This weekend, UFC 153 is set to kick off in Brazil. Injury after injury has left the Rio de Janeiro fight card without a featherweight title fight, a light-heavyweight tilt with divisional implications, and a middleweight scrap between arguably the two top contenders in the division. In the wake of the reshuffling, we are left with an undeniably altered, if not more intriguing card. The greatest pound for pound fighter, a UFC journeyman, and a heavyweight legend have stepped up to give this card more buzz than its predecessor. The matchups have been made, so let’s sort through the scraps.
The oddsmakers know who should win this. The fans know who should win this. The media knows who should win this. But that doesn’t keep the butterflies from creeping into their stomachs; it doesn’t keep them from wondering, "What if?" If Stephan Bonnar defeats Anderson Silva, it will be the biggest upset in UFC history, and that’s the main reason people will pay to see this fight. The intrigue, the Rocky story implications, the fact that Bonnar was, for all intents and purposes, retired. It’s that speculation that will keep people on the edge of their seats.
But when the fight happens, expect nothing short of Anderson Silva dominating Stephan Bonnar. Bonnar has never shown one punch knockout power, so a "punchers chance" seems even more farfetched, his ground game, while underrated, isn’t exactly that of a world beater, and his willingness to take a few punches to give one will come back to haunt him even more so against the most devastating striker in the UFC. Silva will do what Silva does: come out to a slow start, feel out his opponent, and then devastate him with strikes until the referee comes in to stop the fight.
Silva via KO.
This clash of heavyweights brings together two ends of the fight game: a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master and legend of the sport, fighting a journeyman who believes that Jiu-Jitsu is a nonissue in MMA. Herman has a wide variety of attacks in his arsenal (he has a knockout win by axe kicks, and an omoplata submission win), and 25 career fights beneath his belt. Nogueira is the far more experienced competitor, has fought vastly tougher competition and has added knockout power to his phenomenal ground game. Look for Nogueira to get clipped, recover, and win via stoppage.
Nogueira via TKO.
Apart from a short lived stint in the WEC, Teixeira has remained an unknown commodity to fans in the US, a hot prospect on a 16 fight winning streak (with 15 stoppages), and a man on the edge of becoming a world beater. He faces a durable veteran and former professional boxer in Maldonado, but as a late replacement and a man riding a two fight losing streak, Maldonado seems like a sacrificial lamb at this point. Look for Teixeira to take Maldonado down and finish him.
Teixeira via KO.
What we have here is an interesting welterweight bout between the old guard and the young prospect. Fitch enters the bout having not won a fight since 2010, and Silva enters the bout having displayed a solid takedown defense and killer instinct on the ground. Will Fitch do what Fitch does best, and grind his way to a unanimous decision? I don’t think so. Silva will keep Fitch off of him long enough to land the knockout punch.
Silva via TKO.
After a nasty eye poke ruled the first bout a No Contest, the rematch should offer a more conclusive ending. Wagner Prado has a killers instinct and knockout power, but I look to see Davis utilize superior wrestling and dominate a grappling heavy fight.
Davis via decision.
After dropping down to welterweight and earning a strange TKO victory over Korean grappler Dong Hyun Kim, Demian Maia is set to make another strong showing against gritty grappler Rick Story. Story has a well-rounded skill set, though he doesn’t necessarily shine in any area. The fight is most likely to play out with Maia dragging Story to the ground, and controlling the fight. If the MMA Gods are favorable, they may even restore Maia’s instinct to submit.
Maia via Decision.
Rony Jason defeats Sam Sicilia via submission.
Francisco Trinaldo defeats Gleison Tibau via decision.
Diego Brandao defeats Joey Gambino via KO.
Renee Forte defeats Sergio Moraes via decision.
Luiz Cane defeats Chris Camozzi via KO.
Reza Madadi defeats Cristiano Marcello via KO.