By George Shunick
If there’s a word that sums up UFC 153, it’s got to be “wow”. Anderson Silva gave another performance indicating that we do indeed live in the Matrix. Jon Fitch was in the most exciting fight of the night, and one of the best of the year. Big Nog submitted a man impervious to jiu-jitsu. Demian Maia choked/neck-cranked a man so hard he had a mini-hemorrhage and blood spurted out of his nose. And perhaps most impressive of all, Wagner Prado actually stopped a hat thief.
The bottom line is UFC 153 was an amazing card that delivered from top to bottom. Could it have been better if it had Frankie Edgar square off against Jose Aldo? Probably. But I’ll take another transcendental show from Anderson Silva any day of the week. And that’s exactly what his fight with Stephan Bonnar was. After a slip, Bonnar pressed Silva into the cage, presumably looking to wear the smaller fighter down. Silva wasn’t having any of it, offering a few knees, shoulder shrugs and nothing else. Bonnar backed away and then things got weird. Silva remained on the fence, hands down, encouraging Bonnar to hit him.
Now, I know Stephan Bonnar isn’t the world’s greatest striker. He’s never shown serious knockout power, and his technique has never been the best. But he’s still a 230 pound man who’s spent the majority of his adult life learning how to hurt people. He’s a professional fighter. And for about 4 minutes and 40 seconds last night, those facts didn’t amount to jack shit. Silva dodged, deflected or simply absorbed Bonnar’s offense for about two minutes, demonstrating what a black belt in Tae Kwon Do is worth against a man who seems to know what you’re going to do before you do. Then, Silva decided to end the fight. He tripped Bonnar, established some separation, and then connected with a debilitating, pin-point knee to the solar plexus. Bonnar – who had never been stopped with strikes before – collapsed and waited for the end to come. Mercifully, it did.
Plenty of people are clamoring for Silva to fight Jon Jones now. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be intrigued, but until both of them want to fight, it seems silly to speculate. Besides, Silva’s fights with people he considers his friends don’t seem to be the entertaining variety. (Even if said “friends” actually dispute their friendship.) Personally, though, I’d like to see him fight Chris Weidman. GSP is, in my opinion, too small for Silva, and is coming off ACL surgery anyway. Michael Bisping wouldn’t last a round. Weidman has the wrestling to make things interesting, and the standup to, at least, survive on the feet for a time. He’s earned his shot; give it to him. Bonnar, on the other hand, was already contemplating retirement. Perhaps it’s best he follow through on that. He’s accomplished all he’s going to in the sport, and he can look forward to a cozy, Chuck Liddell-esque position within the UFC.
In the co-main event… actually, I’m putting that on hold for the moment. Because we have to talk about the Jon Fitch-Erick Silva fight. It was probably the most anticipated fight on the card, which is odd for a Fitch fight. But it delivered in spades. I’ve never got the hate for Jon Fitch that so many fans seem to harbor – yeah, he’s not the most exciting fighter, but the fact that people criticize a guy for fighting to his strengths instead of fighting for their personal entertainment is simply irrational. But you couldn’t levy those criticisms at him this fight – Fitch turned his grinding style up to 11 and brought the fight to Silva. The first round was closely contested, but in Fitch’s favor. The second Silva actually won, largely through securing back control and sinking in a rear naked choke that would have submitted anyone not named Jon Fitch. In all honesty, I still have no clue how Fitch survived, but he did. And he made Silva pay in the third, getting dominant positions, including mount, and unloading with punches for virtually the entire round. (A round which should have been scored 10-8 and which, predictably, no judge scored 10-8.)
Fitch broke Erick Silva. There’s no other way to describe it. That doesn’t mean Silva won’t recover, however. He’s still extraordinarily talented, and Jon Fitch is still one of the best fighters in the division. It was a big step up in competition, and for the first two rounds, he held his own. But sometimes, that’s the difference between good and great. Silva will work on his game and comeback stronger. As for Fitch, perhaps he’s got one more run left in him. This fight certainly indicated he does.
