If you’re looking for a high-energy crowd, Brazil is the place to go, and the UFC is bringing a show worth cheering for with the UFC 153. Despite the multitude of injuries, some big names in Brazilian MMA have stepped up to fight for their fans, and you know they’ll be bringing their best to the table. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s get into this fight report and wrap our heads around the battles to come. Now, onto the fights!
Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar:
There isn’t much that can be said about Anderson Silva that hasn’t been said before. A muay thai striker with near inhuman reaction speeds and deceptive power in every limb, he’s seldom been in trouble in any fight he’s had. While Chael Sonnen remains a worthy foe, he remains one of the few men to give Silva an ounce of trouble in his lengthy title reign. With a look towards a new test at 205lbs, Silva will potentially turn his back on the Middleweight title and his first test on this run will be late replacement Stephan Bonnar.
While Bonnar is most famous for his losing efforts to champions Forrest Griffin and Jon Jones, he’s always been a decent fighter in his own right. A large man with a depth of combat knowledge, Bonnar has never broken into the upper ranks of the division, having spent most of his UFC trying to bounce back from injuries as his body broke down over the years. Even still, his mind for fighting and range of skills make him a tough draw for anyone in the division.
The question here isn’t if Bonnar can win, because the answer is an emphatic “No”. The question is if Bonnar can survive to the final bell and be made into an example for the other possible 205lbers in Anderson Silva’s path. While Bonnar has seldom been hurt by anything in the cage, Silva hits like no one alive and I see him putting the boots to Bonnar in exciting fashion. Tough as he is, Bonnar loses this one via TKO before the first half of the match. And the UFC 153 crowd goes wild!
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman:
One of the original heavyweight superstars of Brazil, Antonio “Big Nog” Nogueira will jump into the cage on short notice, taking on American MMA product Dave “Pee wee” Herman. When you think of the Nogueira brothers, the first thing that comes to mind is their ability to bounce back from a beating and find the way to win. This ability may have deteriorated over time, but Big Nog still packs an old man’s strength and dynamite power into his battered frame. Having nearly finished Frank Mir in his last fight before having his arm badly broken, his health will be perhaps the largest factor in this fight.
For Dave Herman, it’s not his heart that seems to be an issue, but his overall attitude towards opponents. Even back in his first bout inside the Octagon, Herman has shown an utter contempt for his opponent’s striking, which has ended in disaster for him in his last two outings. This flaw is one of the only that Herman has though, as he brings smart use of his length, punching accuracy, and the fluid grappling of a lightweight. With such a unique skill set and the frame to make it work, Herman could take the division by storm if he can wrap his head around the task at hand.
We all love Big Nog, but the fact of the matter is, he’s suffered multiple serious injuries and had a number of surgeries in the last several years. His time as a fighter is drawing to a close, and while he still packs a punch, Herman is too much fighter for him at this point. While I’d love to see the upset, Herman should be smart enough to avoid Big Nogs power and put a few punches down the pipe to score a quick TKO win.
Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado:
The next major hype train will be rolling through Rio, as Glover Teixeira takes on eager replacement fighter Fabio Maldonado. Teixeira has received an outrageous amount of fan support following his destruction of Kyle Kingsbury in his UFC debut, going out and blasting him with his vintage boxing and BJJ skill set. While I’m not nearly as high on The Pit’s BJJ coach as others, I do respect that he has many attributes of an elite-fighter, such as a fighter’s composure, functional strength and an overall knack for doing the right things at the right time.
Maldonado is one of the most entertaining fighters at light heavyweight, using traditional boxing and a truckload of grit to work his magic in the cage. While his record at 1-2 isn’t impressive, both losses are three round bloodbaths that could have gone either way easily, giving him the benefit of the doubt in signing for a 4th fight. His chin and variety of punches are his two best assets, using a plethora of body shots and absorbing almost non-stop punishment in all of his bouts.
If this were a straight boxing match, I’d be hard pressed to pass on Maldonado here, as he brings a technical edge and proven chin that Teixeira can’t match. It’s the ground game that will be an issue, and one that Teixeira can make use of almost at will. With Maldonado’s stance being completely squared in fights, he’s easy pickings for a hard double leg, and Teixeira was the takedowns to make use of this MMA flaw anytime he needs to. Expect a fun scrap on the feet for as long as Teixeira wants it, but if the tide starts to shift, we’re one takedown and one submission away from a win for Glover Teixeira at UFC 153.
Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva: Silva is a rising talent that hasn’t had a bit of trouble in the cage thus far, but faces an elite-level foe in Jon Fitch. The fact of the matter is we have almost no idea what Silva brings in the realm of takedown defense and bottom game, although we knew he’s adept at springing up from half successful takedowns. Very few fighters have a top game as suffocating as Fitch, and until I see Silva deal with this level of grappling talent, I’m going to have to side with AKA’s top product.
Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado: A rematch of a short and fruitless first match, it was almost laughable how the internet MMA community wrote off Davis as having been “scared” or “in trouble” in the first minute long fight. A fighter notorious for wanting to get in ring time, Davis has nothing to worry about from Prado, and should finish this fight however and wherever he likes.
Demain Maia vs. Rick Story: Maia not only looked fit at Welterweight, but showed genuine inclination to get back to his BJJ roots, which is bad news for Rick Story. A simple yet effective fighter, Rick Story has worked his hard-nosed punching style and relentless takedown game for years, but Maia is a new kind of fighter to play this game with, and one that won’t easily be stalled out. Maia has the all-around grappling skills to make Story regret closing distance, and while Story can certainly hit, the fact Maia has nothing to worry about on the mat won’t be lost on him. Maia should return to form as he did against DHK and force a ground fight that Story can’t win, locking up the submission late in the fight.
Diego Brandao vs. Joey Gambino: One of the more impressive new signings for the UFC, Joey Gambino held his own against Steve Siler in his debut before ultimately falling in a spirited affair. Brandao is a talented fighter in every realm of the fight game, but his cardio was put to the test in his last fight and found to be faulty against Darren Elkins. Gambino is a scrapper and could pull a massive upset here, but Brandao is just one hair above him in terms of striking accuracy and finishing skills, giving him the nod to win early.
Luis Cane vs. Chris Camozzi: A personal favorite of mine Luis Cane will drop to Middleweight after a long absence, taking on the perpetual motion machine that is Chris Camozzi. Cane’s career has been built off a vicious left straight that’s cracked the heads of quite a few fighters in his day, as well as a strong judo base and hefty chin. Camozzi does have a style that could outpoint Cane, but he’s going to have to fight a perfect match here and avoid the danger presented by Cane’s explosive power. This is a dead even bout, where Cane will have the key to end it all, but Camozzi can waltz away with a win if his opponent comes in with rusted reflexes here.
Cristiano Marcello vs. Reza Madadi: Brazilian legend Cristiano Marcello will get another stab at a UFC win in his home country, taking on Swedish grappling star Reza Madadi. Marcello is a fantastic grappler that has shown some surprising personal development despite his full schedule of teaching, putting up a close fight against Sam Sicilia in his Octagon debut. Madadi has a peculiar style himself though, with a wrestling-based submission game that has kept him safe against stiff competition, and chess-like positioning to set up subs he seldom misses. Marcello has the talent to stay safe, but I give the fight to Madadi for his ability to corral and control the BJJ instructor on his way to a decision win.