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Fightweets: Breaking Down the Changes to UFC 153

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Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Hardcore mixed martial arts fans can be so tough to figure sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, I love y'all. I mean it. If it wasn't for your passion for the sport, I'd have to go out and get a real job, and that's something I rarely forget.

But your general reaction to the announcement of the Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar main event at UFC 153 has me scratching my head.

Just a few weeks ago, MMA fans engaged in the Internet equivalent of a full-scale riot over the news that UFC 151 was canceled. Whether you sided with Dana White, Jon Jones, or saw it somewhere in the middle, no one was happy to see a major event fall by the wayside.

White was faced with a similar situation this week, when Jose Aldo Jr. had to pull out of his UFC 153 main event against Frankie Edgar and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson withdrew from his fight against Glover Teixeira.

The UFC president had to come up with something to save the show, as two event cancellations in two months would have been a catastrophe. But the situation facing him this time wasn't a lot different than it was last time: Events were booked, big-name potential replacements either already had other fights in place or were injured, and what have you.

So White did the best he could with the cards he had been dealt and came up with Silva, the middleweight champion, stepping up to light heavyweight and meeting Bonnar.

And the Twitter reaction was instantaneous:

@Adamsantarossa: Is this some sick joke from Dana. I wouldn't pay to see 152 or 153 main events

@AlexRossomakha: Bonnar is gonna die oh man oh man

@Matata212 Anderson's gonna kill Bonnar

@FladstolJeremy: What is the sense in a Bonnar vs Silva fight? So many great middleweights... did the mw's turn down the fight with silva???

And so on. In the wake of UFC 151, Silva was lauded as a hero for attempting to step up and fight at light heavyweight, an offer which came too late. Now he actually accepts a 205-pound bout on four weeks' notice, and fans are angry with the matchmaking. So which is it?

In a mostly UFC 153 edition of Fightweets, we explore most of the angles coming out of the UFC's latest change in plans.

If you want to be included in a future edition, you can drop me a question at my Twitter account, @davedoylemma.

@Dasapr2011 What do you think about UFC 153 new main event?

How convenient of you to ask, Dasapr. White made the best of a bad situation. Most of the reaction you've seen online has come from a North American worldview, but you also have to consider the ramifications of the event on Brazil, where the event will be held.

For one thing, go back to the country's last event, UFC 147: They lost the originally planned Silva-Chael Sonnen rematch when it was shifted to Las Vegas, then Vitor Belfort had to drop out of his fight with Wanderlei Silva. Now, at 153, another Brazilian headliner had to drop out in Aldo, on the heels of Belfort again being yanked, this time to fight Jones at UFC 152.

If you're White, your absolute top priority in this situation is to come up with something to please the fans in Rio and take care of the company's hottest market.

Silva wasn't likely to put his middleweight title on the line on short notice. Even if he could somehow be coaxed into it, the pack is already scheduled: Michael Bipsing is facing Brian Stann next week, and Chris Weidman-Tim Boetsch is signed for UFC 155, with Alan Belcher-Yushin Okami in the works for the same night.

On the light heavyweight side, they've had trouble finding opponents for Teixeira, who is both dangerous and relatively unknown. Lyoto Machida has a knee injury, and he's a training partner of Teixeira anyway. Dan Henderson is still injured. Alexander Gustafsson is slated to fight on network TV against Mauricio Rua in December. That bout has a whole lot more upside for Gustafsson.

Middleweights are booked, light heavyweights are booked. So what's left? Silva in a light heavyweight attraction fight, against Bonnar, who, incidentally, is said to have turned down Teixeira.

Other than the obvious -- which is that Silva-Bonnar is far more likely to end up on an "Ultimate Knockouts" DVD than a "Greatest Fights" compilation -- I don't see anything wrong with it. Silva's moving up a class, not down. He isn't putting his title on the line against someone with no business getting a title shot. Fans in Brazil get to see Silva fight in person after having the Sonnen fight pulled out from under them. And it helps keep Silva from getting rusty, assuming his next fight is coming against Georges St-Pierre in 2013.

Don't like it? The great thing about pay-per-view is that no one is forcing you to spend your money if you don't want to see it.

Where's Weidman?

@Blu_vision says: @ChrisWeidmanUFC vs AS. Much more interesting.

