My review of UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar, which is a fun card filled with a lot of good fights.
Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar: There is really no point to try and breakdown this fight from a technical aspect. If Bonnar is going to win, he’ll need to consistently takedown Silva and hold him there. Considering that Silva’s takedown defense from the clinch, where Bonnar’s best offensive wrestling comes from, is pretty good, that’s going to be a tough task for Bonnar. I don’t want to give Bonnar absolutely no chance in this fight, but this is MMA and Bonnar isn’t a complete can. Considering that Bonnar has pretty much resigned himself to the fact that he’s only in this fight to get massacred, even he knows this isn’t going to end well for him. My partner Samer Kadi actually brought up a point that I’m really starting to buy into: how much training are these two doing and how serious are they taking it? Bonnar and Silva both seem to be taking this fight as serious as Zuffa takes Strikeforce and I feel like Bonnar is spending the majority of his training camp playing checkers with Forrest Griffin and Silva is spending the majority of his trolling Ed Soares. There’s no doubt that Bonnar is as tough as they come and can take a punch, but it’s not like Silva hasn’t cracked iron chins before. This fight will last as long as Silva wants it to. If he feels like moving backwards and bobbing and weaving without throwing a strike, then it’ll last a round or two. But if he decides to counter when Bonnar throws his slow and sloppy strikes, it’ll last a minute or two. My guess is that Silva will toy around for a bit in order to give the Brazilian fans a chance to see the greatest of all-time for a bit longer but eventually he’ll put Bonnar away.
Prediction: Silva, However, Whenever
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman: Nogueira might not be what he once was, but he’s still better than Herman, who is extremely flakey and seems to fight with no real game plan. On the feet, Nogueira obviously runs the risk of being KO’d because his chin is no longer bulletproof, he’s never been a good defensive striker, and pretty much everyone at heavyweight hits hard. On the whole though, Nogueira is the better boxer and could out-strike Herman. Despite his claims that “jiu-jitsu doesn’t work,” Herman is a competent grappler. He’s not Nogueira though, who is the best grappler in the history of the heavyweight division when you’re talking about everything that encompasses MMA grappling like strikes, passes, sweeps, and submissions. It’s not out of the question that Nogueira would pull guard, sweep, and then lock up a submission in the scramble. Herman isn’t a bad heavyweight, but he’s extremely untrustworthy. Nogueira is no longer a top heavyweight, but lets not pretend like he’s completely washed up and incapable of beating mediocre guys. Look at who he’s lost to and how he’s lost. If and when he loses to a guy like Herman, that’s when I’ll say it’s time to hang it up, but until then, he’s still talented enough to beat the majority of guys in the division.
Prediction: Nogueira, Submission, Round 1
Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado: This is an appropriate fight for Teixeira after his victory over Kyle Kingsbury. Despite losing his last two, Maldonado could’ve easily won both of those fights if there were different judges. On the feet, Maldonado has some extremely slick offensive boxing and some of the best body shots in the division. His problem is defensively, where he gets hit too much and hangs around too long on the inside, which causes him to eat knees in the clinch. Teixeira isn’t as polished on the feet as Maldonado, but he does have a sick plum clinch, and that’s where he can do a lot of damage in this fight. On the ground is where Teixeira has a huge advantage though. He has an outstanding top game and Maldonado, while not clueless off his back, will likely be easily out positioned and thoroughly dominated. I’m pretty high on Teixeira, not so high that I think he should’ve been fighting “Shogun” Rua, but definitely high enough that I expect him to beat and finish Maldonado. I think Teixeira catches Maldonado on the feet, possibly with a knee, and then finishes him off on the ground with a flurry of strikes.
Prediction: Teixeira, TKO, Round 1
Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva: This is a very intriguing fight. Fitch has fallen on hard times recently with a draw, injuries, a quick KO loss, and more injuries but he’s still one of the top welterweights in the world. Silva has been very impressive in his short UFC stint, but he hasn’t faced anyone near the caliber of Fitch. I feel like this fight goes one of two ways: either Silva blitzes a rusty Fitch early and finishes him or Fitch settles in and does what he does, which is a lot of clinching and smothering. I’m going to go with the latter, but I’m not very confident with my decision. I’m just willing to give Fitch the benefit of the doubt and we’ve seen way too many fighters look strong in blitzing mediocre competition only to falter against high level opponents who can turn things into a 15-minute grind. A Silva win would not be shocking though. He’s clearly a talented fighter and he’s catching Fitch at a very good time in his career. I’m going safe and boring though, just the way Dustin James’ girlfriend likes it.
Prediction: Fitch, Decision
Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado: People are down on Davis because he showed little to no remorse when he intentionally poked Prado in the eye the last time these two fought, but lets not let personal bias get in the way of just how talented he is. His boxing hasn’t come along at all, but he throws good kicks and does a nice job using distance. Even though his striking is still pretty basic, we can’t ignore just how good his wrestling and top game is. When Davis wants to get a takedown, he usually succeeds. On top he does a nice job maintaining his position and has developed a nice top grappling game. Prado obviously has a ton of power and if Davis is dumb enough to stand with him too long, he runs the risk of getting caught. Prado throws a lot of leg kicks though and when you do that against an outstanding wrestler like Davis, it makes it that much easier for him to get the takedown. I don’t expect Davis put himself in any danger on the feet, consistently score takedowns, and control his way to a decision.
Prediction: Davis, Decision
Demian Maia vs. Rick Story: I really like this fight. I’ve been a big fan of Maia ever since he submitted Ed Herman and I’ve never bought into Story, even after his win over Thiago Alves. Maia went through a dull period when he thought he was a world-class striker and not a world-class grappler, but it looked like he changed his ways in his last bout, even though it only lasted a minute. Maia is at his most dangerous when he clinches up and gets the fight to the ground by any means necessary. He has great takedowns/throws from the clinch and isn’t afraid to pull guard in order to go for a submission or sweep. Story is a good wrestler, but lets not forget what Maia did to Chael Sonnen, who is a much better wrestler than Story. For Story to win, he’ll have to keep the fight standing. Even though he’s not a great striker, he’s better than Maia and should be able to land the cleaner and harder punches. If this fight goes to the ground though, Maia will likely have his way with Story. At welterweight, I think the “Kind Killer” Maia is back and he’ll be on display this weekend.
Prediction: Maia, Submission, Round 2