The Forward Roll: UFC 153 edition

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Here's a question I've been wondering since Anderson Silva's latest matrix offering: if Georges St-Pierre really is the UFC's biggest draw, why is UFC president Dana White so adamant that it should be Jon Jones and not St-Pierre who faces Silva in a super fight?

While I understand that right now, public sentiment is overwhelmingly on the side of Silva-Jones over Silva-GSP, it could be a wildly different story in one month. If St-Pierre returns like a man who has desperately missed the fight game and destroys Carlos Condit, the pendulum will swing back towards the middle.

Even if that doesn't happen, all White has to do is wait. In just over 30 days, he could possibly have Silva, GSP and Jones in the midst of stunning win streaks, all free and clear, and all ready to return around roughly the same time. That makes either super fight makeable.

Giving Silva options at this point of his career seems to be a key. The champ just did the UFC a favor in headlining UFC 153 on short notice, so when it comes to his super fight opponent, he'll get his say in the matter, and he deserves it. Whether it's the UFC's biggest draw or its youngest phenom, that's a choice that most should be able to live with.

On to the predictions:

Anderson Silva
Here's one valid argument why St-Pierre is a fairer opponent for Silva: he's willing to meet St-Pierre in a catch weight fight. Silva is willing to let St-Pierre fight almost completely hydrated while potentially compromising his own strength and conditioning by fighting around 178. That would be the lowest number he's reached in about seven years, when he hit 174.5 to face Yushin Okami at Rumble on Rock 8. Jon Jones doesn't necessarily even want the fight, so even if it was offered, there's no assurance he'd be willing to actually go below 205. Silva's willingness to compromise must count for something, but mostly, I think St-Pierre is the fight Silva wants most, and it's still a huge fight that would capture mainstream attention. As long as he wins -- and I admit that's no gimme -- I say it's on.
Prediction: We finally see Silva vs. St-Pierre




Stephan Bonnar
While the record shows a loss and the highlights reveal a fighter who was simply overmatched, Bonnar certainly came to take the action to Silva. Now the question is if he'll ever fight again. Beforehand, he was basically retired and ready to call it a career unless something big came his way. Now that he's gotten that opportunity, you have to wonder if he's fully scratched his competitive itch, or if he'll receive any offer that lights his fire enough to go through with a lengthy camp.
Prediction: Bonnar retires

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
"Big Nog" looked like a dad teaching his mouthy son a lesson in his win over Dave Herman. But since Herman's been a bit of a disappointment since coming to the UFC, it's hard to know what to take from the victory. At 36, he's actually younger than his buddy Anderson Silva, but at 3-3 over his last six fights, his future as a top-tier heavyweight can go either way. His next fight should be a step towards deciding that question.
Prediction: He faces the winner of December's Shane Carwin vs. Roy Nelson fight

Glover Teixeira

After laying one of the all-time non-knockout beatdowns on a game Fabio Maldonado in the first round of their fight, it's obvious that Teixeira is ready to compete at a much higher level. Maybe not a championship level, but a rung or so below that works fine right now. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson still wants to face Teixeira, and that's a win-win for everyone. It just makes sense, so I'd bet money the UFC goes in that direction.
Prediction: Teixeira vs. Jackson

Jon Fitch
Welcome back, Jon Fitch. What a performance from the longtime top 10 welterweight who proved he still has plenty of gas in the tank at age 34 by knocking off Erick Silva. Fitch has gained a reputation as a non-finisher, but people forget that he had four finishes in his first six UFC fights before this long stretch of decisions began. Against Silva, he flashed that killer instinct again, and even though he didn't pull off the stoppage, it was a fight that showed him capable of making another run towards the top.
Prediction: He faces the winner of December's B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald fight

Phil Davis
After a loss and a no contest, it's back on the horse for Davis, who easily out-grappled Wagner Prado en route to a submission. It was roughly what we expected, and frankly, what Davis needed.
Prediction: He fights the winner of November's Thiago Silva vs. Stanislav Nedkov fight

Demian Maia

Maia was an anaconda against Story, suffocating him inch by inch, second by second from the opening bell until forcing him to tap with a brutal neck crank. It was a vintage performance that recalled his early days in the UFC. Remember when he tapped his first five opponents? He hadn't tapped anyone since, a span of over three years. Now in a division where his strength translates, watch out.
Prediction: He faces Mike Pierce

Erick Silva
Fighting a top-level opponent for the first time, Silva acquitted himself nicely for two rounds and then completely fell apart in the third, out of gas from the hellacious pace. Even in defeat, he proved that he has the game to threaten anyone, so now he's just got to ensure he brings the stamina to go with his skills.
Prediction: He faces Thiago Alves

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