet should the line move favourably.
In our first bet of the card, our model has Yuri Alcantara as a strong favourite to defeat “The California Kid” Uriah Faber. Alcantara has looked incredible since debuting at bantamweight with victories over Pedro Nobre and Iliarde Santos. We acknowledge that Alcantara’s stats come from facing a lower level of competition, but he still manages an 88% takedown success to Faber’s dreadful 32%. We placed a 2 unit bet on Alcantara to win at 3.35 to 1.
Here are the latest odds for UFC on Fox Sports 1 (AKA UFC Fight Night 26):