“Shogun” Rua: Will to Beat Chael Sonnen “Hasn’t Changed” Despite Lack of Trash Talk
By Kelsey Mowatt
Due to the amount of insults Chael Sonnen has hurled at Brazilian stars like Wanderlei Silva, the Nogueira brothers and of course, Anderson Silva, many people expected the trash talk to continue as his bout with “Shogun” Rua approached. Heading into their UFC Fight Night 26 main event bout, however, not only has Sonnen largely refrained from criticizing the decorated fighter, but the outspoken vet has been quick to credit Rua for his skills.
“Yeah, it doesn’t really change anything,” Rua noted on a recent media call, when asked to comment on the fact Sonnen has been pretty respectful of the former PRIDE star. “He has said nice things about me in the past, but this doesn’t really change anything; it doesn’t change my will to win. Whether he says nice things or bad things about me, my will to win is just the same.”
Due to the status and experience of both men, Saturday’s headliner is clearly a big fight for both vets, but one could make the argument it’s more important for Rua. Since Sonnen is competing above his natural weight class, a loss to “Shogun” would be a setback, but it won’t prevent him from booking high profile bouts at 185.
Rua, on the other hand, is coming off a disappointing loss to Alexander Gustafsson, and has yet to lose back-to-back fights in his storied career. A defeat might signal to some, that the 31 year old’s run as a top contender is over.
As a result, Rua has been doing his best to prepare for Sonnen, and his camp has captured headlines thanks to a training stint with renowned boxing trainer Freddie Roach. In addition, Rua has enlisted the help of noted grappler Renato “Babalu” Sobral to help prepare for Sonnen’s vaunted wrestling game. Although both Rua and Sonnen are much more than either a wrestler or striker, most pundits believe the latter will need to take the fight to the mat, if he’s to win.
“I’ve worked a lot on my takedown defense because I know he’s a great wrestler, but I also worked a lot on my game, which is my Muay Thai,” said “Shogun.” “I really want to implement my game for this fight.”
When asked for his thoughts on how their main event bout will unfold, Sonnen relayed he has no doubts that Rua will come out aggressively as usual.
“I will be going straight ahead and he will be too,” said the 36 year-old Sonnen. “Not only is that how we fight, and I can speak for him as well, but we both have our skills and we’re going to bring our skills. But in addition, we’re the main event, and you can’t play around when you’re in the main event.”
“It’s going to be a lot of action and whether it’s positive or negative, I don’t know,” Sonnen added. “I’m in the same boat as everybody else, you need to tune in and find out as well, but there will not be a feeling out, as soon as they say go, we will.”
UFC Fight Night 26 will be hosted by Boston’s TD Garden Arena and will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.