Not that you personally said this, Blu, but in general, the idea that Chris Weidman is somehow the undisputed No. 1 contender at middleweight is one the sillier notions that's come down the pike in recent months, and it seems to be gaining steam.

Weidman has exactly one blue-chip victory at this point. His demolition of Mark Munoz was indeed very impressive and was the sort that marked him as a potential future star. Emphasis on "potential."

The unbeaten Weidman is right where he belongs at the moment: As part of a pack of fighters who deserve potential consideration for a title shot, depending on how he looks in his next fight. He has the ability to move ahead with an impressive performance against Boetsch, whose UFC record at middleweight (4-0) is nearly the same as Weidman (5-0), and is roughly equal in terms of level of competition.

I can't blame Weidman for wanting the title shot now any more than I could blame St-Pierre for taking his first shot at Matt Hughes (a loss which set his career back a good two years), and I admire his hunger to be the best. But no matter how many in the media take up his cause, Weidman simply doesn't have the credentials at this point to make a clear case he should cut to the front of the line. So let's allow Bisping-Stann, Weidman-Boetsch, and Alan Belcher vs. Yushin Okami play out and then revisit the conversation around the turn of 2013.

Which other bouts could UFC have made?

(Note: I put a call out on Twitter asking which fights readers would have made instead of Silva-Bonnar)

@iamagirlrilla: Me vs. @RondaRousey! & I would pay us both a million bucks #sinceweweredreaming

For those not in the know, @iamagirlrilla is Strikeforce women's bantamweight contender Liz Carmouche. Liz, if you beat Sara McMann on Nov. 3, you just might get your wish on fighting Rousey. As for making a million bucks, hang in there, I'm sure the next Elite XC/Affliction/IFL "spend insane amounts of money on fighter contracts now, figure out a way to make it back later" promotion will pop up sooner or later.

@Dukesilver210 (and several others): Rashad vs. Silva!

Let's not forget Silva is, in fact, jumping up a weight class when he competes against Bonnar at light heavyweight, and Rashad is a fighter who once fought at heavyweight. It's easy to start thinking of Silva as Superman based on the highlight reel he's provided over the years. But stepping up and fighting Bonnar on short notice is one thing; a fight which would have been a champion vs. champion superfight a couple years back, as is the case with Evans, is a whole different matter.

@Steven1Cr: Tank Abbott vs Dan Severn

I like it. But why limit it to just this one fight? Let's blow up this idea even bigger. Let's also book a Keith Hackney-Emmanuel Yarborough rematch on the same night. We can bring back Bill "Superfoot" Wallace for one night. He'll judge the most impressive looking winner out of the bunch and give him a shot at Steve Jennum's UFC 3 tournament title. We can even throw in the WAMMA and YAMMA titles and make it some sort of Triple Crown championship. The Twitterverse needs more out-of-the-box thinkers like you, Steven1Cr.

More UFC 153 thoughts

@InMyMMAOpinion: It's not about this card. They pulled off a miracle with what happened. It just exposes the bigger issue.

Assuming that "the bigger issue" is "a heavy schedule combined with a freakish string of injuries," you are correct, sir. Luke Thomas and I went into this in more depth in this week's MMA Roundtable.

@ResidencyMMA: Bonnar is one of only five LHWs on a three-or-more UFC fight win streak. Hendo, Bones, Gustafsson and Te-Huna the others.

Of course, there's a slight difference in the caliber of competition in the win streaks you cite. Hendo's four-fight win streak has included Fedor Emelianenko and Mauricio Rua. Jones is on an unprecedented run in which he's destroyed one former champion after another. Bonnar has defeated Kyle Kingsbury, Igor Pokrajac and Krzysztof Soszynski, two of the three via decision.

But that said, your point is taken. Bonnar's not injured or tied down to another opponent, he's fighting better than he has in quite some time, and he's crazy enough to face Silva in Brazil. When opportunity knocked, he answered the door. Can you blame him for it?

@SometimesJames: Vitor KOs Jones. Bonnar beats Silva, gets title shot, subs Vitor, is most unlikely champ ever, retires. Thoughts?

For your sake, James, I hope you live in California. That way, you can purchase the stuff you're smoking safely and legally in one of the many state-registered dispensaries.

@Fedornuthugger: As weak main event as it gets! A joke! A sad joke.

With that, @Fedornuthugger returns to watching Fedor vs. Hong Man Choi.