When UFC president Dana White announced Tuesday that Jose Aldo and Quinton Jackson had been forced out of their respective UFC 153 bouts against Frankie Edgar and Glover Teixeira, few could have anticipated it would lead to a new main event between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and veteran light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar. However, as reported by USA Today, that is now the matchup that will headline the October event in Brazil.
Two other fights were added to the fight card, as Fabio Maldonado will replace Jackson to scrap with Teixeira and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira requested to fight in his home country on short notice.
Nogueira has been slated to meet fellow heavyweight Dave Herman, who was also not previously expected to compete at UFC 153. At the moment, former lightweight champion Edgar remains without a scheduled opponent and will not compete at the event.
It was White who informed USA Today of the latest news on the most recent UFC event to be devastated by injuries:
"We're back on track. Anderson Silva wasn't scheduled to fight at all. I called him today, and he's shooting a commercial in Brazil. Anderson Silva steps up, and Stephan Bonnar wants to fight him. The Teixeira vs. Maldonado fight comes together, and then Nogueira was standing right there with Anderson shooting the commercial with him, and he said he wanted to fight, too. This is old-school UFC. A card is in jeopardy, but guys that are world champions and superstars stepped up and jumped in and saved the card. This is why the fans love this sport and why we went on a 12-year run without cancelling an event."
Needless the say, the mere mention of a Silva fight at light heavyweight caused Twitter to explode with clarifications and reactions to this huge news. So, let's start with the specifics on the Silva-Bonnar matchup, which were partially cleared up by Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com.
If you're wondering, Silva-Bonnar is a three-round main event. #ufc153
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 13, 2012
My initial reaction to the announcement that Bonnar, who recently tiptoed around a retirement question on Fuel TV's UFC Tonight, would be facing the current middleweight champion was one of bewilderment. Even with Silva's move up in weight on short notice, Bonnar will undoubtedly enter this fight as a massive underdog.
While that may be the case, it's better than UFC 153 being doomed to the same fate as UFC 151. It's also better than waiting until 2013 to see the greatest fighter in MMA history step into the cage again, as was the plan prior to these unforeseen events, as Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter pointed out.
Yes, the fight is a mismatch. But now 153 is headlined by Anderson Silva fighting again in 2012. I am happy about that.
— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) September 13, 2012
Getting to see Silva compete for a second time in 2012 is great, but it may come at a cost for the Brazilian champion. Aside from the large sum of money he'll likely accrue from this short-notice showing, this is a lose-lose fight for the middleweight titleholder, and it could spoil an even bigger moneymaker should he come out on the losing end against Bonnar.
Uh...so does Anderson Silva lose the GSP fight if Bonnar beats him?
— Matthew Roth (@MattRoth512) September 13, 2012
Unquestionably, the answer to this question posed by Bleacher Report's Matt Roth is yes. The thing that makes a superfight between Silva and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre so intriguing is the fact that both fighters are still near the height of their careers and continue to wear belts around their waists.
While a loss to Bonnar wouldn't cost Silva his championship, it would severely hurt his current standing and would erase much of the interest in a bout with St-Pierre.
Silva's decision to accept a fight at light heavyweight may have also come as a shock to many of the top middleweight contenders, who had been working under the assumption that their division's alpha male was holding out for the aforementioned superfight with St-Pierre.
Many have pegged Chris Weidman as the top 185-pound contender after his knockout win over Mark Munoz, but Silva's management shrugged at the idea of fighting Weidman anytime soon. So, it should come as no surprise that Weidman was hurt by the recent news regarding Silva taking a fight with a low-ranked opponent like Bonnar.
— Chris Weidman (@ChrisWeidmanUFC) September 13, 2012
There's no doubt Silva accepted this bout under extenuating circumstances, and he truly helped out his employer in a big way, but it is fair to question Silva's motives for avoiding title defenses at middleweight in the short term.
If SIlva was healthy enough to take this bout with Bonnar out of thin air, why couldn't he have been scheduled for a title fight against Weidman or another 185-pound contender shortly after his most recent championship bout against Chael Sonnen in July?
I'm starting to suspect the great Anderson Silva will retire before fighting @chrisweidmanufc. I wouldn't want to fight him either.
— Jonathan Snowden (@mmaencyclopedia) September 13, 2012
It's not a great day to be Weidman, but he'll surely get his chance to fight for the belt soon if he can decisively defeat Tim Boetsch at UFC 155. Weidman's loss is Bonnar's gain, and with "The American Psycho" riding a three-fight winning streak, this a feel-good moment to see one of the UFC's pioneer's getting a deserved big fight near the end of his career that he can look back on once he calls it quits.
That being said, going up against an adversary like Silva, this might not end up being a performance that Bonnar will enjoy watching for years to come.