UFC 153 has undergone a figurative facelift over the past 48 hours. Indeed, one could say that it has also been subjected to a tummy tuck, rhinoplasty and a bit of liposuction for good measure. And what do you know? The MMA fan base sure ain’t happy about it.
MMA fans rarely find themselves without cause to complain. The UFC cancels a card? Mewl incessantly about it—perhaps with some justification in the aforementioned case. The UFC attempts to scrape together a main card in lieu of scrapping an entire event? Whine about the quality of the substitute show.
Much of the fans’ ire has been directed at UFC 153’s new main event, pitting P4P king Anderson Silva against perennial mid-carder Stephan Bonnar.
One can understand their point to some extent, but only until one realises that the UFC’s options were limited. More importantly, however, careful contemplation of the main event and what it offers is sufficient to catalyse a degree of intrigue.
As I argued some time ago, Stephan Bonnar is possibly the most robust fighter on the UFC roster. He has never been so much as rocked in a fight, let alone knocked out or forced into the dreaded “turtle” position.
Anderson Silva, on the other hand, is frequently hailed for his innumerable talents inside the cage, but rarely do we focus on the kind of bone-breaking power he so routinely exhibits. He may very well be the most explosive puncher, pound-for-pound, in MMA.
The drama in this fight will not centre on who comes out with the win—expect to see pigs flying over Rio if Bonnar somehow prevails. No, the main storyline here is of a fan-favourite, with legendary durability, attempting to go the distance with the champ.
It’s as though Joe Silva stepped aside and allowed Sylvester Stallone to put together the main event. Indeed, not since Rocky and Raging Bull has so much intrigue rested on whether a fighter can somehow manage to stay on his feet and/or go the distance.
This contest may not be competitive, but come on, folks—we all love an underdog story. And is there a more durable, lovable underdog than Stephan Bonnar?