Chael Sonnen shocked Mauricio Rua at UFC Fight Night 26. | Jared Wickerham/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Chael Sonnen reminded the mixed martial arts world that there is plenty of substance behind his over-the-top shtick.
Sonnen submitted former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titleholder Mauricio Rua with a first-round guillotine choke in the UFC Fight Night 26 headliner on Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston. Rua (21-8, 5-6 UFC) reluctantly tapped out 4:47 into round one.
The two men traded takedowns in the first round, though Sonnen eventually wound up in top position and settled in half guard. From there, he softened Rua with ground-and-pound and generally made life miserable for the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix winner. As the frustrated Rua attempted to rise to his feet, Sonnen snatched the guillotine, dropped into guard and coaxed the tapout.
Afterward, Sonnen (28-13-1, 7-6 UFC) called out another iconic Brazilian.
“Wanderlei Silva: six feet tall, 205 pounds. Until I met you, I didn’t know they could stack crap that high,” he said. “Wanderlei, three months, you and the bad guy.”
Browne Front Kick, Hammerfists KO Overeem
Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export Travis Browne recorded the most significant victory of his career, as he knocked out onetime Strikeforce and Dream champion Alistair Overeem with a front kick and follow-up hammerfists in the co-main event. Browne (15-1-1, 6-1-1 UFC) drew the curtain on the decorated Dutchman 4:08 into round one.
Overeem (36-13, 1-2 UFC) cracked the Hawaiian with wicked knees to the body, one of which drove Browne to the canvas. The “Demolition Man” swarmed with punches and appeared close to forcing a stoppage, but referee Mario Yamasaki allowed the bout to move forward.
“He throws knees like I’ve never felt before,” Browne said. “He hit me with a couple of body shots that put me down. I was there mentally, but my body shut down. All I could hear was Mario say, ‘Move.’ Then I felt [Overeem] slow down, and I knew it was my game.”
Browne rose to his feet and started chipping away at his monstrous adversary. A swift front kick to the chin put Overeem on the ground, and two thudding hammerfists made sure he would not get up.
“This is just another goal in my career that I’ve achieved, taking out a top 5 guy,” Browne said. “I’m not done yet. I want to wear that [heavyweight] strap.”
Faber Weathers Alcantara, Rolls to Decision
Former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Urijah Faber rode takedowns, ground-and-pound and his indomitable will to a unanimous decision over Iuri Alcantara in a high-stakes showdown at 135 pounds. All three judges scored it for Faber (29-6, 5-2 UFC): 30-26, 30-26 and 30-27.
Alcantara (28-5, 3-2 UFC) had his chance. The 33-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt countered an overaggressive takedown attempt from Faber, flipped the Team Alpha Male patriarch to his back and moved to full mount in the opening seconds of round one. Alcantara pounded away and threatened with an armbar, only to allow Faber to escape.
“I thought Iuri broke my jaw in that first series,” Faber said. “I think he might have dislocated it, and I just felt a sense of urgency.”
From there, “The California Kid” hit his stride. He struck for takedowns in all three rounds and grinded on Alcantara with heavy elbows and punches from inside guard.
“He’s a true Brazilian warrior,” Faber said. “I knew it would be tough. I had to use my skill level and go where I could beat him. Conditioning is my thing, and [a strength of] Team Alpha Male, in general. We have an incredible staff, and we work so hard.”
Brown Waylays Pyle in 29 Seconds
Matt Brown wiped out Syndicate MMA’s Mike Pyle with punches less than half a minute into their welterweight showcase. Pyle (25-9-1, 8-4 UFC) succumbed to the blows 29 seconds into round one, his modest four-fight winning streak a thing of the past.
Brown clipped the former WEC champion with a right hand and drove him to the canvas with a knee to the head. In a dazed state and pinned underneath a potent finisher, Pyle could not defend himself. A pair of jackhammer right hands fell next, dribbling Pyle’s head off the canvas and leading to a decisive conclusion.
“I know how good Mike Pyle really is,” Brown said. “If I let him get comfortable in there, it was going to be a dogfight, so I went balls to the wall, which is how I fight anyway.’
A 32-year-old Xenia, Ohio, native, Brown (18-11, 11-5 UFC) has won his last six bouts. Afterward, he took aim at reigning UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
“Mike Pyle is good enough to be champion,” Brown said. “A lot of people don’t know that. He’s better than GSP -- I know that -- so where you at, Georges? What’s up?”
‘Doomsday’ Howard Captures Split Verdict
Stout leg kicks, occasional left hooks and well-timed takedowns carried former Ring of Combat champion John Howard to a split decision over Team Tiger Schulmann’s Uriah Hall in a middleweight showcase. Two of the three judges sided with Howard by 30-27 and 29-28 scores; a third cast a dissenting 29-28 nod in Hall’s favor.
Howard (21-8, 5-3 UFC) moved forward from the start, neutralizing Hall’s five-inch height and eight-inch reach advantage. He attacked the legs to great effect, held his own in the clinch and delivered takedowns in the second and third rounds. Hall (7-4, 0-2 UFC), who was a finalist on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” seemed tentative throughout the 15-minute encounter. He had his moments -- counter knees, right crosses and a couple takedowns of his own were his primary weapons -- but did not do enough in the eyes of two of the judges.
Johnson Overwhelms, Upsets Lauzon
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 finalist Michael Johnson overwhelmed Joe Lauzon with blinding hand speed and cruised to a one-sided unanimous decision in the lightweight opener. All three cageside judges sided with Johnson (13-8, 5-4 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 30-25. He entered the cage as a 2-to-1 underdog.
Lauzon (22-9, 9-6 UFC) never moved the fight to the ground. Stuck on the feet, he was no match for “The Menace,” as Johnson tore into him with one multi-strike combination after another. He floored Lauzon with a searing straight left in the first round and bludgeoned him with follow-up punches. Johnson mixed in late takedowns in rounds two and three, all while blasting away with punches, knees and elbows on the feet.
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