UFC Fight Night 26 on Fox Sports 1 brings a loaded card to Boston for the UFC’s first fight on the new Fox Sports 1. No title fights on this card, but there are a ton of great fights that really have the opportunity to bring a lot of action. Can Urijah Faber keep winning? Is Alistair Overeem back? Can Chael Sonnen win his last light heavyweight bout? With this being the first card on Fox Sports 1, expect a lot of fighters to put on a show and chase performance bonuses. With all that said, let’s jump into Saturday’s card and take a look at the fights.
Middleweight: Uriah Hall (7-3) vs. John Howard (20-8)
Much hyped Uriah Hall may need a win more than anyone on this card. Hall is only on his second UFC fight, but with the way he ran through the Ultimate Fighter, his expectations are sky high. A loss against Kelvin Gastlelum was a disappointment, so Hall needs this fight to get back on track. Howard is back in the UFC after a two year absence that saw him go 6-1 outside the Octagon. Regardless, Hall has something to prove and I expect him to make quick work of Howard.
The Pick: Hall
Welterweight: Matt Brown (17-11) vs. Mike Pyle (25-8)
This bout has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. Both Brown and Pyle are veterans of the UFC, and both are on winning streaks (Brown-5, Pyle-4). Pyle is better on the ground (16 wins by submission) while Brown has the edge standing (10 TKO/KOs). Expect a good back and forth fight, with Pyle trying to exploit Brown on the ground. Fun fact, on their current win streaks, both men have won a majority of fights by TKO/KO (Brown -4, Pyle -3). I expect Brown to win by TKO/KO after a lot of action.
The Pick: Brown
Bantamweight: Urijah Faber (28-6) vs. Yuri Alcantara (28-4)
Urijah Faber is in a unique spot of fighting to win while seemingly never advancing towards a title shot. All six of Faber’s career losses have come in various organization’s title fights. Simply, he only losses in title fights and this is no title fight. Alcantara shouldn’t be taken lightly though. The Brazilian has been fighting just as long, with as many wins. His competition may not be the same as Faber’s, but he still poses a sizable threat with a combined 24 wins by TKO/KO or submission. Faber has a great chin and has never been submitted in his career and I doubt that’s likely to change. It’ll be a tough fight, but I see Faber taking the decision.
The Pick: Faber
Heavyweight: Alistair Overeem (36-12) vs. Travis Browne (14-1)
Alistair Overeem was embarrassed in his last fight against Antonio Silva, suffering a third round knockout after getting cocky. He’s back in Boston to get back on track. Reem is huge and has devastating knockout power. Browne’s only loss came against Silva as well, when he injured his leg and proceeded to fight on only to get knocked out. Everyone at heavyweight is a knockout artist, but Browne hasn’t fought anyone like Overeem in his career. I don’t think he’ll be able to stand with him for long, and Reem has a surprisingly decent ground game. Barring any foolishness like his last fight, I see the former K-1 Champion beating Browne by TKO/KO.
The Pick: Overeem
Light Heavyweight: Chael Sonnen (27-13-1) vs. Mauricio Rua (21-7)
Chael Sonnen is the best talker the UFC has had since Tito Ortiz. Much like Ortiz, he backs it up in the cage as well, but lately Sonnen has been having a rough go. Back-to-back losses against Anderson Silva and Jon Jones have Sonnen looking at a (albeit impressive) losing streak that he doesn’t want to continue. Sonnen isn’t a glamorous fighter (zero TKO/KO wins in nine UFC fights), but does enough to win most of the time and has a decent enough ground game supported by his strong wrestling skills. Rua is a legend and former titleholder. His best days are behind him, but he still has knockout power in him (all five of his UFC wins are by TKO/KO). The problem with Rua is he gasses. Hard. Like a plane falling from the sky. I see Sonnen pushing the pace while avoiding Rua’s hands to take a decision.
The Pick: Sonnen
2013 Record: 7-1
UFC Fight Night 26 on Fox Sports 1 takes place Saturday August 17th and is available on Fox Sports 1