OK, now we’ll get to the co-main event. Basically, you don’t want to fight Big Nog in Brazil. And if you do, you don’t want to be Dave Herman. I’m not sure who came up with Herman’s game plan of “get punched in the face repeatedly and exchange takedowns with one of the most dangerous jiu-jitsu artists in the division,” but damn if Herman didn’t follow it to perfection. He spent the entire first round doing exactly that, getting hit flush in the face on numerous occasions. (This fight, if anything, did not lend any credibility to Brandon Schaub’s already suspect chin.) Why Herman, who possessed a distinct reach advantage, decided not to jab at all is a mystery to me.
It cost him in the second, where Nog was able to floor him with a left hook, achieved mount, and eventually secured a fight-ending armbar over the man who claimed that “jiu-jitsu doesn’t work.” As it turns out, it does, and it probably just handed Herman his walking papers after his third straight loss. Nogueira, on the other hand, wants a top-10 fighter. Give him Stefan Struve, Antonio Silva or Fabricio Werdum, and let the remaining two fight each other as well.
Glover Teixeira lived up to the hype. He tagged Fabio Maldonado early on, took him down, and did his best Donkey Kong imitation for the next four minutes. But Maldonado is made of something tougher than ordinary human beings. He somehow survived, stood, wobbled and then proceeded to tag a fatigued Teixeira with a left hook that wobbled him. But he was unable to capitalize, and was subjected to more of the same over the next round. Finally, the ringside doctor called for the stoppage in between the second and third rounds. Maldonado protested, but it was the right call. He won’t be cut simply because of how tough he was, but it’s unclear where he should go from here. Teixeira, however, needs to fight a big name at 205. Phil Davis or Shogun should fit the bill, if Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson fight as intended.
There isn’t much to say about the Wagner Prado-Phil Davis fight, other than that Wagner Prado did this, a feat unequaled in UFC history. Unfortunately for Prado, stopping the notorious Brazilian hat-thieves was his only accomplishment of the night, and he was dominated by Davis for their entire fight. The end came in the second, as Davis transitioned from an arm-triangle into a front headlock and then an anaconda choke, forcing Prado to submit. Prado was visibly upset afterwards. He’ll probably get another shot in the UFC; there’s no shame in being out-grappled by Phil Davis. I’d say Davis should take on Ryan Bader next, but winners get winners, so give him Shogun or Teixeira instead.
Finally, Demian Maia’s turning into a force at 170. I’m not surprised he beat Rick Story, but I’m surprised how easily he took him down and kept him down. Once Story was on the ground, it was only a matter of time. Maia took his back and sunk in an absolutely brutal RNC/neck crank, which caused blood to erupt from Story’s nose and mouth. Maia’s much stronger at 170 than he was at 185. If only Jake Shields hadn’t tested positive for something, that would have been the match-up to make. Since he has… hell, give him Jon Fitch. That should be interesting.
Maia took home submission of the night, while Fitch and Silva took home fight of the night. Knockout of the Night went to Rony Jason’s second round TKO over Sam Sicilia. Anderson Silva probably deserved the award, but he’s made enough money as it is. I doubt he minds the decision. Other brief thoughts; Fernando Yamasaki is a terrible referee. Madadi should’ve won his fight. The referee should have probably taken a point from Wagner Prado for holding the fence, but I understand his desire to leave Brazil with all his limbs intact. The chick who had “Erick Silva” tattooed on her forearm is probably rethinking her decision, and many of her life’s decisions, right about now.
Main Card Results
Anderson Silva def. Stephan Bonnar via TKO (4:40, Round 2)
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira def. Dave Herman via SUB (4:31, Round 2)
Glover Teixeira def. Fabio Maldonado via TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage, Round 2)
Jon Fitch def. Erick Silva via UD (30-27, 29-28 x 2)
Phil Davis def. Wagner Prado via SUB (4:29, Round 2)
Demian Maia def. Rick Story via SUB (2:30, Round 1)
Preliminary Card Results
Rony Jason def. Sam Sicilia via TKO (4:16, Round 2)
Gleison Tibau def. Francisco Trinaldo via UD (29-28 x 3)
Diego Brandao def. Joey Gambino via UD (30-27 x 3)
Sergio Moraes def. Renee Forte via SUB (3:10, Round 3)
Chris Camozzi def. Luiz Cane via UD (29-28 x 3)
Christiano Marcello def. Reza Madadi via SD (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)