On August 17, the UFC will be broadcasting on Fox Sports 1 for the very first time and, judging by the fight card, have tried to make it as memorable as possible. Without any championships on the line, or a pay-per-view price tag, this show has potential to be one of the best this year.
UFC Fight Night 26: Shogun vs. Sonnen preview
Trying to gain more ground throughout the United States, the UFC entered a 7-year partnership with FOX Sports Media Group, and the most recent addition to this relationship is Fox Sports 1. Launching this Saturday. Fox Sports 1 is the newest 24/7 sports network in the United States, which should provide the UFC with a substantially large audience.
Preliminary Card (Facebook)
Manvel Gamburyan (12-7) vs. Cole Miller (19-7)
This fight has the potential to be worthy of the main card, and Ultimate Fighter fans can attest to that. Manvel “The Anvil” is a pitbull-esque striker with incredible heart. Coming off losses to Jose Aldo, Tyson Griffin and Diego Nunes, Gamburyan was able to defeat Michihiro Omigawa at UFC on Fox: Shogun vs. Vera. On the other hand, Miller is a submission specialist who suffered two straight losses to Steven Siler and Nam Phan, both by decision. Miller got back in the win column by submitting Bart Palaszewski via rear naked choke in the first round. With an impressive win, one of these fighters could find themselves back on the main card next year.
Cody Donovan (8-2) vs. Ovince St. Preux (13-5)
Donovan is a finisher who enjoyed a three-fight win streak before defeating Nick Penner via TKO in the first round of his first UFC fight. Donovan is a black belt in BJJ under Nate Marquardt and has shown both striking and submission skills in the past. He will need to utilize them against Strikeforce veteran Ovince St. Preux. St. Preux had just one loss in Strikeforce, to Gegard Mousasi, and will look to use his experience and versatility to defeat Donovan.
Ramsey Nijem (7-3) vs. James Vick (4-0)
Nijem has fought in the UFC since the Ultimate Fighter 13 finale and has compiled a record of 3-2. While he has shown an array of skills in the past, his wins in the UFC are two decisions and one TKO. His opponent, James Vick, is a young up-and-coming fighter with a undefeated MMA record. He has shown immense confidence in his submission skills, while also finishing an opponent via TKO. This is a classic battle of experience versus. youth.
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)
Brad Pickett (23-7) vs. Michael McDonald (15-2)
Pickett is a very skilled and aggressive fighter. He has fought some of the best fighters at 135 pounds and continues to impress with his striking and submission skills. “One Punch” recently defeated Mike Easton via split decision and hopes to move up the ladder. Pickett’s opponent, Michael McDonald, is a young fighter who has already made his name in the UFC. After very impressive wins over Alex Soto and Miguel Torres, McDonald fought for the Interim Championship against Renan Barao. While Barao proved to be the better fighter, McDonald has a very bright future in the UFC.
Conor McGregor (13-2) vs. Max Halloway (7-2)
Both fighters are extremely young and are making a name for themselves in the UFC. McGregor’s finish of Marcus Brimage was his debut in the UFC and was nothing short of spectacular. His opponent Max Halloway is no slouch either, having beaten Pat Schilling, Justin Lawrence and Leonard Garcia. After his loss to Dennis Bermudez, Halloway will be looking to get back on the winning trail against a very hungry Conor McGregor.
Mike Brown (26-8) vs. Steven Siler (22-10)
Brown is a UFC veteran who has fought some of the best fighters in the world, most notably his two wins over Urijah Faber in the WEC. After defeating Nam Phan and Daniel Pineda, Brown will hope to keep the streak going against youngster Steven Siler. Siler, who is just 26 years old, has already fought 32 times professionally. His submission skills have helped in the past, but he will need to bring his A-game against such tough and experienced UFC veteran like Brown.
Diego Brandao (17-8) vs. Daniel Pineda (17-9)
Both fighters are coming off very solid wins and an impressive finish could catapult one of them in the featherweight division. Brandao and Pineda have shown great hands and jiu-jitsu, making this a great chess match of MMA skills. Whoever comes out with the win will likely get a higher caliber of opponent in their next fight.
Joe Lauzon (22-8) vs. Michael Johnson (12-8)
And the award for the most questionable fight goes to…
Mr. Fight Bonus, real name Joe Lauzon, is geared up to fight after an eight-month hiatus. His last bout, fight of the year winner on many prominent lists, was a decision loss to Jim Miller. Here is Dana White’s gift for Lauzon after the bout. Now that the blood is restored, Lauzon takes on TUF 12 finalist Michael Johnson. Johnson, who is coming off two straight loses, and has yet to defeat a top-level fighter, takes on his toughest opponent to date. Johnson is a good wrestler who has worked on his striking and submissions over the years. Nevertheless, Johnson will need to have the best training camp of his life if he hopes to upset Lauzon.
Uriah Hall (7-3) vs. John Howard (20-8)
Hall could be the most anticipated fighter in the UFC. After devastating knockouts on the recent season of TUF, Hall went into the finale with incredible hype. However, for those who understand the science of the sport, Kevin Gastelum’s skill and heart was evident from the start, along with this impressive style. After that fight, it was evident that Hall needed to work on his takedown defense and wrestling. If he has, Hall should be a very tough opponent for veteran John Howard. Howard, who has UFC experience, has not stepped in the octagon since 2011, but has put together an impressive record outside the UFC since then. He’s a finisher that likes to strike, meaning this fight should be less than three rounds.
Matt Brown (17-11) vs. Mike Pyle (25-8-1)
A clash of longtime UFC veterans, both Brown and Pyle are riding impressive win streaks and are hoping to climb the ranks with another win. The winner could potentially see top ten contention in their next fight, but with such a deep welterweight division at the moment, it is hard to see where both fighters will end up. Nonetheless, this promises to be a good battle with one fighter getting a little closer to their goal.
Urijah Faber (28-6) vs. Yuri Alcantara (28-4-1)
This is another questionable bout made by the UFC. Faber is coming off two impressive wins over Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen, while Alcantara is currently 1-0-1 as a UFC bantamweight. Faber is a fan favorite and one of the UFC’s elite, while Alcantara is still trying to find his place with the promotion. Even though Alcantara supports a great record, Faber will be a very tough challenge, and it will be interesting to see which fighter comes out on top.
Alistair Overeem (36-12-NC) vs. Travis Browne (14-1-1)
Overeem fans have been hoping to see the same fighter of past years, and while he demonstrated those skills against Brock Lesnar, his failed drug test prior to the bout with Junior dos Santos put a halt to his UFC career. Following his suspension, Overeem fought Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and, similar to Browne, suffered his first UFC loss to the Brazilian. While Overeem still needs to redeem himself, Browne put on an impressive show against Gabriel Gonzaga, winning in 1:11 of the first rounds via knockout. Both fighters need a win to be considered title contenders in the heavyweight division.
Mauricio Rua (21-7) vs. Chael Sonnen (27-13-1)
Sonnen is currently the ninth ranked middleweight in the UFC, while “Shogun” is ranked eighth in the light heavyweight division. Sonnen is coming off two straight title shots in two different divisions, and Rua is coming off a loss to current Light Heavyweight number one contender Alexander Gustafsson.
Both fighters have shown tremendous heart and skill in the past, so it will be interesting to see how this fight plays out. Sonnen is an elite greco-roman wrestler while Rua’s guard will help him greatly in defending on the ground. Rua will likely want to keep it standing, but will need to defend Sonnen’s takedowns to avoid the unfavorable decision. No matter how you break it down, both fighters have elite-level skill and though Vegas claims Sonnen to be the favorite, this fight could go either way.