Chael Sonnen backed it up Saturday in Boston. | Jared Wickerham/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Chael Sonnen talks an incomparable talk and walks a pretty good walk.
The two-time middleweight title challenger recorded his first Ultimate Fighting Championship victory at 205 pounds on Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston, as he submitted Mauricio Rua with a first-round guillotine choke in the UFC Fight Night 26 main event. Sonnen elicited the tapout with just 13 seconds remaining in round one.
“Shogun” traded takedowns with the outspoken Oregonian early on but ultimately found himself on the bottom. Sonnen suffocated the Brazilian with frustrating positional control and peppered him with ground-and-pound. As Rua attempted to return to his feet, Sonnen snared him with the guillotine, dropped into full guard and finished it there. With that, he became the third man to ever submit the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix winner.
The win sets up plenty of possibilities for Sonnen, the UFC’s resident villain. Afterward, he focused his attention on Brazilian icon Wanderlei Silva, a man with whom he has traded verbal barbs in the past. However, Sonnen indicated previously that he planned to move back to the 185-pound division, where potential matchups with Vitor Belfort or Lyoto Machida could materialize. For now, a pairing with “The Axe Murderer” seems like the big-ticket option for the UFC.
The waters appear far more muddied for Rua, who has looked less and less like the dominant force that tore through Pride nearly a decade ago. At 31 and with a number of taxing battles already behind him, one has to wonder how many more times he can go to the post. Should he move forward with his career in the UFC, Rua might seek to right his ship in a bout against the loser of the forthcoming UFC Fight Night 28 matchup between Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader.
In the wake of UFC Fight Night 26, here are five other matches that ought to be made:
Travis Browne vs. Stipe Miocic: Browne absorbed the best Alistair Overeem had to offer and refused to go away. The Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative weathered an onslaught of knees to the body and knocked out Overeem with a swift but violent front kick to the face and follow-up hammerfists. On the heels of the most significant victory of his career, Browne figures to scrap with another top 10 heavyweight whenever he returns to the Octagon. Miocic cruised to a unanimous decision over Roy Nelson at UFC 161 in June.
Urijah Faber vs. Michael McDonald: Faber moved his career record in non-title bouts to 18-0 with his unanimous verdict over former Jungle Fight champion Iuri Alcantara. The Team Alpha Male patriarch has won his last three fights and remains a fixture in the title picture at 135 pounds. McDonald, meanwhile, dazzled with his second-round submission over Brad Pickett, as he finished the American Top Team export with a triangle choke after battering him with clean, accurate power punches for much of their encounter.
Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit-Martin Kampmann winner: After six straight wins, five of them finishes, Brown appears to finally be in position to secure a matchup with an upper-tier welterweight. The 32-year-old Xenia, Ohio native needed less than half a minute to dispatch Mike Pyle, as he short-circuited the onetime World Extreme Cagefighting champion with punches 29 seconds into their bout. On the verge of a pink slip after three consecutive submission losses to Ricardo Almeida, Chris Lytle and Brian Foster in 2010, Brown has compiled a 7-1 record since. Condit and Kampmann will lock horns in their highly anticipated rematch at UFC Fight Night 27 on Aug. 28 in Indianapolis.
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier-Erik Koch winner: The ballyhooed McGregor passed his first serious test inside the Octagon, as he overcame an apparent knee injury to upend Max Holloway by unanimous decision. The former two-division Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder has responded well to the considerable hype surrounding his arrival in the UFC and figures to move up quickly in the featherweight division. Poirier and Koch, two of the more promising young fighters at 145 pounds, will meet at UFC 164 later this month in Milwaukee.
Alistair Overeem vs. Josh Barnett-Frank Mir loser: Six months ago, Overeem was on the brink of a title shot. Now, he finds himself wreathed by uncertainty after a second straight embarrassing knockout loss. The former Strikeforce and Dream champion had Travis Browne all but buried with knees to the body in the first round, but his inability to finish cost him dearly. A front kick to the face and follow-up hammerfists from the resilient Hawaiian brought Overeem’s outing to an unfortunate close. The UFC could conceivably cut ties with the “Demolition Man,” but if he retains his roster spot, perhaps he could rekindle his fire with a clash against the loser of the UFC 164 matchup between Barnett and Mir.